On Thursday 17th October Braithwaite School welcomed visitors and friends to their new Forest Schools Adventurers area on the school site to celebrate the work that has been done to transform this space for outdoor learning and thank all those who have supported the project with finances, time and advice.
The younger pupils welcomed visitors with their Forest Schools song before an older pupil read an opening prayer. Mrs Roe, Forest Schools Lead Teacher, then explained briefly what Forest School is about before Mrs Laker, Executive Headteacher, thanked the various visitors who had supported the project. The visitors then had a chance to look around the site with the pupils and then enjoyed hot chocolate and toast with blackberry jam (made by the pupils earlier in the term after a record was found of Braithwaite pupils doing this in 1939 as war was declared).
The project has been supported by a grant of £9950 from the Big Lottery Fund, as well as a further grant of £1000 from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ initiative (in partnership with Groundwork). This funding has been used to create a campfire area with logs around, dry stone river bed and fell bridge, shelter and store for tools and equipment. Donations from the charity Epic Kidz (supported by the Lakeland 100 event) and from the Community Grant Scheme of North Lakes and Dales (Coop) have helped with the purchase of equipment and to pay for Forest Schools training. Two members of staff and a parent volunteer have completed the first part of the level 3 Forest Schools training as well as a two day specialist outdoor First Aid course. This will be followed by a further 4 day assessment week in June next year to complete the qualification needed in order to run a full ‘Forest Schools’ programme.
Forest schools is an ethos of child led learning outside that is shown to have many benefits for children including motivation, health and wellbeing. Every child in Braithwaite School now takes part in a minimum of half a day of outdoor learning in the Forest Schools area on site. The school also seeks opportunities to take their outdoor learning off site, including a full day visit on Friday in the woods around Derwentwater.
Mrs Jo Laker, Executive Headteacher, said, “This is a fantastic resource for outside learning and play for our pupils. The children are thoroughly enjoying their Forest Schools sessions, especially building dens and gathering round the firepit.”
This project is a culmination of years of work by the school involving the School staff, Local Governing Body, parents and pupils. Other local organisations have offered support and practical help including the National Trust Forestry, Forestry Commission, Above Derwent Parish council and a number of local businesses are also working with the school as part of the project including Ambleside Tree Services Ltd and Millican.
Mrs Roe, Early Years and Forest Schools lead teacher, commented, “We are grateful for the support of everyone who has been involved with this project as it has been a real team effort. We are really excited about the opportunities for learning for our pupils that this resource will offer on our school site.”
The school is holding an Open Morning on Thursday 31st October from 10am to 12 noon when any prospective parents or other members of the community can visit the school and view the facilities, both inside and outside.