Tales from the Forest
Forest School is an international initiative gaining attention as an approach to education with holistic benefits for participants.
Originating in Scandinavia, Forest School recognises the importance of child-led, self-motivated learning in a natural environment. Children in Forest School are actively engaged in the learning process, developing their sense of personal and collective responsibility. It also helps children to manage risks in a safe setting. Our pupils also learn to take pride in the environment and develop responsibility for it – an ethos they can take with them for life.
We are one of the few schools in the Oxford area to offer Forest School right here on our 12-acre site. Individual wellbeing and personal development are at the heart of every Forest School activity, undertaken in the beautiful setting of Rye St Antony’s exceptional woodland grounds. Our unique school site is home to over a hundred mature protected trees, comprising dozens of species of hard and softwoods. Not only does this make for an inspiring and majestic setting for Forest School (and the chance for a bit of Nature Therapy), it also encourages our pupils to learn about the natural world and become good stewards of the environment.
Pupils, from Nursery to Year 8 and beyond, are given the opportunity to take part in weekly Forest School sessions with one of our two qualified Forest School Leaders who run activities appropriate to pupils’ developmental stages. Every Forest School session considers the Emotional/Mental, Cultural, Physical and Spiritual development of the participants. Mental well-being and confidence are our aims for participants of every age, and Forest School pupils operate on a completely level playing field while experiencing an important break from traditional classroom environments.
Forest School brings education to life and children learn ancient and often forgotten skills including:
- Making shelters
- Playing in the Muddy Kitchen
- Learning to make and light a no trace fire
- Designing and constructing play equipment
- Handling and using tools safely
- Creating woodland craft
- Cooking on a fire
- Climbing trees
- Tying knots
- Pond dipping
- Hunting for mini-beasts
- Identifying flora and fauna
- Learning about woodland sustainability
The Forest School experience at Rye gives pupils a chance to make choices and manage risks in a safe natural environment and each session enriches their learning and links to various areas of the curriculum. Every week, members of the teaching staff from both the Prep and Senior Schools volunteer to help at Forest School, bringing their own expertise and interest to the sessions.
Forest School Principles
At the heart of every Forest School are 6 guiding principles which aim to foster wellbeing and individual development.
Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning