Burgers and beasties at Bedford Primary School

With the summer holidays around the corner, pupils, parents and teachers from Bedford Primary School in Bootle, Merseyside came together with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust to celebrate the end of term in forest school style.

Forest school is a child-led, play-based ethos that offers children regular opportunities to succeed, improve self-esteem and develop as a person, through hands-on learning in the woods. Children are able to play freely, explore their own interests, and learn at their own pace in a safe and supportive natural environment.

Since January, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s forest school project has been working with Bedford Primary, delivering free weekly forest school sessions and training school staff as forest school leaders, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Children and adults alike played games, searched for insects and enjoyed a campfire cookout within the school’s beautiful outdoor learning space. Many of the parents commented that their children often talk excitedly about forest school at home, so it was great to experience it for themselves. One father was stunned to see his son playing games and chatting with the other children, saying, “He (my son) suffers from Asperger's and he wasn't doing well in class and was not talking or making friends. Once he attended forest school things started to change, you can see him now running around with other children and wanting to join in with activities.”

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Another parent commented, “When she (my daughter) said she wanted me to come today I was surprised - but sharing the fun she is having here has been really special.”

These pupils have been lucky enough to attend forest school since the start of the year, and staff from the Trust and school have seen a noticeable difference in the children’s development in that time, especially in the way that they interact with each other.

Forest School Officer Molly Toal says, “When the children started forest school in January, there were situations that a lot of the children found quite difficult to be in, such as waiting to take turns using tools, sharing toys in the mud kitchen, or playing games together. They would struggle with team-work, understanding others, solving problems and being patient – all skills that are useful in wider life. Several months later and not only do the children instigate their own group games, they also resolve any issues amongst themselves and share equipment. They congratulate each other when someone succeeds at a task and work together in really creative and imaginative ways, like building obstacle courses and making up puppet shows.”

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Laura Doherty, a teacher at Bedford Primary adds, “The children who have taken part in sessions range from 6 to 11 years old and they have all grown in confidence and developed their teamwork and leadership skills. It has been wonderful to spend time outdoors together and learn more about nature and the plants and animals that live right outside our classroom. The sessions are always the highlight of our week.

“As a teacher, it has been lovely to spend time with children in an environment outside the classroom and nurture such a range of different talents and qualities with our young people.

“Bedford Primary School are now Forest School fanatics.”

To find out more about the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s forest school project, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, visit www.lancswt.org.uk/forest-school.

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