Case Studies

Here you will find some examples to help illustrate how you will be able to apply the Forest Schools ethos to your own particular setting.

Early Years And Pre School

Clients name and details: Jane Wallis, Green Lane Nursery, Green Lane, Buxton

Duration

Project 1: 6 weeks

Project 2: 6 Weeks
Number and ages/background of children involved

Initial project: 16 children from the nursery aged 4 years, last term of nursery transition into school. Children from a wide variety of backgrounds as intake from all parts of the town.

Project 2: 24 Children from Green Lane Nursery (3 year olds) and Buxton Nursery (4 year olds). Green Lane feeds into Buxton Nursery, which is situated in the Infant School. After the success and impact of the project on the personal and social development of the children who had attended the previous year. Parents of the younger children had requested that their children could attend so they could get 2 x 6 week projects (one this year and one next year) as they believe Forest Schools to be such a fantastic opportunity for their children.

Description

Forest Schools for Early Years and Pre School
Forest Schools for Early Years and Pre School

The funding for the project was provided from 50% nursery budget and 50% parent’s contribution. Staffing ratios were maintained through 2 Archimedes Forest School Practitioners, parents, carers and nursery staff.
Transport costs were kept to a minimum by using the nursery mini bus and parent vehicles.The woodland was 20 minutes drive away from the nursery and this was provided through the Peak Park Woodlands manager. Use of woods in this way fulfils their National Park woodland policy to extend use for education of the local community.
Risk Assessments were carried out and the Peak Park Authority with Archimedes Training Limited co-funded the placement of gates into the woodland and through the local farmers field, which needed to be crossed to reach the woods. The woods have no other public access and contained some remains of archaeological value. The Archimedes staff in negotiation with the nursery staff developed the programme. This worked towards Early Leaning goals set out in the short, medium and long term planning of the nursery. Many of the areas were supported back in the setting to maximise the learning potential of the Forest Schools experience.So what actually happens on an Early Years project

Each week the sessions follow the same format so that the children know what to expect and what is expected from them. Here is one example:

9.00 Leave nursery
9.30 The children arrive at the parking site and have Safety brief
9.40 Review of last week activities and introduction to link to the theme of the day (insects, fairies, etc) Staff use different media to accommodate different sensory learning styles, pictures, songs, acting out what will happen. Group follow a trail to the site.
10.00 Sit at Forest School site and count trail cards along with number theme and talking about anything interesting on the way up. Sing the Forest School Song
10.15 Toilet, Wash Hands, Snack and story time
10.30 Game…1,2,3 Where are you and other themed activities. Fairy houses, Mini beast hunts, Picture making.
All children will take back an item they have made or created. This is the link with home to create positive communication.
11.30 Review of session and Collect up everything and walk back to minibus.
12.00 Travel back to School The Forest School Song has become an intricate part of Buxton Nursery and the children and staff regularly sing it. It creates a visual image for the children and positive emotional responses, enabling rapid recall of the Forest Schools experience in order to extend and adapt the activities in the nursery and home setting.

Interesting and Unique Facts about the Early Years And Pre School Project

Buxton Nursery has been awarded the highest OFSTED inspection in the county as a reflection of its long term planning involving Forest Schools and the overall emphasis that the management place on outdoor play.

The future and possible ideas for further funding

Funding is being sought in order to deliver a 2005 project at Buxton Nursery. NOF Funding is available for out of school hours provision, including lunch and break time.
In Derbyshire there is an under spend at present so any organisation, LEA or private who wishes to provide Forest School activities at their setting can contact Saskia Talis through Derbyshire central switchboard in Matlock 01629 580000 for further information.
Archimedes Training is very proud that Derbyshire has recognised its quality provision and has been awarded a training contract to deliver Forest School Practitioner Awards at Level 1 to 3 to people working within Derbyshire Early Years and Out of School network.
Positive Outcomes

The projects have proved a great success both with the children and the parents. The impact has been so significant in some cases that the end of year reports for the children had to be re written in order to reflect the dramatic changes in the communication skills of these particular children. Some of whom had been described as ‘quiet’, had interacted in a much more positive way with peers during the project as they increased their self-esteem and confidence.

Parents have commented on the positive impact Forest Schools has had in terms of their children’s communication at home and had an increased desire to interact with parents and peers about their wonderful experiences. Children become more adventurous during the six weeks and were keen to develop their skills and knowledge and understanding back in the nursery setting.

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Families

Clients name and details: Lydia McNayle: Mother of one girl age 4 years.

Lydia has a strong interest in the outdoors and especially alternative educational practices for children. The nursery her child goes to has a strong emphasis on outdoor provision.
Lydia came along on the first Forest School project in her area (for 3 to 4 year olds) as an adult helper and was so impressed by the ethos, professionalism and learning outcomes for the young children involved, that she applied to become a qualified practitioner.

By attending an accredited training course Lydia was then able to gain temporary employment as an Assistant Forest Schools Leader.

Duration

6 week project as a volunteer helper with own child on an early years project

– Attendance at Forest School Practitioner Training and Assessment (2 weeks over 6 months)

– Assistant Forest School Leader 6 Week Early years project (paid employment)

– Application to become an early Years assistant in the future developments of Forest School in the area

Training and resources needed for Families wanting to get involved

Lydia was a voluntary parent helper on the first project. The training cost was £652 for the OCN Level 3 Forest School Practitioner Training and Assessment. Lydia was fortunate enough to apply for training at the same time that the Peak District National Park Sustainable Development Fund was able to cover 75% costs for anyone living or working in the Peak District National Park. Lydia paid of 25% of her own course fees and the Peak Park funded the remainder 75%, she had to make provisions for child care costs and travelling expenses.
Positive outcomes Lydia has become an assistant Forest School Leader for any courses that run in her area through Archimedes Training. She has completed her Assessment and is now a qualified Level 3 Forest School Practitioner. Congratulations!
Quotes Lydia says “Lovely, smashing, super Archimedes Training”.

Are you a parent and are interested in getting involved? Book onto a Taster Day to find out more>>

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Primary Schools

Case Study to show how a primary school can implement Forest Schools sessions into their settings:

Clients name and details: North Wingfield Infant School, Chesterfield

Project description including project aim/purpose

Forest Schools in Primary Schools
Forest Schools in Primary Schools

To develop communication Skills in Class One children across a number of Primary Schools in the cluster. We were contracted by the school to run a number of Seasonal week projects for both North Wingfield and the Schools in the cluster. These ran for one week each term and a different school would access the programme on each of the 5 days.
Each of the projects had a direct curriculum emphasis and this was developed in close association with the Advanced Skills Teacher who has overall responsibility for Citizenship within the primary schools cluster. Woods local to most primary schools were used in agreement with Countryside department.

Duration

A number of week projects.

Approx. 30 children each day of the project. Ages 5/6 years Year 1 Key Stage 1. The primary schools in this cluster tend to be from areas that were in the past mining communities and as such re developing the local economy.

Positive outcomes

Many children had taken their parents back to the site to show what they had been doing.

The Future

Paul has applied to the LEA in order that they financially support a partnership between the Cluster group, Paul and Archimedes in order to provide Forest Schools for up to 6 projects in the region next financial Year.
This will mean that up to 36 children will receive the benefits of the Archimedes Forest School approach in the area. Paul will have confirmation of this in October ready for the projects to start in April 2005.

Any interesting/unique facts about the project

The advanced Skills teacher Paul Scragg originally came across the concept of Forest School at an Outdoor Play conference held at Losehill Hall. He went about promoting the concept within his cluster groups of schools and secured funding to provide taster sessions for all the schools in his area. Once this had taken place and support though positive feedback had been received Paul applied via his AST training budget to Complete the Forest School Practitioner Award with Archimedes Training. Paul then, through the developing Partnership approach applied to the LEA to get support in order to set up the first ongoing Forest School in Derbyshire.
He has received this support and Archimedes and Paul ran a 10 day project in May and June 2004 in which Paul could develop his teaching strategies and design programmes and mirror experienced staff from Archimedes. He has now completed his Award and received funding though BT in order to develop the project in his school.
The Cluster also has a support unit associated with it to which a young person, now permanently excluded from school attends. This young person attended a previous Archimedes Forest School programme funded though the Chesterfield Children’s Fund. He requested to continue as it was the ‘best thing he had ever done’ A member of staff from this support unit has now been trained through Archimedes and as a part of his portfolio is required to take part in 6 F/s sessions. He contacted Paul and their unit, through its own funds is supporting Paul’s Year one Forest School though providing for the Mini bus expenses.
The wheel is turning and Forest School is becoming a significant part of the lives of children in this part of Chesterfield.

 

Clients name and details: Barrowhill and Poolsbrook Primary School Project description including Project aim/ objectives

Barrowhill and Poolsbrook Primary Schools commissioned the project in January 2005.

Project objectives

• To encourage curiosity
• To encourage exploration and use of all the senses
• To empower children in the natural environment
• To increase cooperation with peers
• To encourage spatial awareness and motor development
• Reviewing and recognition of own achievements

It was expected that through a regular chance to experience the forest environment and explore with their peer group, the children would develop a keener sense of their own physical and problem solving abilities. They would be gaining knowledge of their limitations and also their possibilities whilst developing closer relationships with the other children in the group and working with a range of different people. It was also hoped that the positive experience they would gain from being outdoors once a week in a stimulating environment would help to further their progress in the classroom with curriculum based tasks and activities.

Duration

It ran one day a week from April 2005 to July 2005 for a total of 14 weeks with every session spent in the forest. In addition there was one introductory session held indoors with the group at school before visiting the forest. The sessions ran from 9:30am to 12:30 midday and from 12:45 to 2:30pm. One school came in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The morning group also ate their lunch outdoors in the wood.

Number and ages/background of children involved

All of the young people on the project were from the same class within school and from a range of academic ability. The class was a mix of children from Y2 and Y3. They ranged between the ages of 6 and 8 years. Both of the schools are based in ex mining communities with restricted alternative employment and considered as economically deprived.

Positive outcomes

Parents were very enthusiastic when they came out on a visit with their children. Many were keen to return and enquired about doing more projects of this kind.

Any interesting/unique facts about the project

Teachers have remarked on improvements back at school and increase in compliance with written tasks and greater acceptance and motivation in other curriculum subjects using the forest experience as a hook to hang the activities off

A number of children were highlighted as having exhibited unusual or out of character behaviour over the course of the project. These changes were always considered to be positive.
They ranged from one child who was very intimidated if asked to speak in front of the class- volunteering to explain the rules of a game to the group and visiting children from other classes and doing a very good job to another child who was reluctant to engage in the classroom and also reluctant to do any physical activity.
He became extremely motivated both in the woodland and back at school, he played with a number of different members in the class and was to be seen running up and down the hill shouting with enjoyment and constantly requesting to play hide and seek.

The Future / Recommendation

It would be wonderful to continue this project for longer and if possible to give these children a constant input up to the end of primary school age, providing transition support as they move up to secondary school. This would have the potential to provide them with an incredibly strong foundation of confidence and high self-esteem to support them in to the first years of secondary school and increase their chances of a successful school career from the age of 11 to 16/18.
A number of the members of staff involved from both schools have stated an interest to train as Forest School Practitioners and the local LEA has been in touch with Archimedes Training Ltd about providing training to the cluster group of schools. This will ensure a longevity for the projects by moving the leaders resource to within the schools cutting the costs of projects and thus ensuring a higher rate of access and uptake by young people in the area.

If you would like to find out more you may like to book onto one of our Taster Days>>

 

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Secondary Schools

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.