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'Shine Like A Star' Philippians 2:15

Wincle in the Wild

The Forest School Ethos


Wincle in the Wild links closely to the school vision:

Forest School at Wincle Primary School provides opportunities for all learners from their unique starting point in life to access learning in an outdoor setting.  Working in smaller groups enables them to grow in confidence in their surroundings, abilities, relationships with others, and the environment.

Learners acquire knowledge and skills at their pace in a safe environment where there is provision to go beyond personal boundaries developing resilience in supported risk-taking.  In a challenging, ever-changing environment, learners are encouraged to become reflective and consider how they are learning in a creative way of learning.

Time is given to developing personal skills in a multi-sensory environment regularly.  Through this continual acquisition of skills, learners' holistic development provides a more profound knowledge of self and the world around them, which can be applied to any setting or learning opportunity.

A summary of the Forest School approach to learning

Every Forest School is individual, just as each learner is, there are common elements and in 2011 six key principles were agreed by the UK Forest School community that form a shared and widely accepted Forest School ethos.

Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.

The impact of Forest School sessions will be greatest when the same group of children are given the opportunity to visit the same setting together on a regular basis over an extended period of time. Through this period of extended session learners gain confidence and an in-depth knowledge of being outdoors, for example, experiencing seasonal change. This enables learners to grow and learn about new challenges and potential for discovery.

Forest school sessions involve elements of review and reflection of activities and experiences that have taken place during the session. This supports confidence building and communication skills. Feedback is actioned when planning future sessions.

Principle 2: Forest School takes place in nature, to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

Forest School sessions run in an area, for example, woodland large enough to allow a range of activities without having a significant negative impact on the site, it allows for immersion in nature. Forest School planning considers, and aims to minimise, its impact on the environment. Sessions involve opportunities for learners to be part of nature, not separate from it; to consider their relationship with the site and the wider natural world to develop a desire to care for nature.

Principle 3: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create community, development and learning.

The Forest School is learner led, experiential, nature based, program of structured games and free play, guided and open activities of discovery.  The facilitator rather than ‘teacher’, listens and observe learners to inform next activities. The key to this style is flexibility, to be prepared for learners on their own learning journey deviating from planned activities.

Principle 4: Forest School aims to promote holistic development for all; fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

As well as learning about the natural environment and developing practical skills, sessions provide opportunities for outdoor education that inspires confidence, self-esteem, respect for nature and connection to self.

Forest School sessions provide safe environments for all, socially, mentally as well as physically. Everyone at the session, is accepted and valued. Forest School encourages collaboration rather than competition, generosity over selfishness, sustainability over exploitation.

Principle 5: Forest School offers learners opportunities to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

Learners are given freedom and opportunities to take appropriate risks, such as tool use, fire lighting and tree climbing. This builds confidence, allows children to learn and develop their physical and mental limits and make them better equipped to handle risk.

Forest School inspires a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, self-reliance rather than dependence, interconnectedness rather than isolation, creativity rather than consumption.

Principle 6: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously develop their professional practice.

Forest School sessions are led by trained forest school professionals. These qualified practitioners use  practical, skills knowledge and apply relevant theories. They adapt and challenge themselves, relentless in their pursuit of knowledge continuing to develop skills and practice, so that they provide the best experience for every learner.


Forest School Sessions – code of conduct


In order for all children to stay safe during Forest School sessions, the following rules, procedures and policies have been put in place to ensure children are aware of risks they take.


Walking to and from the site

  • All children are to walk in single file and hold on to the hand rails when on steps.

  • The Forest School Leader walks at the front of the line in order to check for hazards along the way. One member of staff walks at the back of the line and if available another member of staff to be based in the middle.

  • The Forest School Leader is to regularly complete head counts along the route to ensure children are all together.


Arriving at the site

When we arrive at the site the children recite a child-created poem.

‘God made me and God made you.

He made the world for us to see.

Look up look down.

Look all around before you step upon the ground.


Understanding the site boundaries

  • At the beginning of each session, the children will be made aware of where in the woodland they can explore and how far they can go.

  • When a wolf howl is given children stop what they are doing, howl a response and go directly to the Forest School Leader. They then sit in the respect position to await instructions.
    Through a range of games appropriate to the setting children are taught boundaries.


Picking up and playing with sticks

  • Children are allowed to carry sticks shorter than their arm’s length and reminded to consider how close they are to other children. Longer sticks can be dragged or carried with a child at both ends.

  • Sticks must not be thrown unless as part of an organised activity with clear rules. Sticks are not be pulled from living trees.


Tree Climbing

  • A risk assessment is to be carried out before a tree-climbing session on other sites. In advance the area below climbing trees will be checked for sharp objects and trees checked for loose branches. Children are not to climb higher than an adults arm length or chest height. (This will be taught). Unsafe or tempting trees can be marked with a hazard tape. Children will be taught how to check if branches are safe to climb.


Rope and String Use

  • Children will be encouraged to connect and transport materials but prevented from tying up other children or themselves! If a child has a good idea and wants, for example, to try and build a rope swing we help them and use the opportunity to model appropriate knot tying. All string and rope is collected up at the end of the session.


Carrying and Transporting Materials

  • The children are encouraged to roll, lift, drag and pull materials either by hand or using ropes. All adults are to  model the safe way to lift, which bending at the knees whilst keeping the back straight. Heavier objects are to be rolled, dragged or carried by more people.


Eating and Drinking

  • Children are taught not to eat anything found in the woods. and the phrase through ‘stop, no pick, no lick’. We reinforce this on a regular basis. Before eating snacks or drinks children use wipes to clean their hands.



Collecting Wood

  • Wood can only be collected from the ground. Again using the  ‘stop no pick, no lick’ phrase.


Leaving the Site

•    At the end of each session, the children take part in a ‘leave no trace’ tidy up task. If artefacts are made using ‘found materials’ these may be taken off site. Shelters should normally be demolished, and imported materials taken back into school at the end of each session. The site must always be left as it is found.

Forest School Behaviour Policy

Our school is a place where every individual is expected to show respect for all property whether it is natural or man-made.

Our school expects individuals to keep the Forest School site and surrounding environment safe and where possible to leave it in an even better state than they found it.

Our school promotes a positive attitude towards behaviour and discipline, by encouraging individuals to treat each other as they would want to be treated.

Our school is a place where we encourage children, staff, governors, parents and carers to work together in partnership, and where there is a common bond to provide the very best for all the children who attend. We promote inclusion and bullying of any kind will not be tolerated.

If bullying is reported, then the school bullying investigation process will be used and the forms from the Local Authority which have been formally approved by the governing body, and then share these with parents.


During the Forest School sessions pupils need to follow the main school behaviour routines. Pupils will be reminded of the Forest School safety rules and behaviour expectations at the start of each session.

The main safety rules and behaviour expectations are as follows:

  • Good listening. (listen when adult is talking)

  • Good Looking. (look around you and take care)

  • Good waiting.

•    Stay within the Forest School boundaries.

•    Keep everyone safe.

If pupils are not following the school behaviour routines:

  • Pupils to be reminded of behaviour expected. (verbal warning)

  • If behaviour escalates or continues - time out at a magic spot.

  • Failing this the pupil is to return to main school site and the head teacher is informed.


Forest School Equality policy

It is the right of EVERY child to achieve their full potential irrespective of race, culture, class, gender, special needs or ability and have access to the Forest schools experience.

All children should be adequately dressed and prepared (for example with sunscreen) so that they can take a full part in Forest School activities.

- All participants are supported in learning through a range of activities of a non- stereotypical nature such as knot-tying and the use of tools.

To ensure that all individuals are supported and kept safe, - all adults in Forest school are subject to DBS checks and are to ensure that they are kept up to date with Child Protection training and have a working knowledge of relevant policies.

All individuals are given time to talk, to give everyone opportunity to voice opinion and discuss how they are feeling. This includes when children are being supported or encouraged to ‘have a go’. Although participation is encouraged in all activities, when individuals feel that they would benefit from time to reflect or work on a self-chosen project that will be permitted as long as it is within safety and other policy expectations and is not negatively impacting other group members.


We undertake that all children:

  • Feel secure and know that their contributions are valued

  • Appreciate and value the differences they see in others.

  • Are able to participate safely in clothing appropriate to their religious beliefs.

  • Are taught in groupings that allow them to experience success

  • Use materials that reflect a range of social and cultural backgrounds

  • Have a common curriculum experience that allows for a range of different learning styles

  • Can set their own challenging targets to aim for

  • Participate fully, regardless of disabilities or medical needs.

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