Last week we held the official opening of our expansive Forest School site, set within the College grounds, which we have been planning, growing and developing for the last few years.
Prof. Dave Goulson from Sussex University did the honours by cutting the vine; alongside The Headmaster Richard Taylor-West, Junior Head Kathryn Stokes and two members of the Shoreham College Parents Association – Jo Bushby and Wendy Allen.
Moving on to then spend a typical few hours in the life of a Forest School, pupils of the College excitedly showed them around and invited them to join in the many activities they enjoy.
The Forest School originated from the joint mindset of the Headmaster Richard Taylor-West, who wanted to see ‘children getting their hands dirty’; and Junior Head Kathryn Stokes, who wanted the children to be able to get back to nature, to experience awe, wonder and mindfulness and to help develop confidence and self-esteem.
The Shoreham College Parents’ Association funded the costs and after tonnes of concrete being removed, lots of planning and planting we now have a wondrous forest area, full of life and intrigue for our children to explore and learn. Shoreham College thanks all who helped make this happen, the Woodland Trust for donating trees and special praise to Nick Milner, our resident groundsman, who has worked tirelessly to help bring our forest to life.
Junior teacher Mrs Savill trained with the Sussex Wildlife Trust for over a year to become a qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader, and says, “Children can learn to communicate, be independent, be creative, assess risks, team-build, and so much more. We always have a fire with hot chocolate which the children make and serve, we learn bushcraft, whittling, sawing, shelter-building, problem-solving, and in all weathers, the children love it!”
Richard Taylor-West spoke proudly, 'It was a privilege to have Prof. Goulson from Sussex University with us to officially open our Forest School. We are so lucky that the College Parents Association agreed to fund the project. It has already brought such a great deal of fun and learning to the pupils in the Junior School here. Whether it be spotting mini-beasts, like the ladybird pupa we saw at the opening, or learning to tell the difference between plants or just listen to the wind in the trees, it is a great place to learn.'
Prof Goulson said: 'It's really important to get the pupils out into a different environment in which they can learn so much. It's great to capture that enthusiasm they have to hunt bugs and explore when they are young.'
He was particularly impressed by our new fern garden: 'It's a lovely spot that will become impressive, as the plants mature.'
One parent from Shoreham College spoke about the new Forest School experience, “I must congratulate you as my son has grown in confidence and really enjoys making friends and wallowing in the mud. He surprised me the other week when I stated how much mud could one fit on a little boy and his answer was “You can wash the mud away but not the memories” I have yet to hear a bad word said from any parent or pupil regarding the activities within the forest programme and I am immensely impressed at what miracles are achieved getting my son away from a screen and actually enjoying the outside space.”
Forest School is an educational approach to playing and learning outdoors. Denmark established Forest Schools in the 1980s based on providing children with a nursery education that would encourage them to appreciate and learn about the natural world.
Children who attend Forest Schools have been shown to develop strong social skills, high self-esteem and to have confidence in their own abilities.