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Risk and its Importance in Forest Schools Programmes for Learning and Development

February 7, 2017
Learning and Development

Risk and its Importance in Forest Schools Programmes for Learning and Development

“It is argued that taking risks can have positive implications in terms of children’s developmental, social and emotional needs, as well as their overall health. By providing the opportunities for children to manage their own risks in a controlled environment, they will learn vital life skills needed for adulthood, and gain the experience needed to face the unpredictable nature of the world.” (Gill, 2007)

Excellent quote from Tim Gill; But what does it actually mean for us? You know that I am proponent of the idea that we assume nothing presume nothing.

So what exactly do you, I, we understand by this; what is a controlled environment for example; what does it mean specifically, how controlled, how free; what do we expose our children to; what do we do to protect; what do we allow; what do we manage and what do we allow children through different age cohorts to manage for themselves – specifically?

These questions are fundamental to our understanding and then to the relationship that we have with the environment, with our staff, with our school governors, with our parents and with our children themselves.  They are key to how we then go about supporting learning and development through our programmes over the course of their schooling years.

Forest Schools has a core ethos regarding child-centered learning and the offer of play to children whilst they are attending our programmes. But how can we actually incorporate the principles of play and is this process in a reasonable and acceptable and totally realistic way? How do we incorporate free play experiences that we are able to plan for, and offer our children at our Forest Schools programme throughout each session, or if this is planned can it actually be free play at all?

Play Wales (2008) states that play means ‘…providing opportunities for all children to encounter or create uncertainty, unpredictability, and potential hazards as part of their play. We do not mean putting children in danger of serious harm.’

It was Play England in 2007 that can maybe answer this question for us

‘Good risks and hazards in play provision are those that engage and challenge children, and support their growth, learning and development. These might include… loose materials that give children the chance to create and destroy constructions using their skill, creativity and imagination.’

So we are in the woods, out in the wild unfettered environment and we are allowing our children to go and explore and investigate and to get into their deep learning states that promotes learning and emotional connections. Excellent, we need to do no more, our session is sorted! We just sit back and observe and monitor what’s happening and all is well that ends well. Our Forest Schools leader role is complete. Our children go to play and to find and to build and to destroy and to jump and pretend and imagine and fantasies, and rough and tumble, jump, climb and role play and recapitulate and dramatise.

Oh but hang on

‘Bad risks and hazards are those that are difficult or impossible for children to assess for themselves, and that have no obvious benefits. These might include sharp edges or points on equipment, weak structures that may collapse, and items that include traps for heads or fingers.’ (Play England 2007)

But how do we know what a bad risk is for one child and the exact same thing may not be for another?

As a forest Schools Practitioner qualified to Level 3 you are the Safety Officer. That means you are responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to eliminate exposure to significant risks that could cause harm to people, the environment and to things or equipment.

But how will you actually know what is significant, or unsuitable for your group to be exposed to?  You will base your decisions on the physical, cognitive and linguistic skills of your children, individually. How do you know what these are? It is through your baseline assessments and through Procedural documentation and Risk Assessment processes. But of course these will be balanced by your Benefits Analysis carried out against each identified hazard as well. These are provided to evidence that as a qualified Level 3 Forest Schools practitioner you thought about, assessed and monitored any identified significant risks to your group. But your job is to balance this and not eliminate all risks entirely.

‘Children and young people themselves recognise that ‘you can’t make everything safe’ and that a balance is needed between risks and fun (and the opportunity to be put into situations that may contain risk, but that without this exposure learning could not take place in any dimension – SB (2105) . Children recognise that knowing about risks and how to manage them is an essential part of growing up… Through play, children are able to learn about risks and use their own initiative. If children and young people are not allowed to explore and learn through playing and taking part in positive activities, they will not learn how to judge risks and manage them for themselves. These skills learnt through play and other activities can act as a powerful form of prevention in other situations where children and young people are at risk.’ (Play England, 2007)

Dweck (2000) states that:

‘encouraging children to enjoy challenges rather than to shy away from them could also increase their persistence and learning abilities.’ And we are reading more and more to support this view in the papers and in the news. Children are becoming so mollycoddled and protected that certain traits like independence, resilience, creativity and confidence are being eroded away.   

Playwork Principle 8 says:

‘Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well-being of children.’

Principle 8 allows us as Forest Schools Practitioners make a decision based on the prescribed process of risk-benefit analysis or assessment. TO reiterate what we mean here, if there is an identified hazard, what is the benefit or good that a child or group of children will gain from exposure to that particular hazard in the course of our experiences that we offer as part of the Forest Schools programme? Also, does the benefit outweigh the detrimental affects that this hazard could have on the child or group if they were exposed to it whilst in our care? Is the hazards affects serious or life threatening and if so how can these be managed in such a way that the child can still be exposed to due to other learning benefits that may be available.

Hazards provide opportunities for learning and development.

‘In a playground, (woodland – SB 2015) bumps, bruises scrapes and even a broken limb are not necessarily warning signs of greater dangers, as they might be considered in a factory or office environment. They are to be expected as part of everyday life for children growing up.

Providers need to decide for themselves what level of risk is appropriate in their provision, because the type and style of provision must be responsive to local circumstances … However, there are benefits from this approach at all levels and for all those involved in play, but above all for the children, who will have happier and more satisfying experiences of childhood with richer opportunities for healthy growth and development into competent and confident adults.’ (Play England, 2007)

What Are the benefits children, young people, and others will gain as a result of this experience?

Consider Physical, intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional, Social and spiritual.

Think creatively and identify IN DETAIL

What are the options of enhancing those benefits and what are the pros and cons for each one?

  • Increase the opportunities for engagement (with good risk).
  • Do nothing.
  • Monitor the situation (including supervision).
  • Increase the reach of the benefit.
  • The benefit is not significant enough compared to the risk involved

What are the Risks that children young people, and others will be exposed to?

What are the options for managing the risk, and what are the pros, cons and costs of each?

  • Decrease the opportunities for engagement (with bad risk).
  • Do nothing.
  • Monitor the situation (including supervision).
  • Lessen or manage the risk.
  • Remove the risk.

So we are now considering the consequences of our actions and one thing that Forest Schools Education gets asked quite often is about the Risk and likelihood of harm occurring and what is done to safeguard children. Well. In answer to that every probably and possible precautions, protections and insurances are put into place. These include deep level and constructive training processes that ensure that trainees follow procedure and process when opening an opportunity to encounter the riskier experiences. This includes safe working practices and these are to be unconsciously understood and participated in before any adult is permitted or entitled to use their skills with the children. Archimedes ensures that this is the case and as such we are confident in the preservation of child safety and wellbeing. We are not saying, however, that children will not encounter risk or acceptable harm along the way.

‘It is highly unlikely that a competent play worker will ever be taken to court and successfully prosecuted for negligence because the safeguards that we put in place to protect both ourselves and the children are sensible and show that we have a professional approach to risk.’ – (Play Wales, 2008)

Many of our children are building up their skills in terms of physical strength, dexterity, their resilience to be able to cope with failure and things that don’t go quite right for them, to understand altruism and awe and wonder, to be allowed to encounter Risk as Tim Gill suggest, sound judgment about themselves and others and the world around them develop as a consequence of being given opportunity to work at and to problem solve and to reflect on their experiences appropriately.

It is exactly the same with us as an adult or a Forest Schools Practitioner and as a result, we will be finding our own feet as we develop our skills in this new and flourishing industry we find ourselves. We need to feel comfortable and we need to feel able and flexible in our thinking in order to allow children to explore within their boundaries and for us not to be fearful to empower children in their play and leaning at Forest Schools. However, this comes with experience and as experience develops so does a broader understand of empathy and common sense can begin to prevail. ,

There is a pressure point where society influences the decisions and choices of parents and educational establishments and it is the responsibility of the Forest Schools practitioner who has a broad picture, the correct training and a personal confidence to balance this potential ‘cotton-wooling’ of our generations. Creativity comes from the explosion of thought and innovation, this will inevitably contain some aspect of risk and this is to be positively encouraged at Forest Schools. However this also needs to be managed well in order to allow children to be entrusted into our care and one of the best ways that this can be done is simply through enabling adults and decision makers to encounter Forest Schools for themselves as there is no boundaries to it no restrictions on age, culture, location, gender and ability.

Risk is not a scary thing when it is a perceived risk and when the Forest Schools practitioner, thought their own experience and understanding of the individual child, the group and the environment understands the extent of the risk and the consequential harms that could happen. They also have a deep understanding of the processes involved in minimizing those risks and as such can allow children to experiment within safe and acceptable boundaries of behaviours.

Research is showing that Forest Schools extends thought processes, encourages freedom, allows the development of creativity, understanding of self and others and the world around them

Extended Reading

Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’
www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play- provision-implementation-guide

Play Wales (2008) ‘A Playworker’s Guide to Risk’
www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMA TION%2 0SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf

Simon Nicholson’s ‘Theory of Loose Parts’

Bristol Scrapstore’s PlayPods project
www.playpods.co.uk

Play Englands ‘Play, Naturally’ project
http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/130593/play-naturally.pdf

References

Dweck (2000) ‘Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality and development’

Gill (2007) ‘No Fear: growing up in a risk adverse society’

Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’ Download from http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play-provision-implementation-guide

Play Wales (2008) ‘A Playworker’s Guide to Risk’ Download from
www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMATION%20SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf

Get Children Outdoors

10 Things To Try On The Walk Back From School

January 21, 2017
10 Things To Try On The Walk Back From School

1. Treasure Hunt and Collect on the Walk Back From School

– 10 twigs,
– 9 leaves
– 8 stones
– 7 petals
– 6 long blades of grass
– 5 Short blades of grass
– 4 yellow things
– 3 red things
– 2 precious things
– 1 thing you like above all others

2. Make a collage of all the things you found on the treasure hunt

Each spark of creativity allows your child’s perception of the world to expand and colours and shapes and textures take on a hole new meaning.

3. Search for and collect all the colours of the rainbow and pop them in a small paper bag

Colours are hidden everywhere and sometimes in the most unbelievable spaces and places. Look for the miniscule and the huge, look upwards and downwards and the whole journey back to your home can take so many twists and turns, and you can be a giant or a Tom Thumb or Tinkerbelle, searching under leaves, inside flowers, at the base of trees, on leaf stems and flower stalks and the world will become alive with colour and visual details that engage the awe and wonder of our imaginations and spirits

4. Search the street walls for mosses and small creatures

We are not alone and as we search we can see such a variety of flora and fauna that we scan but never actually ‘see’ any more. Mosses will be the first plant that starts to use the nutrients of the host, the wall, or small areas of dust and soil to grow, they will break down those nutrients in order to establish themselves and this is the dawn of evolutionary and successive processes. The living world cannot stop moving by the seasons and as the food grows, so will the invertebrates that can begin to live in the small cracks and crevices of our world, until today, hidden in the shadows of our perceptions and consciousness.

5. Hug the Street Trees

Wrap your arms around them and put your cheek on their bark, is it rough or smooth?

– Ask yourself the following questions about that tree
– Is it older or younger than me
– Does it have a name
– Can I draw or paint it?
– What shaped leaves does it have?
– Does anything live in its branches?
– Is the bark smooth or rough
– Do any creatures live in the bark
– Think of a name for your tree and come back tomorrow

Having a special tree is like the woodsmen of the olden days, they used to read the woods and forests as they grew and matured, they understood them and could see if they were healthy or sick, when a new branch emerged and when a bud exploded onto the flowers that set for the seeds to be dispersed for another season. Having your own tree allows your child to learn that seasons com and seasons go and they can understand their own sense of place and space in the world around them.

6. Count Fish in the river or pond

The rivers and ponds are special places, water is a natural relaxant and reduces stress just be being around it. If you can sit and watch the reflections of the overhanging trees, the riverside plants and the swiftly turning and for every changing directions of the fish that live there, we begin to get lost in a whole new world and our brain waves change allowing the stresses and anxieties of the day to simply melt away into the very water itself and we can emerge smiling and well. We can begin to imagine their little stories and create new worlds of fantasy and magic around those fish as they swish their tales and gulp in the air through their gills.

7. Walk barefoot through the grass and leaves in the park

Walk Barefoot

Become grounded, literally! We have earth cables in our electricity to ensure that our systems work well. In the same way we require earthing and we benefit from the touch of the soil, the textures of the ground, the variety of different sensations as they massage our feet on our nature trail of discovery and stimulations on our journey home.

8. Make a magic wand

a. Find a special stick that would make a great wand
b. Collect some ‘magic’ things likes leaves and grasses, feathers and petals
c. Use some coloured wool to wrap around it in shapes and patterns, tying your ‘magic’ things onto you wand
As we walk through our magic wand will be different every time, every season as the variety of things to choose from will be altered. We will become conscious of different leaves, and shapes, colours and textures and we can categorise in so many different ways, ‘only things as big as your fingernail’ ‘only long things’ ‘only feathers’ ‘only grasses’ ‘ only green things’ and so we can build up a collection of magic wands and our stories of what we can do with them, we can create a book of wonders.

9. Count how many birds you can see or hear as you walk home

There will be changes in the numbers and types of birds flying overhead depending on the season, in the spring look out for the swallows and house martins and other migrant birds arriving, and in the autumn those corresponding birds leaving for warmer climes. Are there more or less birds this week than last, this season than last, what happens in the winter? Where do those birds hide away? Can we make a difference in our own gardens or balconies by putting out some birdseed.

10. Sit down on a wall, some steps or some grass

If you can find some and close your eyes and think of all the wonderful things nature contains to make you feel happy because if we are always thinking about the additional opportunities that we can offer our children then our walks home from school or, indeed on the way there, become increasingly personal and builds stronger familial bonds due to the shared experiences.

Keep your eyes open and allow yourself and your child to think outside the proverbial box…once you start, your imaginations will run riot and as a result the adventures become engaging, fascinating, fabulous and the most important part of your day.
Deep Level learning can occur and long-term memories established. So when your child is asked, “what did you do at school today?” they will describe the wonderful journeys you have explored together.

Get Children Outdoors

Risk and its importance in Forest Schools programmes for Learning and Development

October 16, 2015
Forest School Risks

‘It is argued that taking risks can have positive implications in terms of children’s developmental, social and emotional needs, as well as their overall health. By providing the opportunities for children to manage their own risks in a controlled environment, they will learn vital life skills needed for adulthood, and gain the experience needed to face the unpredictable nature of the world (Gill, 2007)

Excellent quote from Tim Gill; But what does it actually mean for us? You know that I am proponent of the idea that we assume nothing presume nothing.

So what exactly do you, I, we understand by this; what is a controlled environment for example; what does it mean specifically, how controlled, how free; what do we expose our children to; what do we do to protect; what do we allow; what do we mange and what do we allow children through different age cohorts to manage for themselves – specifically?

These questions are fundamental to our understanding and then to the relationship that we have with the environment, with our staff, with our school governors, with our parents and with our children themselves. They are key to how we then go about supporting learning and development through our programmes over the course of their schooling years.

 

Benefits Analysis – Risk Assessment and Play at Archimedes Forest Schools

Play at Forest Schools and exposure to Risk

Play Wales (2008) states that play means ‘…providing opportunities for all children to encounter or create uncertainty, unpredictability, and potential hazards as part of their play. We do not mean putting children in danger of serious harm.’

 

It was Play England in 2007 that can maybe help to answer this question for us

‘Good risks and hazards in play provision are those that engage and challenge children, and support their growth, learning and development. These might include… loose materials that give children the chance to create and destroy constructions using their skill, creativity and imagination.’

So we are in the woods, out in the wild unfettered environment and we are allowing our children to go and explore and investigate and to get into their deep learning states that promotes learning and emotional connections. Excellent, we need to do no more, our session is sorted, we just sit back and observe and monitor what’s happening and all is well that ends well. Our Forest Schools leader role is complete. Our children go to play and to find and to build and to destroy and to jump and pretend and imagine and fantasies, and rough and tumble, jump, climb and role-play and recapitulate and dramatize.

Oh but hang on

‘Bad risks and hazards are those that are difficult or impossible for children to assess for themselves, and that have no obvious benefits. These might include sharp edges or points on equipment, weak structures that may collapse, and items that include traps for heads or fingers.’ (Play England 2007)

But how do we know what a bad risk is for one child and the exact same thing may not be for another?

As a forest Schools Practitioner qualified to Level 3 you are the Safety Officer. That means you are responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to eliminate exposure to significant risks that could cause harm to people, the environment and to things or equipment.

But how will you actually know what is significant, or unsuitable for your group to be exposed to? You will base your decisions on the physical, cognitive and linguistic skills of your children, individually. How do you know what these are? It is through your baseline assessments and through Procedural documentation and Risk Assessment processes. But of course your Benefits Analysis carried out against each identified hazard as well will balance these. These are provided to evidence that as a qualified Level 3 Forest Schools practitioner you thought about assessed and monitored any identified significant risks to your group. But your job is to balance this and not eliminate all risks entirely.

‘Children and young people themselves recognize that ‘you can’t make everything safe’ and that a balance is needed between risks and fun (and the opportunity to be put into situations that may contain risk, but that without this exposure learning could not take place in any dimension – SB (2105). Children recognize that knowing about risks and how to manage them is an essential part of growing up… Through play, children are able to learn about risks and use their own initiative. If children and young people are not allowed to explore and learn through playing and taking part in positive activities, they will not learn how to judge risks and manage them for themselves. These skills learnt through play and other activities can act as a powerful form of prevention in other situations where children and young people are at risk.’ (Play England, 2007)

Dweck (2000) states that

‘Encouraging children to enjoy challenges rather than to shy away from them could also increase their persistence and learning abilities.’ And we are reading more and more to support this view in the papers and in the news. Children are becoming so mollycoddled and protected that certain traits like independence, resilience, creativity and confidence are being eroded away.

Play work Principle 8 says

‘Play workers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All play worker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well being of children.’

Principle 8 allows us as Forest Schools Practitioners make a decision based on the prescribed process of risk-benefit analysis or assessment. TO reiterate what we mean here, if there is an identified hazard, what is the benefit or good that a child or group of children will gain from exposure to that particular hazard in the course of our experiences that we offer as part of the Forest Schools programme? Also does the benefit outweigh the detrimental affects that this hazard could have on the child or group if they were exposed to it whist in our care? Are the hazards affects serious or life threatening and if so how can these be managed in such a way that the child can still be exposed to due to other learning benefits that may be available?

Hazards provide opportunities for learning and development.

‘In a playground, (woodland – SB 2015) bumps, bruises scrapes and even a broken limb are not necessarily warning signs of greater dangers, as they might be considered in a factory or office environment. They are to be expected as part of everyday life for children growing up.

Providers need to decide for themselves what level of risk is appropriate in their provision, because the type and style of provision must be responsive to local circumstances … However, there are benefits from this approach at all levels and for all those involved in play, but above all for the children, who will have happier and more satisfying experiences of childhood with richer opportunities for healthy growth and development into competent and confident adults.’ (Play England, 2007)

 

Considerations when analyzing Benefits and Risks

 

What Are the benefits children, young people, and others will gain as a result of this experience?

Consider Physical, intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional, Social and spiritual.

Think creatively and identify IN DETAIL

What are the options of enhancing those benefits and what are the pros and cons for each one?

•  Increase the opportunities for 
engagement (with good risk).

•  Do nothing.

•  Monitor the situation (including 
supervision).

•  Increase the reach of the benefit.

•  The benefit is not significant enough compared to the risk involved

 

What are the Risks that children young people, and others will be exposed to

What are the options for managing the risk, and what are the pros, cons and costs of each?

•  Decrease the opportunities for 
engagement (with bad risk).

•  Do nothing.

•  Monitor the situation (including 
supervision).

•  Lessen or manage the risk.

•  Remove the risk.

 

 

You participate in the baseline observations of your children. You also complete a baseline observation of your site – the Phase one Survey and you bring the information from these tow processes together in order to make a value judgment as to whether the site is appropriate for the children. And you also make a decision as to whether the children are right for the site,

As newly qualified Forest Schools Practitioners it is likely that we are still taking baby steps in some areas of our practice and one of these may be the over protection of our children. We need to build up our own confidence in allowing children to be willing and able to manage themselves and to identify their own boundaries of behaviours in order to protect and look after themselves.

WE will find that some children have never had the opportunity to be exposed too risks themselves, and so the like us may have to be encouraged to challenge themselves to try something new and potentially risky. They and us together, on our journeys of discovery can build our confidence so that this leads to new skills and ridging and scaffolding from our starting points to making positive and realistic judgments as to our own competencies and capabilities.

Extended Reading

  • Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’ http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play- provision-implementation-guide
  • Play Wales (2008) ‘A Play worker’s Guide to Risk’ http://www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMA TION%2 0SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf
  • Simon Nicholson’s ‘Theory of Loose Parts’
  • Bristol Scrapstore’s PlayPods project – http://www.playpods.co.uk/
  • Play England’s ‘Play, Naturally’ project – 
http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/130593/play-naturally.pdf 
References
  • Dweck (2000) ‘Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality and development’
  • Gill (2007) ‘No Fear: growing up in a risk adverse society’
  • Play England (2008) ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide’ Download from http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources/managing-risk-in-play-provision- implementation-guide
  • Play Wales (2008) ‘A Play worker’s Guide to Risk’ Download from http://www.playwales.org.uk/login/uploaded/documents/INFORMA TION%2 0SHEETS/playworkers%20guide%20to%20risk.pdf

 

Get Children Outdoors

The Changing Seasons can bring such happiness and joy, but also sorrow and sadness

October 8, 2015

It is fun isn’t it how the beginning of autumn begins to change us. Even when we have had a ‘bad summer’ there is something about the air, the chill, the leaves and the colours of the sky. The sun doesn’t rise so high in the sky and it stings our eyes as we walk through the streets or the woods or the park.

 

Autumn for me is the time of change, of new beginnings or eternal hope and freedom. Maybe it was the chance to be in a new class at school, have a new teacher who may help me, leaving school and moving into the world, running away from home and starting a new life. Leaving work and moving into a bus and traveling Europe. The season I started a new Job, had a baby, left my job and came self employed, Autumn has always been a time of excitement, anticipation, a feeling that anything could happen and that I was the master to some extent of my own destiny.

Sea

We are so lucky here in the UK with our 11,000 miles of coastline. I was here today which is why I posted this picture from the North East coast.

Each footstep, each footprint we take unravels a new treasure. It can bring us joy and happiness as we take in through al our senses the beauty of our natural world. It is possible also to invoke a wealth of old memories and feelings that can sprig up into our hearts and minds revealing hidden jewels that may not have surfaced for years!

But the change in the seasons, the places that can inspire us, that can make our hearts sing, can also for some conjure up memories or emotional experiences from a past that just emerge from nowhere and can make us sad or despondent and full of sorrow.

sea3

 

The visual is such a powerful sense, it has the power to build us and strengthen us, but also the power to blindside us and bring us crumbling down.

Im not trying to be negative here at all, all I’m thinking is that for some people a sight may cause pain in equal measures whilst to someone else it may bring intense happiness.

When we are working with adults or children, sometimes we are not aware of the deep emotions locked deep within because we do not know of or understand their memories or experiences from before. We may observe a reaction that seems irrational or out of character or even out of synchronicity with the world around us.

Be still, be gentle, be aware, take note, was there a catalyst, was there a trigger.  As we become more aware of others reactions and behaviours, we are able to open a door of experience that may mean laying down a whole new foundation of responses for that person, simply by being there and being honest and true to ourselves and to them. We value their reactions, value their feelings and value their vision of the world. And this new set of experiences where positive memories can be formed, can in time  bring happiness and peace, that today may causes pain, sadness and sorrow, but for tomorrow, love and compassion and a true sense of self.

Have a great day.

 

Get Children Outdoors

Freedom 100 is a Resounding Success!

October 4, 2015

It has been such an honour to works with 100 people from all walks of life, and from all continents over the past 6 months on the Archimedes Forest Schools Training in Sheffield.

I’d like to say a big Congratulations to you all – you have all been absolutely AMAZING!!

We have had delegates from Moscow, Turkey, Dubai, Ireland, Denmark, the US and of course from all over the UK from Cornwall, to Kent, Scottish Highlands to the mountains and valleys of Wales, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Sunderland, Staffordshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, London, and South Yorkshire and Derbyshire to name a few.

DSCF3373

It was a trial process this year as the Fast Track required Practitioners to attend the first week in March or April this year and then to complete their portfolios, which are intense and hard work, as well as to deliver their Baseline Assessments and their observations and analysis of the process.

DSCF3393

All of this before coming back for a CPD Practical day in the woods to fine tune and hone those practical skills before assessment, and then of course attend the final 4 days of further training progression and skills and ethos assessment.

The quality of portfolios of evidence are outstanding, the professionalism of delivery and practical skills teaching is exemplary.

DSCF3392

So all in all I am really proud of everyone i have met and had the honour to train and work with on their journey. In addition to know that these 100 people are now qualified Forest Schools Practitioners, all going gout into the world to transform the lives of all of those they work with from here on in.

DSCF3385

If each of these Freedom 100 people go onto work with 100 children in the next year, that is 10,000 children touched by the Archimedes Forest Schools Model in the next 12 months.

If each one of those 10,000 children tell one parent then that is 20,000 people whose life is touched. if each of those 20,000 tell a brother or sister that is 30,000 and then the parents tell 2 family friends and a grandparent that is 50,000 people who will know of the wonders of nature and experience it for themselves as a result.

If this is multiplied by 10 years then by 2025 as a direct result, and this is a conservative estimation, then that is half a million children, grown ups and others that will have heard of and experienced either directly or vicariously the amazing nature of Forest Schools and the new connection to the natural world around them.

DSCF3383

Imagine the health benefits, not only physical but also emotional and social, the sense of self and a personal confidence in their own abilities as a result of their experience.

I’d like to thank everyone who has made this possible, my staff team for the organisation and administration, and to all the learners who have participates and to all the children and schools in which the Archimedes Forest Schools Model is now becoming a way of life. Now and in the future.

We will be having another Freedom 100 programme of study next March and April 2016 and so if anyone is interested in participating and becoming a part of this amazing and transformational programme called Archimedes Forest Schools then do contact info@forestschools.com for more details. This offer will not be on the main diary as it isintended to make Forest Schools available to all and is open to those from around the world, from all walks of life.  DSCF3398

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The Archimedes Forest Schools Model

October 4, 2015

I am very pleased to announce the publication in Kindle or iBooks of our new book outlining the Archimedes Model that is applied to Forest Schools Practice and also to Beach Schools and the Social Forestry provision and qualifications developed over the last 15 years in the industry.

The Archimedes Forest Schools Model

TH

It is available through the Amazon Store now if you follow this link

Its the first in a series and hope that you enjoy it

Book Overview

This publication is about the theory, practice and methodology of the Archimedes Forest Schools model of outdoor learning, carried out in a woodland or wild environment. The practice evolved from Scandinavian models found in Denmark, Norway and Sweden from the 1950’s through the 1990s as Forest School in UK and now it has assumed a respectable and meaningful place within the wide variety of delivery methodologies for the overall development of children and as a significant and intentional process for improving learning in children of all ages as well as adults in and for the environment and forest education universally.

Forest schools as an educational concept was introduced into the UK from its origins in Scandinavia in 1994. Since those humble beginnings, the Forest Schools concept has blossomed throughout the UK and as I write there are at least 300 training organisations that train practitioners in Forest Schools education with over 11,500 practitioners who are delivering Forest Schools programmes and sessions to a range of audiences.

There are many ways to use the Forest Schools concept in a variety of settings, with a range of audiences delivering an equally diverse set of outcomes. The wide variety of Forest Schools experiences being offered reflects this opportunity for different applications. The Archimedes Forest Schools model is unique in its approach and delivers on its goal “To transform the lives of children on every continent around the world”

Archimedes from the outset has recognised the ultimate potential of this educational concept is that it can be highly effective in creating positive transformational behavioural changes in the participants who experience it. The Archimedes model is all about transformation of children’s lives over time by engaging with the natural and wild spaces around them.

 

Get Children Outdoors

You up to become the Forest Schools Kindergarten Deputy Manger in Sheffield UK?

June 3, 2015


Forest Schools Kindergarten in Sheffield is no ordinary nursery

cropped-7550_254248858069574_675983131_n.jpgOpen for only 6 months we are developing and growing at an extraordinary rate and are looking to expand more to enable children to live and learn outdoors and to offer parents a supportive and safe setting for their children.

Our present staff and managers are passionate about children’s growth and development through Forest Schools Education and their own love of the outdoors. It is this innate understanding that they pass onto others and work to the strengths of the babies and children they work with every day.

Baby HeadIf you are interested in letting us know how your skills and passions can compliment the present staff team and most importantly the children’s development and become the baby room team leader, then we would love to hear your story.

family 1993Based in the North of Sheffield we are the only Forest Schools kindergarten in the region with our own setting, Ofsted registered and working in partnership with the local council in providing access to woodlands and parks.

Glen Howe Woods was the setting for the Ragged School in 1890 for Sheffield Slum children, and now 130 years later we are proud to be educating and playing back in those wonderful woodlands for the health and wellbeing of our children and families

I Love OctoberBe wonderful, be part of our team and the educational change of children in South Yorkshire

Dep Manager job des[1]

Get Children Outdoors

March 26, 2015

The Archimedes Forest Schools Model is based on the elements to develop 

Respect of Self, Respect for others and Respect for the Environment

Life is an adventure, exploration, discovery and challenge brings out the best in all of us!

Life is an adventure, exploration, discovery and challenge brings out the best in all of us!

 

  • Love and Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Excellence and Integrity
  • Inclusion and Diversity

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Outcomes

 

Holistic Development

  • Increased self awareness, self regulation, self motivation, empathy and social skills including self-confidence and self-worth, resilience and respectfulness
  • Rooted compassion towards self, others and the environment

Capable Learner

  • Development of the capacity to know how to learn, the resources to learn effectively, the ability to set goals, and be motivated to achieve them.
  • Development of the desire to be excellent, to strive for the potential of learning and self fulfilment and happiness

Personal Sustainability

  • Know self and how to function successfully in the family, educational world, community,   society and the world
  • The development of  a positive environmental identity & responsibility.
  • Understand the 5 essential elements of wellbeing:-

                        Connect | Be Active | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Give

 

 

Get Children Outdoors

Is Critical Thinking Important for the Forest Schools Practitioner Trainee?

March 18, 2015

When working on the development of children we do have a lifelong learning mission; And that is to enable children to develop strategies that will facilitate their own movement to independent thought and processing of information
Bloom is a star in my eyes and encapsulates the progress and development theory so beautifully – and we get pictures too!

CriticalThinkingBlooms-TaxonomyWhen we develop reflection strategies with children we are looking to develop their ability to think about information, knowledge, skill, experience and activity that can be stored, built upon and used as a platform for further growth, cerebral, physical, emotional, social creative and spiritual.

For the level 3 practitioner on training there is an opportunity to experience many things for the first time, this could be practical elements, or theoretical elements that go to make up the essence of excellence of learning for your children. However, more relevant to some extent at this point is how you as an individual learner will move from this knowledge through the stages of Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and the Evaluation. On training therefore you are coming and experiencing so many things, but without the comprehension of the process, the why we do the things we do, there will be a limited application to your lives and how you develop our own practice. As this comprehension and deep rooting of the process takes place, it it then that you begin to apply it to your teaching, and the opportunities you offer to children; the Forest Schools Baseline Assessment 6 weeks, that you deliver. Now here comes the wonderful part, as you deliver you begin to analyse it – what worked, when, why, how, was is random, or was a pattern emerging in the way I did things and the way children respond. It is this that then takes you back to the beginning of the pyramid.

Critical Thinking Allows US to See a World From a Whole New Perspective
Once you have done the same things for a while and analysed those patterns and processes it is then that the process of synthesis takes place – you redesign from a strategic level and re- intertwine things, the interrelationships alter and a whole new pattern for your children. This is when the evaluation and creativity comes into play, because you can now make informed judgements and you can make balanced decisions by comparing your ideas and processes and concepts.
When you are filling in your portfolios we are looking for this evaluation, that comes from longevity of practice of immersion into the concepts, the exploration of the ideas and then designing flexible programmes that meet the needs of the children so that they can follow the same developmental route that you have just taken.
Forest Schools is a means to an end, it is to facilitate capable learners and all for independent and personal sustainability. You may be the only key to that journey. Our Forest Schools learning journey allows us to know in the present, what it is we want to offer as a gift to our children who walk with us in the woods!

Thinking Cap

 

Photos taken from : http://www.b2ttraining.com/2015/02/06/critical-thinking-whats-it-good-for-part-2/ and its a good read too