Pupils loving the outdoors at forest school

Published on: 04 Feb 2015

CHILDREN at Christ Church Junior School in DownendCHILDREN at Christ Church Junior School in DownendCHILDREN at Christ Church Junior School in Downend

CHILDREN at Christ Church Junior School in Downend are taking a walk on the wild side this winter.

CCJ has launched its own forest school and head teacher Alex Wilkinson said it was proving a great success.

Pupils reported that they loved the freedom of the outdoor lessons and enjoyed learning new skills.

So far they have tried den building, making a fire using strikers, using a bow saw and loppers and making stick towers.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Not many schools are lucky enough to have their own semi-wild forest area. 

“The multiple educational benefits as well as sheer enjoyment of outdoor learning and forest schools, in particular have been known for some time. So we are are thrilled CCJ forest school is now up and running.”

An experienced forest school leader came in to the school in the autumn to work with 15 children and train teacher Gloria Dick to organise and teach the CCJ Forest School.

Friends of the School bought outdoor clothes, tools and storage for the project.

Since last month, Miss Dick has been working in all weathers with three separate groups during the week. She is running a forest school group, an outdoor team-building group and an mixed aged ‘interest group’.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The children have really risen to the challenge, starting with remembering their waterproofs and wellies each week, and their enthusiasm for new skills, focus on tasks, working together and talking about what they have been doing has all be absolutely amazing.”

Here are some of their comments:

“Making the den was fantastic.”

“I loved making the fire for our hot chocolate drinks.”

“I’m really glad I was able to make a Christmas tree out of willow, especially as it was my idea.”

“I enjoyed helping my friends make the dens and playing ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’.”

Mr Wilkinson said the school had made a commitment that from September 2105 every child who comes to CCJ will, in one of their four years, experience five afternoons of planned forest school. In this school year this will involve all the children in Year 5.

“The only problem we have now is that all the children, throughout the school, are asking, ‘When it will be my turn!” Mr Wilkinson said.

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