Forest School at St George's
St George's Preparatory School prides itself on its holistic approach to education. In layman's terms, this means that we don't just educate the mind, we educate the whole body, the heart, the limbs and right to the very ends of the fingertips. So our children learn how to care, to be kind and thoughtful, to use their common sense and to know what is right and wrong and why.
Our Forest School ethos forms a central part of the curriculum - its aim is to ensure children develop emotionally as well as intellectually. We all know intelligent people who haven't got an inkling of common sense or a sense of humour. At St George's we believe that for a child to succeed in life, intellect isn't enough and other factors such as sociability, problem solving, stickability, team work, creativity and self belief are just as important. This is where the Forest School approach helps to develop children in ways that conventional educational approaches cannot.
Forest Schools have been established in the Scandinavian countries since the 1950’s. They grew out of necessity – the post war (WW2) baby boom highlighted the lack of space in pre-school provision, therefore Forest Schools grew in areas with an abundance of outdoor space. Typically, a Scandinavian Forest School utilised a basic farm building as a base, but children, up to the age of seven, spent the majority of the day outdoors with children using nature as their main resource. Well clothed babies would sleep outdoors in an insulated pram and would explore nature at ground level by crawling in the mud or undergrowth. We too are happy to allow babies to sleep outdoors should parents request this.
The Scandinavian model puts children firmly in control of their own learning and adults assist and facilitate their play. Children are encouraged to make their own decisions, engage in self chosen activities, take risks, develop problem solving strategies and use a variety of tools.
Although our methods and views on childcare and education in the UK prevent us from recreating the Scandinavian model, we can embrace the principles and enjoy the many benefits of this holistic approach towards outdoor learning.
Don't confuse Forest School with 'outdoor education' which is offered by some schools. The main differences are that Forest School sessions must be delivered by a qualified Forest School practitioner and that children participate in regular sessions over a period of time, in all but the very worst weather. It is the cumulative effect of the sessions which brings about the changes in attitudes, behaviours and learning.
The Forest School concept was initially brought into the UK in the mid 1990’s by Bridgewater College in Somerset and since then it has grown across the whole of the UK in varying degrees. In Lincolnshire, it is fair to say, St George's Preparatory School, Little Dragons Nursery and Dragon's Nest are at the forefront of developing a curriculum underpinned by the forest schools ethos. This combined with our small class sizes of 15 (or fewer children) and our experienced and inspirational teachers, makes our school a unique place, not only to learn at but also to grow in.