Winterbourne Woodland School
Winterbourne Valley CE VA First School
“Play is the highest form of research” - Albert Einstein
Fun in the Mud Kitchen!
What is Woodland School all about?
Thursday is Woodland School Day! Throughout this school year, groups of our children have been allocated regular weekly sessions in our woodland area. During these sessions we closely follow the ethos and practices of a Forest School curriculum.
These sessions are led by Sue Thompson, one of our regular supply teachers. Sue has over 30 years of teaching experience and holds a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner qualification, endorsed by the Forest School Association.
The sessions allow the children to engage with nature and to learn in a holistic way, enabling them to develop better communication skills, self-confidence, resilience and responsibility. This learning is then taken back into the classroom to enhance their all-round development and attitudes to learning indoors. Our provision at Woodland School is first and foremost child-led, being grounded in educational research that has made Forest School so successful.
At Woodland School we aim:
- to nurture and develop a love and respect for the outdoors, the natural world and to explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth.
- to provide a holistic form of education following the Forest School ethos and approach.
- to build a child’s resilience, self-esteem and well-being through child-led projects and activities.
- to develop a child’s self-confidence by using and understanding the safe use of tools such as hammers, mallets, drills and saws.
- to develop a child’s perception of risk and how it can be safely managed.
- to develop an understanding of growing fresh food in our vegetable beds and an awareness of the need to protect and sustain our environment.
- to improve physical, social and communication skills.
What is our impact?
Woodland School places a large emphasis on learning and developing skills over an extended period, to deeply embed a complete understanding of a skill. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning; time and freedom is given for them to explore and investigate their ideas and enter the state of “cognitive flow”. Cognitive flow happens when the children are fully immersed and focused on the moment and task in hand, often losing track of time. This type of immersion has many benefits, increasing the level of cognition in the brain and making connections, which can then stimulate high levels of creative thinking. We see this all the time in Woodlanders! Evidence for the impact of Woodlanders comes first and foremost from the children themselves. The children are extremely enthusiastic about these sessions and their increased confidence, independence and communication skills is hugely evident.
These are some of the things that the children have said about their Woodland School sessions:
“I love Thursdays, it’s my Woodland School day!”
Digging over the vegetable beds. The children have decided that they want to grow potatoes and are looking forward planting some and baking them once they are ready for harvesting.
“It’s so cool, we get to use tools and build our own dens!”
Mallet work…immersed in den-building!
“I love the team games and working together to catch people. I love being chased too…it’s so exciting”
Under a tarp working with clay…hadn’t even noticed it was raining!
“I like it when we close our eyes and breathe deeply. I like listening to all the sounds and feeling relaxed.”
Tin-can fires and toasting marshmallows to make s’mores!
“Making bird feeders was my favourite and then watching birds come and feed from them in the trees.”
Our Pre-school children don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn to use the tools safely. All activities are rigorously risk assessed and the children learn to risk assess for themselves too, which encourages a deep level of responsibility.
Please visit our Woodland School Blog (in the Class Blogs section) on the school website for our up-to-date news!