Forest School Curriculum
At Westgate Primary School, our school vision is for all members of our school “to be the best you can be”. As part of this vision, we have decided to expand and enhance the breadth of our curriculum by incorporating a designated Forest School curriculum that will become part of our weekly routine in the juniors. It is our aim that this learning outside of the classroom will uphold the high standards and expectations that our school sets for its pupils and serve as a cornerstone to increasing their life skills and experiences throughout their primary school education.
The primary aims of this curriculum will be:
- To build self-esteem and confidence in children.
- To build resilient, determined and independent learners
- To develop children’s personal, social and emotional development.
- To develop children’s and encourage creativity
- To encourage collaboration.
- To develop and build the ideas of risk management and risk benefit
- To improve children’s life skills and experiences
- To enable children to gain a respect for the natural environment and wildlife.
- To transfer negative behaviours into positive ones.
- To let children be children
These aims will be covered with a variety of Forest Schools teachings and strategies that not only seek to aid the children in their learning but also be provided in a positive, enjoyable, creative and inspiring manner that will allow them to transfer the skills and knowledge from the Forest School lessons into the classroom and life outside of school.
To ensure that this learning outside of the classroom curriculum reaches the high standards of teaching and learning that we pride ourselves on at Westgate, we have implemented a progressive curriculum that grows across Key Stage 2 until its culmination, when children leave in Year 6. Discrete outdoor learning lessons will be timetabled for each Key Stage 2 class across three half terms a year allowing the teaching of high-quality outdoor learning.
Forest school is a globally recognised teaching system that aims to meet the intent of this curriculum through holistic learning. It is through this method that we strive to provide our pupils with the widest range of skills and opportunities available to us. Due to its child-led nature and focus on social development, Forest School engages children in a manner that is hard to imitate in the classroom. This creates new opportunities for learning and development that might not be accessed during regular day-to-day schooling. As we know, every child is different, as are their learning habits, something that here at Westgate we recognise, encourage and utilise.
At Westgate, we are blessed with a beautiful outdoor learning environment with the Forest School area and the school’s raised beds. It is here the majority of the learning will take place but it is our aim to also expand our outdoor learning into the wider community and environment to give the children a wider range of experience and allow them to become more familiar with the world surrounding them. We are working with Hill Close Gardens to recommission a garden area and the Eco-Schools Group will be involved in planting and looking after this area.
After the implementation of the Forest Schools curriculum, children at Westgate will become more well-rounded and prepared learners and individuals. They will not only be more confident and resilient learners, they will become more caring and supportive peers due to the heavy focus the curriculum places on understanding and generating empathy. This will allow children will become more able to regulate their social, mental, emotional and spiritual health meaning the children to perform better in collaborative learning and tasks, arming them with the skills necessary to improve themselves in their schooling career and life in the wider world.
As children grow in confidence in their abilities in the outdoor environment, they will begin to understand, assess and manage their own risk and safety. This will allow the children to become more independent and show them that life comes with not only risk but also rewards. It also teaches them what their own limits are and that they can push through them. They will see that sometimes we don’t always get the desired result the first time but that doesn’t make us a failure, it helps us to grow, forcing us to try again in a different way. It encourages problem solving logical thinking and self-reflection and evaluation but most of all the pupils will see that mistakes aren’t failures; they are a part of learning.