Forest school pilot is tree-mendous success

Forest School Pilot Project at Ferney Lee Primary School, Todmorden.'Ethan Kenyon, eight, and Janey Aitchison, eight, with the hammock.
Forest School Pilot Project at Ferney Lee Primary School, Todmorden.'Ethan Kenyon, eight, and Janey Aitchison, eight, with the hammock.

CHILDREN have been getting out of the classroom for a different type of learning experience.

Youngsters at Ferney Lee School, Todmorden, have been making rope swings, building dens and climbing trees during a six-week forest school pilot project in woodland adjacent to its grounds.

The project, run by the Tinderwood Trust, has also seen pupils baking breadsticks using an open fire, setting up hammocks between trees and creating floral arrangements after picking wild flowers.

Headteacher Helen Hannah, who got involved with some of the activities, is very pleased with how the children have embraced the new learning experience.

“They have absolutely loved it,” she said.

“It’s great to see how their confidence has improved.

“It’s about so many different things including teamwork and minimising risk.

“They almost set their own agenda.

“It’s saying to the kids ‘Would that be safe to do’ and if not, why not?

“I don’t have any qualms that they are not safe because they have been so well trained.”

Before the end of term, Mrs Hannah invited school governors to come and see what a forest school is like.

“The plan is now to develop it here so that we run a forest school on a full time basis,” she said.

“We are going to carry on with another pilot project with another group of children, looking to train up staff to get the qualifications so we could be able to offer the forest school experience to other schools in Todmorden and beyond.”

Emily Jones, forest school leader from the Tinderwood Trust, said it is great to see the children get so involved in their learning.

“They have had a really fantastic time,” she said.

“The difference in their character in just the short term is amazing.

“They have had a fantastic project and it shows Ferney Lee’s desire to change the way that they develop education and they are fully committed to get better outcomes for the kids.”

Pupil Marley Perran, eight, who previously attended a forest school in Manchester, said he particulaly enjoys circle time at the beginning of the sessions and woodcraft activities.

He said: “I like it because we are outside. I prefer it to normal school.”