Early Years And Pre School – Case study for the implementation of Forest Schools for a group of 16 four year olds
Clients name and details: Jane Wallis, Green Lane Nursery, Green Lane, Buxton
Project 1: July 2003 6 weeks
Project 2: July 2004 6 Weeks
Number and ages/background of children involved
Initial project: 16 children from the nursery aged 4 years, last term of nursery transition into school. Children from a wide variety of backgrounds as intake from all parts of the town.
Project 2: 24 Children from Green Lane Nursery (3 year olds) and Buxton Nursery (4 year olds). Green Lane feeds into Buxton Nursery, which is situated in the Infant School. After the success and impact of the project on the personal and social development of the children who had attended the previous year. Parents of the younger children had requested that their children could attend so they could get 2 x 6 week projects (one this year and one next year) as they believe Forest Schools to be such a fantastic opportunity for their children.
The funding for the project was provided from 50% nursery budget and 50% parent’s contribution. Staffing ratios were maintained through 2 Archimedes Forest School Practitioners, parents, carers and nursery staff.
Transport costs were kept to a minimum by using the nursery mini bus and parent vehicles.The woodland was 20 minutes drive away from the nursery and this was provided through the Peak Park Woodlands manager. Use of woods in this way fulfils their National Park woodland policy to extend use for education of the local community.
Risk Assessments were carried out and the Peak Park Authority with Archimedes Training Limited co-funded the placement of gates into the woodland and through the local farmers field, which needed to be crossed to reach the woods. The woods have no other public access and contained some remains of archaeological value. The Archimedes staff in negotiation with the nursery staff developed the programme. This worked towards Early Leaning goals set out in the short, medium and long term planning of the nursery. Many of the areas were supported back in the setting to maximise the learning potential of the Forest Schools experience.So what actually happens on an Early Years project
Each week the sessions follow the same format so that the children know what to expect and what is expected from them. Here is one example:
9.00 Leave nursery
9.30 The children arrive at the parking site and have Safety brief
9.40 Review of last week activities and introduction to link to the theme of the day (insects, fairies, etc) Staff use different media to accommodate different sensory learning styles, pictures, songs, acting out what will happen. Group follow a trail to the site.
10.00 Sit at Forest School site and count trail cards along with number theme and talking about anything interesting on the way up. Sing the Forest School Song
10.15 Toilet, Wash Hands, Snack and story time
10.30 Game…1,2,3 Where are you and other themed activities. Fairy houses, Mini beast hunts, Picture making.
All children will take back an item they have made or created. This is the link with home to create positive communication.
11.30 Review of session and Collect up everything and walk back to minibus.
12.00 Travel back to School The Forest School Song has become an intricate part of Buxton Nursery and the children and staff regularly sing it. It creates a visual image for the children and positive emotional responses, enabling rapid recall of the Forest Schools experience in order to extend and adapt the activities in the nursery and home setting.
Interesting and Unique Facts about the Early Years And Pre School Project
Buxton Nursery has been awarded the highest OFSTED inspection in the county as a reflection of its long term planning involving Forest Schools and the overall emphasis that the management place on outdoor play.
The future and possible ideas for further funding
Funding is being sought in order to deliver a 2005 project at Buxton Nursery. NOF Funding is available for out of school hours provision, including lunch and break time.
In Derbyshire there is an under spend at present so any organisation, LEA or private who wishes to provide Forest School activities at their setting can contact Saskia Talis through Derbyshire central switchboard in Matlock 01629 580000 for further information.
Archimedes Training is very proud that Derbyshire has recognised its quality provision and has been awarded a training contract to deliver Forest School Practitioner Awards at Level 1 to 3 to people working within Derbyshire Early Years and Out of School network.
The projects have proved a great success both with the children and the parents. The impact has been so significant in some cases that the end of year reports for the children had to be re written in order to reflect the dramatic changes in the communication skills of these particular children. Some of whom had been described as ‘quiet’, had interacted in a much more positive way with peers during the project as they increased their self-esteem and confidence.
Parents have commented on the positive impact Forest Schools has had in terms of their children’s communication at home and had an increased desire to interact with parents and peers about their wonderful experiences. Children become more adventurous during the six weeks and were keen to develop their skills and knowledge and understanding back in the nursery setting.