St Mary’s Church of England (Berkhamsted) were awarded a grant for an outdoor mud kitchen, snuggle pod and a whole host of outdoor learning equipment. As Jodie Brown, nursery teacher and Science Lead explained:
"We currently have a Forest school space but need resources to really utilise this area in order to enhance learning, teach life-long skills, enable children to experience hands on practical learning in a creative way, where they can take reasonable risks to support self-esteem."
The forest school will benefit many pupils, both in lesson time and in afterschool clubs and will also be available for their linked preschool children. Jodie made a strong case for the equipment:
"At St Mary's Primary School & Nursery we are passionate about the positive impact that outdoor learning and Forest school activities can have on a child's well being, no matter what their age or ability. We have seen first-hand how some children who find formal academic learning a struggle, thrive during Forest school and outdoor learning. Their motivation levels increase dramatically, and they begin to shine in a way you don't always see in the classroom environment. Forest school and outdoor learning is something that will benefit all children from Nursery to Year 6 with Nursery, Reception and Year 1 have a weekly or fortnightly timetabled slot. By increasing a child's confidence levels this has a direct impact on learning back in the classroom as well as in the wider world.
Key benefits to Forest school and outdoor learning are:
-Building confidence and independence
-Feeling empathy for others and nature
-Improved mental health
-Learning by experience
-Exposure to manageable risk
-Better sleep and mood
We are also promoting more outdoor learning during Science lessons and the Forest school area provides a wonderful outdoor classroom for hands on practical learning."