Woodpecker Forest School

Woodpecker Forest School at St James' Primary School is organised and led by Tricia King and Heather Hadley and supported by Philippa Greenaway and Wendy Peet. 

We aim to give every child the opportunity to experience forest school during their time at St James. The idea of Forest School was developed in Scandinavia in the 1950s and is a programme of repeated visits to a woodland area.  The children are enabled to have freedom to develop their own learning.  The adult’s role is as a facilitator to provide resources and teaching skills by modelling good practice in skills acquisition.  The ethos of Forest School is relaxed, non-threatening and child-led with a strong emphasis on allowing the children to have uninterrupted time to become completely absorbed (flow) in what they are doing.

Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

Principle 5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

Principle 6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

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Forest School Weather Conditions
In keeping with traditional practices of Forest Schools the philosophy is ‘there is no such thing as bad weather’, we just encourage appropriate clothing to match the weather conditions. Children who are dressed appropriately for inclement weather such as wet and cold, do enjoy their time in the outdoors.

To enable the children to experience all the wonders of the seasons Forest School sessions happen all year round, in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

The health, safety and well-being of the children and staff are always of paramount concern during woodland sessions, but the weather can be difficult to predict on any given day, especially during the winter months.  Sometimes the weather predicted may not materialize, while in other cases, weather could change quickly over the course of the session. 

Occasionally, and at the Forest School Leader's discretion, it may be necessary to shorten the woodland session if weather conditions change or worsen, or hold the woodland session in another part of the school grounds.

Forest School define extreme weather as:

• Sustained freezing temperatures for duration of session.
• High winds (gusting/gale force winds).
• Lightning.