At Fieldhead Primary Academy we believe in using nature and the natural environment to support children’s education and help to provide skills for lifelong learning. We have a dedicated teacher (Mr Parry) who is responsible for outdoor learning, who is trained in Forest School, bush craft and archery. The children access Forest School sessions on a half termly rota, predominantly based in the ‘Fieldhead Forest’, but all outdoor areas may be utilised. Children’s outdoor skills have been developed through a range of topics, and the children have been learning to light fires, understanding the fire triangle, the respect position and the risk management involved in this. They have also learned about plants, how to respect nature, and the magic that can be found in it, for example foraging and using plants for food, or exploring camouflage and the features of different animals whilst learning more about predators and prey. The children’s Forest School learning is linked to the curriculum or class topic, and has included:
In July 2016, OFSTED recognised the Forest School as a strength as an exciting lesson that develops interest and curiosity, where the children understanding was deepened and pupils were questioned well, and encouraged to think deeply about their practical experiment.
At Fieldhead Primary Academy we recognise that some of our children need additional support and intervention, including developing their social and emotional skills. We, therefore, use our outdoor area for a nurture group, and one-to-one interventions. We are the first outdoor nurture that we know of and have been visited by the Nurture Group Network for this reason. We are proud to be leaders in this area, whilst still being in our early stages. Children attending interventions outside have grown in confidence and gained a wealth of skills, including making ink from naturally harvested resources, knot tying, fire lighting, outdoor cooking to name but a few. We believe that using children’s strengths and motivators benefits them greatly, and we can use this to support them with their learning in class. The children’s social and emotional progress is measured using Thrive data and Boxall Profile data, and therefore the impact can be seen in both qualitative and quantitative terms. In March 2017, Our HMI inspector visited the indoor and outdoor nurture groups and reported that ‘The nurture and real life skill development opportunities for these pupils are making a sustainable difference to their learning and that of others around them.’
The outdoor area is undergoing extensive development, with long-term plans in place for how the space can continue to complement children’s education. So far construction of an outdoor shelter has begun, providing a dry space for children to complete their learning activities. New trees have been planted, vegetable patches are being created, and areas have been weeded and replanted. Our long term plans include an area for wood work and metal work, and an outdoor preparation and cooking area, where the children can cook the food grown on site. We have been working alongside a number of partners in the local area, and we wish to continue developing the area and supporting children and families to benefit the whole community.
For their generous and ongoing support, we would like to express our sincerest thanks to: