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Forest School

Forest School at Bensham Manor

We have an exceptionally qualified and experienced team of facilitators who have been running our Forest School sessions for Bensham since 2008. 

Suzy is the Founder and Executive Director of Go Wild With Us UK C.I.C. www.gowildwithusuk.org – the organisation curating our Forest School sessions. 

Suzy has a deep connection to nature and is passionate about supporting others to rebuild their own connections with the Wild. A highly experienced and qualified practitioner, passionate about accessibility and affordability for all you can find out more about her here:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzy-strudwick-520123153/

Anne Marie is our Forest School link teacher and is present at most of the Forest School Sessions to advise on support needs, and to support facilitators with behaviour management.  She is also a trained Forest School Leader and will often co-facilitate some activities which require more than one facilitator.

We are also accompanied by one or more TA’s – usually the TA associated with the class, but sometimes it will be a TA who is more experienced with supporting our Forest School sessions.

What Happens at Forest School?

Forest School leaders introduce activities to the group in order to awaken their interest, inspire their creativity and give the group ideas to develop themselves. 

As the weeks progress, and the young people become familiar with their outdoor space, the safe routines of Forest School, and the possibilities open to them, they are encouraged to initiate their own play and develop ideas at their own pace. Forest School leaders are trained to observe the participants as individuals and to appreciate individual learning styles. This enables them to facilitate further learning and progression through provision of appropriate support.

Activities really do vary greatly depending on the level of need of each participant, and it is not possible to list everything here but a typical session could include;

  • Friction Fire lighting and camp fire management
  • Simple camp fire cooking
  • Art and sculpture with natural materials
  • Activities and crafts using hand tools (saw / billhook / palm drill
  • Knife skills training sessions
  • Den building and habitats
  • Yoga, movement and mindfulness
  • Navigation, Nature Awareness and Tracking skills
  • Participant led exploration and discovery
  • Storytelling and Roleplay
  • Nature Based Physical, Communication and Cognitive Challenges

Benefits of Forest School

Much research has been done over the last 2 decades into the benefits of outdoor learning and Forest Schools in the UK. In our own experience of running FS programmes since 2008 we know of many benefits to participants both immediately through direct observation and in the longer term through subsequent evaluation by schools and groups.

Some of the benefits we have observed are:

  • Emotional growth, increase in self reliance and independence, allowing participants to take responsibility for their own learning and  development
  • Promotion of holistic and individualised development through the encouragement of child initiated projects extended with sensitive adult support.
  • Development of respect and care for the natural world, and increase in children’s knowledge and understanding of the outdoors.
  • Improved physical strength and stamina through regular access to a varied and challenging environment
  • Increased practical skills, coordination and dexterity through the use of tools and natural resources to make chosen artefacts.
  • Supporting development of personal and social skills and to aid the building of relationships within real life contexts.
  • Enthusing participants to transmit their experiences through writing, storytelling and pictures back in their educational setting.
  • Extending knowledge and enthusiasm of the programme at home, as children are keen to show their skills and encourage family members into the outdoors

More information

All pupils attend 6 sessions in year 8 as part of the curriculum.  They will get a taster session in year 7 in the summer to prepare them for their 6 week block in year 8. 

We go out in all weathers throughout the year, but are fully prepared to support pupils with this whatever the weather is doing. 

We are based at Heartwood which is our site on the Frylands Wood Scout Centre in Selsdon.  It is a fit for purpose site, with a large group shelter, fire circle, toilets, and covered craft area.  We are currently developing a green gym, and are fundraising to have a yurt with a woodburner for colder weather and a covered yoga deck for wellbeing activities.

We travel to the site by school minibus and are back by 3pm for end of school. 

Any questions you can email Anne Marie Abalo at

annemarieabalo@benshammanor.com

Go Wild With Us UK CIC also offers holiday activities.  You can email them here to find out more:  office@gowildwithusuk.org