At St Nicholas CEVC Primary school, we place great value on the development of children as individuals, recognising that all children are unique and special to God. We provide them with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to prepare them for the challenges in Key Stage One and beyond. Our aim in the Early Years Foundation Stage is to build strong foundations rooted in academic success, as well as moral and spiritual development, so that ultimately our children can be successful and go on to be active citizens of society and happy, curious life-long learners.
Our curriculum is therefore the cultural capital we know our children need so that they can gain the knowledge, skills and understanding they require for success. They can only do that if we embed the right habits for learning through the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning: Play, Exploration, Active Learning, Creativity and Critical Thinking.
At the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage is the teaching of early reading, which includes a systematic approach to the teaching and learning of phonics. Twinkl Phonics is embedded in our curriculum to teach the knowledge needed for reading and story times throughout the day, foster a life-long love of reading.
Our warm environment and skillful adult interactions support the children as they link learning to their play and exploration. This is delivered through a holistic curriculum which maximises opportunities for meaningful cross-curricular links and learning experiences, as well as promoting the unique child by offering extended periods of play and sustained thinking following children’s interests and ideas.
We value imagination and creativity and seek to create a sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning through a vibrant continuous indoor and outdoor provision, alongside trips, visits and regular forest school sessions.
Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting. Its roots reach back to the open-air culture, 'friluftsliv', or free air life, seen as a way of life in Scandinavia where Forest School began. It arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then.
The process helps and facilitates more than knowledge-gathering, it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. It creates a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try out and take risks. Forest School inspires a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how a learner fits within it.
Our approach to risk means that learners constantly expand on their abilities by solving real-world issues, building self-belief and resilience. We believe that risk is more than just potential for physical harm, but more holistic. There are risks in everything we do, and we grow by overcoming them. Forest School therefore, helps participants to become, healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners.
Six key principles shape and govern the Forest School ethos. There are many forms of outdoor education and all have enormous value, however, Forest School is unique in its reach, delivery and effect.
These six principles are:
These can be summarised as, learners are all:
• equal, unique and valuable
• competent to explore & discover
• entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
• entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
• entitled to experience regular success
• entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
• entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
Forest School’s learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference, making each session and every experience a valuable one.
Currently, all children in Year R are involved twice a week. We hope to expand our Forest School provision to more year groups in the future.
If you would like to volunteer in our Forest School, we would love to hear from you.