Friars Academy - 2022-30

Forest School Leader: Mrs J. Hamilton

We are very proud of our Forest School at Friars, and although it is in its ‘sapling stages’, it is growing fast, and our students are blossoming as a result. 

Spending time in nature has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to all aspects of life, wellbeing and learning. Here at Friars Academy every child is given the opportunity to engage in Forest School sessions where they have a chance to engage with the natural world around them in whichever way they wish. Sessions are designed to encourage play and supported risk-taking. We tend to focus on communication and teamwork and on developing confidence and self-esteem, but we also provide them with life skills and, most importantly, remind them of the joy of play. 

"Play is our brain's favourite way of learning" -Diane Ackerman

Forest School is not a curriculum area in that we do not follow a set curriculum or programme but nonetheless, it encompasses many aspects of the curriculum. Sessions are organic and develop with the child and group. The opportunities they are offered or choose to engage in will depend on their needs, interests and abilities. 

Forest School happens in all seasons and all weathers (apart from extreme examples such as very high winds and thunderstorms). Students are encouraged to bring their own clothes and to take responsibility for dressing for the weather. We have kit which can be borrowed as necessary. 

Being outside is beneficial to mental and physical health – it has been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, whilst boosting mood and life satisfaction; people who spend lots of time outside are more active and healthier. It can be hugely beneficial for people with autism and ADHD; it helps reduce anxiety and can even improve gut health! It also helps them to engage with the natural world and understand the importance of respecting and looking after it. In turn, this helps them to become good citizens and to develop their sense of care and understanding. 

We are working hard to develop a Forest School site on school grounds, but we also have a Forest School area which we travel to use – each has their benefits, and it will again depend on the needs of the group as to where it takes place.