Last month, our Forest School Leaders, Ms Emma Satchel at BSB Sitges and Ms Kerry O’Connor at BSB Castelldefels, attended the Forest School Conference in Surrey. It was a fantastic opportunity for teachers from the UK, Sweden, Denmark, the US and Canada, who use the British Forest School model, to share best practices, discuss the latest research and evidence and refresh and acquire new skills.
“This year’s themes were a celebration of diversity and inclusion, the importance of physical, outdoor, nature-based experience as a support for cognition, as well a reminder of Forest School’s impact on children’s wellbeing.” Ms Emma Satchel said.
Forest School outdoor learning in BSB was launched in the 2017-2018 academic year at BSB Sitges and, following its success, was then introduced in the 2018-2019 academic year at BSB Castelldefels. Since then it has become part of the Primary learning approach in all year groups offering opportunities for curriculum-based activities as well as physical and mental health by connecting to a natural environment, taking part in sports and games, and learning new skills and crafts.
During the Conference there were many fascinating workshops; our Forest School leaders highlighted the following:
- Building Mental Toughness Naturally: Paths to resilience, through determination, self-challenge and agency.
- Lose your Mind – Challenging Mindfulness and Championing Play: A reminder that children’s state of mindfulness and that of adults are not the same, that children under 8 are usually in a relaxed state, fully mindful or ‘present in the moment’ when in movement and in play.
- Forest School in the International field: The importance of developing practice communities locally, as well as internationally.
- Physicality in Forest School – Ropes: How to build wings and other structures using ropes; something we have already put into practice with Year 4!
- Storytelling and Provocation with Early Years and Beyond: Which advocated being ‘at one’ in the woods and developing children’s confidence, language and imagination through a variety of exciting, outdoor storytelling approaches.
- Forest School and Autism: Which explored the sensory needs of not only children with autism might be seeking but others as well. It provided valuable tips on how to ensure an all-inclusive forest -outdoor session ensuring that sessions are accessible, safe and memorable for any child.
Keynote speakers were Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator and Andy Smith, founder of ‘A Spectrum of Possibilities,’ who gave a deeply inspiring speech about the benefits of Forest School for the neurodivergent.
There were also STEAM Workshops and a demonstration of engineering in the woods, using the ‘ask, imagine, plan, build, test, improve’ design process for creative problem solving.
“It was an invaluable experience and I particularly found the speakers from the Neurodiversity Forum, Andy Smith and others incredibly inspiring. A brilliant experience all round.”, Ms Kerry O’Connor.
About Forest School
“Forest Schools are nature-based communities where trained practitioners nurture learner led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts. Wellbeing is the foundation of our practise and through recognising the social, emotional and physical needs of participants we provide the guidance and facilitation for our time in nature.”