Situated within Kingsley’s 14-acre playing fields, the site is a haven for our younger pupils, with plenty of mature trees to climb, build dens beneath and swing from; a designated space for laying and lighting fires; covered outdoor seating; areas of wild meadow and lots of equipment to explore and inspire. And the site is continually evolving, with particular thanks to our brilliant Forest School Lead, Mrs Norris, and the generous donations of plants from our parent and pupil community.
‘Engaging in an activity outdoors – or simply being outdoors, breathing in the air and taking the time to notice what is around us – can work wonders for our psychological and spiritual wellbeing’, says Mrs Norris.
At Kingsley we are incredibly fortunate to be able to provide children with longer and more regular sessions at Forest School than other schools in the area. Pupils in Early Years and Reception attend Forest School every Friday, while those in Years 1 to 4 benefit from weekly sessions, spending a whole afternoon each week outside.
Forest School sessions are relaxed and child-led, but also safe and highly productive. Pupils are given access to resources, as well as the space and freedom to think creatively, often choosing to repeat ideas but adapting and extending them from one week to the next. We encourage our pupils to work collaboratively and, by problem solving and exploring together, they develop, evaluate, and often change their decisions. Through supporting one another in a team, pupils begin to recognise that learning together promotes trust and builds relationships (which greatly benefits them in the classroom too!)
Regular opportunities to work with children from other year groups adds another dimension to learning. Pupils of different ages tend to look at the world differently, offering alternative viewpoints that others may not have considered. And it works both ways! Having opportunities such as these to share their knowledge and understanding of the world with others is truly empowering.
In our ever-changing world, it is so special to see the deep bonds and genuine love of nature that our children develop, acquiring an impressive knowledge of different trees, plants, flowers, and insects. This appreciation of and connection to the natural world encourages reflection and positive thinking and helps pupils to find purpose and meaning in life.
Our pupils have described Forest School as ‘fun’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘adventurous’. One pupil said they felt ‘free’, and their classmates nodded in agreement. Each year it is a privilege to see children of all ages grow in independence, creativity, and stamina, overcoming challenges and supporting their peers. This is a key facet that a Kingsley education enables, and our Forest School is a perfect example of this is in action. While younger pupils develop their fine and gross motor skills, balance, agility and coordination, older pupils become less self-conscious and more willing to step outside of their comfort zones. All skills that will benefit them as they progress through the school and go on to lead happy and fulfilled adult lives.