This course gives students the opportunity to experience and enjoy some time in a forest environment, while learning some practical knowledge and skills associated with being outdoors.
The course also places importance on the physical and emotional benefits of time spent in nature; providing opportunities for space and exercise, undertaking supported risk, learning about the natural world, considering conservation and pollution and a chance to talk and reflect.
There are no specific course requirements other than an interest and enthusiasm for being outdoors, and a level or resilience when it comes to facing the British weather.
The Unit Awards require mostly photographic evidence of any activities undertaken to prove engagement, knowledge and achievement, so students should be aware of this. They also require some basic literacy skills but these can be supported by staff as required.
All students are initially introduced to the forest site, supported to become familiar with the environment and appraised of any safety information and procedures. Exploring and play will feature heavily in the introductory phase as a way to facilitate comfort within the forest environment.
Key Stage 3
Students begin work on shelter building tasks, including; recognising the purpose of shelter, materials which can be used for natural and man-made shelters and constructing and evaluating their own shelters. The focus at KS3 is on slowly building the skills that they are interested in and building a portfolio towards completing a unit award. Students are then given an introduction to outdoor fire lighting. At KS3 the focus is on observing skills to build trust, confidence and above all safety in a fire lighting situation.
Key Stage 4
Students follow the same programme but in more detail and to a higher standard and need to learn a range of knots for tarp shelters and work more independently on their construction. They also need to learn to assess and improve their own constructions. These activities can be done at both Level 1 and 2 depending on ability.
KS4 students then work towards a unit award in fire lighting, including; recognising the fire triangle, the elements required to build a fire, using a fire steel to light a fire, natural materials which can be used in fire lighting, tree recognition, building and maintaining fires for different purposes, and safely putting out fires. These activities can be done at Level 1 and can be extended to include outdoor cooking for Level 2
The unit awards are assessed by continual observation and photographing of a range of activities required for the award. There is also a small selection of worksheets to complete to demonstrate knowledge required for the unit awards. Additionally, there is an expectation of a certain amount of lesson hours to be put in by the student to gain the relevant knowledge and develop their skills.
The unit awards are usually run during Year 11. The smaller shelter building course is normally completed in the Autumn term, followed by the Fire lighting/cooking course during Spring and Summer terms. However, many students will make a start on elements of the course during Year 10 and sometimes even younger, allowing them to work towards units at their own pace and genuinely becoming comfortable and confident with the skills they are learning.
The site is also available for teaching staff who are traditionally classroom based to take the opportunity to deliver some outdoor learning opportunities. All subject staff are invited to access the site as an alternative teaching space. The site is well suited to subject based scavenger hunts, outdoor science experiments, mathematic measuring, natural art, or simply to provide a relaxing place to read or promote discussion.
We also offer the opportunity for tutor groups to visit to support team building and relationships or simply as a reward trip.
The site can also be used for House Challenges and any whole school activities, and also provides a location for staff training and team building.
A small forest and meadow site has been acquired by the school to use as a base for the Forest Skills site. We have access to a mixed, predominantly deciduous, forest providing a perfect environment for shelter building, identifying plants and trees, and observing a range of birds and animals that live there. There is also a stream running across the site allowing exploration and play, and also water access for fire safety. The meadow area is also a valuable wildlife area where we have a ‘tree classroom’ to work under and we have also created a fire pit area for safe lighting of communal fires. We soon hope to have a small container for storage of tools and equipment and for keeping dry in the worst of the weather.