Thursday 21 March 2013

Over 60 local educators attended the event on Wednesday 20 March to experience how Forest@UN can be used as a learning outside classroom venue.

Forest Schools aim to tackle the lack of access to play spaces and the natural environment, by allowing children to learn within a safe, natural, woodland environment. A broad curriculum can be taught in this woodland setting, allowing children, young people and adults the opportunity to appreciate their natural environment.

The 60 guests took part in a range of activities on the site, including building fires (and toasting marshmallows), whittling, weaving, building shelters and making mobiles from natural items. The braver guests climbed trees, and Danielle from St Andrews C/E Primary School in Kettering scaled ten feet in order to make a swing. Feedback from the event was exceptionally positive, with many teachers discussing bringing their pupils to Forest@UN, and engaging in more natural activities on their own school sites.

One of the only universities in the country to have this facility, the University of Northampton’s Forest School, entitled Forest@UN, is run as a social enterprise. The start up was supported by the University’s Enterprise Club, with funding from the Big Bonanza Programme. Forest@UN is available to be used by local education establishments free of charge, while students at the University on a wide range of courses will also gain a taste of the Forest School experience, by volunteering during schools’ visits. Forest@UN has already been used by students from Eastfield Academy, who will be making several return visits over the next term.

Chris Hill, Headteacher at Eastfield Academy said of Forest@UN: “It has been fantastic to have the opportunity to be involved in this unique experience.  We have built Forest Schools into a key part of our curriculum and have taken the experience past early years further up the school to the clear benefit of all involved. We really want to keep this place secret… we’d love to have it all to ourselves!”

Ken Bland, Head of Education, Children and Young People at the University of Northampton commented: “The University of Northampton is proud to launch this social enterprise as we see this as a way of building on our existing strong links with schools and early years settings, and allowing children and their parents to discover the value of playing in a natural environment. Students on courses also benefit as they can work with children when they visit the Forest School site.”

For further details about the event, click here.

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