Secondary School

Case Study: How a secondary school can implement Forest Schools into their setting

Project description including Project aim/purpose

This project provided alternative provision for challenging, secondary school year 9 pupils from the Key stage three PRU. A structured 3 day a week Forest School programme was developed for these pupils using a local woodland to fulfil the demands of the National Curriculum whilst at the same time encouraging social and emotional development.

Duration

Initially 30 weeks, extended to cover a final term.

6 pupils started the course with 5 staying to completion. All had been excluded from school.

Positive Outcomes

The length and duration of the programme allowed all pupils to develop in a positive way with some marked changes in behaviour being recorded as a result, both at home and in the PRU

Feedback

“Learning the Archimedes way is innovative, creative and engaging. Structured activities in an outdoor woodland environment serve to remove some of the boundaries, which in the past had inhibited out disengaged youngsters from learning.”

“As weeks went by my office slowly became full of wind chimes, hurdles, chiseled artifacts, kazoos etc. These proud pupils constantly displayed new found confidence and skills, shared their successes for the first time, aware of their new talents but oblivious to their new found social development.”

“Archimedes have been flexible enough to constantly adapt and respond to changing moods, interests and needs in order to maximise pupil engagement and success.”

Interesting and Unique Facts about the Project

One participant is going to come back as an assistant leader on next years project. All clients have requested more contact with Forest Schools and this is being provided through Archimedes for the next stage in their education.

The future and possible ideas for further funding

The PRU has requested another 3 day a week programme for the whole of the next academic year, starting in Sept 2004.

 

Clients name and details: Holly House Special School, Chesterfield

Project description including Project aim/purpose

Archimedes Training Limited was commissioned to establish a Forest Schools Project to run weekly throughout the summer term of 2005 by Holly House Special School. This project was paid for with an allocation of funds from Derbyshire Local Education Authority.

A group of Young People who would potentially benefit from participation on a Forest Schools project were identified by staff at the centre. The Forest School programme was designed around these individuals to meet specified needs and objectives.

To develop relationships with peers and positive adult role models to support personal development and subsequently to raise self-esteem and self-confidence.

Objectives

• Goal setting
• Planning
• Achieving
• Team building
• Increasing cooperation to achieve goals
• Reviewing and recognising own achievements

Duration

It was run one day a week from April 2005 to July 2005 for a total of 14 weeks. The last week of the project the Forest School leaders were invited to the school sports day, so there were only 13 project days spent in the forest. In addition there were two sessions held indoors with the group at school before visiting the forest.

The first was a whole day, before the easter holiday, and the second was a half day, on the first week of the project in April. Every other day was spent entirely outside, eating lunch outdoors and cooking on a number of days throughout the project.

Positive Outcomes

We feel that this project, although short, was a success for the young people involved. We were very impressed with the progress they made on individual projects and also the effort they put in to learning new skills and completing challenges.
They began as a group to work chiefly on solo projects and engage in solitary play. By the seventh week there were already signs of the group becoming more inclined to work and play in small groups and pairs.
By the last week of the project, there was very little prompting needed to encourage the young people to help one another and most of them would comfortably work cooperatively with all of the other members of the group. They became a lot more conscious of the way an individual’s behaviour impacted on the rest of the group and would occasionally refuse to work with somebody else, on the basis of that person’s behaviour being disruptive.

The group has also become very familiar with the structure of the day and the routines in place in Forest Schools. This has enabled them to gradually adopt the pattern of the day and therefore has let them feel safer and calmer in the woodland environment. At the start of the project it was a challenge to address the whole group at once and discuss the plan for the day ahead without some kind of disruption.
By the last weeks the group would sit in the log circle on arrival at the wood and ask questions about what they wanted to do that day whilst listening to the other planned activities. They accepted the routines and respected the reasons for having them, engaging in the whole day and planning process

Interesting and Unique Facts about the Project

Something which has been noted after considering information collected from session observations is that most of the young people have demonstrated a pattern in their behaviour, confidence and enjoyment of the project. This pattern shows a period of acclimatisation at the beginning of the programme consisting of fairly neutral careful behaviour followed by a period of testing boundaries and experimenting with the structures after becoming more accustomed to the leaders and the site.
This is nearly always followed by a period of improvement and either a return to their initial behaviour or a development and increase in appropriate behaviour beyond what was shown on the first few weeks.
The leaders therefore believe that all of the young people would benefit from a longer project, possibly including a transition element- between school terms, where they could extend this development and confirm these changes to become a more permanent and positive part of their behaviour.

The future and possible ideas for further funding

The group as a whole progressed in terms of peer interaction and cooperation over the course of the fourteen weeks. Were the project to be longer, lasting a full 30 or 40 weeks, we would expect this progression to be more notable and advanced. Even so, it has been possible to see, with no exceptions, some degree of progression in all of the individual young people.
The school expressed enthusiasm for the results they had seen and an intention to pursuer further Forest School project funding with a view to possibly providing training for one or both of the accompanying members of staff.

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