What do we intend children to learn?
To achieve the best together is our aim at Belton C of E Primary School. We do this through our strong underpinning of the Christian values of hope, peace, forgiveness, love, friendship and trust coupled with the British values of liberty, freedom, community, tolerance, respect and law. We want to ensure that the pupils can be the very best they can be and become responsible, confident individuals who are well equipped for the future.
It has been widely documented that the Covid19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of children. Anxiety, loneliness, depression, boredom, isolation and uncertainty are all said to have taken their toll on our children today. Going forward, evidence suggests that routine and structure, a sense of control, having things to do, contact with friends and extra support to socialise, physical activity, learning new skills and outdoor play will help our children recover.
How do we teach it?
A way in which we achieve this aim is to use one of our great school assets; the wonderful availability of the Leicestershire countryside within our school grounds. Every pupil is given the opportunity to learn and develop using the forest school approach with our fully qualified level 3 Forest School Leader (with QTS).Therefore, our forest school provision aims to provide just that to every pupil in our school. For an hour each week, we will concentrate on eight important areas of outdoor learning; Core Values, Environmental Education, Outdoor Skills, Species Identification, Knots and Lashings, Reflect and Review, Tool Tasks and Firepit Finesse.
In our small school, we have three mixed age classes and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) class. The mixed age classes have a two-year rolling plan and the EYFS a single year plan.
Each lesson has one of the core values as a focus alongside the skills-based learning of each outdoor learning unit. The lessons within each unit are progressive, building upon skills learnt in previous lessons.
Cross Curricular links
There are many links that can be made between our forest school learning, the EYFS and the National Curriculum. These are identified on each lesson plan and communicated to the class teacher. The nature of our cross curricular planning enables our pupils to relate their knowledge to different contexts, allowing for a greater depth to their understanding.
How do we know how well children are doing?
Reflect and Review
At the end of every lesson the children are given the opportunity to reflect on and review their learning. This helps them to develop a secure and confident knowledge base, and a sense of self that empowers them to take on new challenges, learn from mistakes and try new things.
Assessment of knowledge and Skills
Our pupils’ gain a good understanding of the knowledge and skills they are expected to acquire in their forest school lessons each session, term and year. This gives them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning through their own self-assessment. Alongside the observations of the forest school leader each pupils’ knowledge and skills are tracked.
Forest school lessons provide a great sense of fun and enjoyment for our pupils which has a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. It provides our pupils with new experiences to look forward to, extra support to socialise, a growth mindset and physical activity, whilst learning about the environment in which they live and valuable new skills which will support them throughout life. All of this is delivered in a beautiful outdoor play environment in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside.