Forest School takes children out of the classroom to learn not just about their natural environment, but to learn about themselves and the way they interact with each other.
The FS ethos focuses on learning styles that maximise the emotional, social and developmental benefits of education. Practitioners use learning and teaching strategies that raise self-esteem, develop confidence, independence and communication skills in a natural environment.
Learning from the Norwegian model where FS is an established method Forest Schools have spread throughout the United Kingdom, and have become an established part of the curriculum of many schools. Forest School practitioners working in the Blackdown Hills saw the need to incorporate the FS ethos into the curriculum of their local schools.
The Neroche Forest Schools Project
The Neroche project has enabled this idea to become a reality.
Between November 2007 and March 2011, the Neroche project employed a Forest Schools Officer (Clare Neenan) and funded and supported over 60 teachers and school staff to receive training as Forest School practitioners. Covering the Taunton and Northern Blackdown Hills area, the Neroche FS project reached 24 schools, bringing the principles of FS to over 2000 primary and secondary school children to date.
By establishing many Forest School sites the Neroche project has enabled schools to continue to provide Forest School for their pupils. Sometimes the site may be on the unused edges of the school grounds, or where possible in local woodlands.
Eleven of the schools involved were funded through the Taunton Learning Partnership
The Neroche Forest Schools project was able in many cases to train several staff within a given school, to create a firm basis for continued FS activity. Staff were trained either at Level 2 FS assistant practitioner, or at Level 3 FS practitioner. The OCN-accredited training was delivered by the Devon-based Forest Schools Training Company.
The Blackdown Hills Forest Education Cluster Group
An informal networking group exists to enable practitioners and others interested in supporting the continuing development of Forest Schools in the Taunton Deane area to share skills and experience.
The Cluster Group meets regularly, providing opportunities for exchange and continued professional development. You can join the Cluster Group site to keep informed of what’s happening locally and nationally: Link to cluster group - to be updated
Forest School DVD
A Classroom without walls - Forest School for Everyone
A new Forest School DVD has been put together by the Blackdown Hills Cluster Group, with sponsorship from the FEI, Somerset County Council and the Neroche Scheme. The Forest School DVD is available from the Neroche office, subject to a donation of £5. Cheques should be made out to 'Blackdown Hills Cluster Group'
LINKS NOT YET ACTIVATED - WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY
Neroche Forest School - YouTube clip
Forest Schools Cluster Group
Forest Schools Cluster Group on Facebook
Forest School Training Company
Forest Education Initiative
Habitat advice: Butterfly Conservation
Institute for Outdoor Learning
Or download the latest cluster group UPDATE (1mb)
Resources for Schools
Download Environmental Games and Activities for Rangers and Schools Booklet : a useful collection of activities compiled by Forest Schools leaders
Format: Adobe pdf. Size: 3.5Mb. Click HERE to download