Discovering Forest School

This week we want to share with you a blog written by The Outdoors Group. You may be aware that we partnered with The Outdoors Group for our Queen Bee Project to celebrate The Queen’s Jubilee this year. Last week, we shared a little about our visit to their Escot Forest School site (check out last weeks blog post here), so this week we are pleased to give them a platform to share a little more about what they do!

Discovering Forest School (Written by Hannah Durdin from The Outdoors Group)

A few years ago, if you mentioned outdoor education or Forest School, chances are you may have encountered a few confused faces. These days, with more and more schools embracing the benefits that come with taking their students outside and Forest School sites popping up all over the country, it’s more well known. 

Here at The Outdoors Group, we’ve been delighted to see this growth as more and more children and young people are discovering Forest School and all it has to offer. For our part, we have been running Forest School sessions and outdoor education opportunities for over a decade now and from just one site on a small woodland site in Exeter in 2011, we have now grown to having over a dozen sites in Devon and Somerset. We now run Forest School sessions at five sites around Devon, offer a transitional learning programme for children struggling in their main educational setting to do 1:1 sessions in the woods with us, run a full time special school (completely outdoors) for autistic children and those with additional educational needs, deliver a variety of training to adults and offer outdoor leisure experiences for grown-ups! 

But back to Forest School. For those of you a little hazy on the details, we thought we’d explain our take on what it is and how we do it. Behind everything we do is a love of the outdoors and a deep desire to instil that love into the young people we work with. We believe that in order to want to protect the environment, you need to experience it first hand to gain respect and an appreciation of the natural world that sustains us. This has always driven our work and purpose as a company. So, for us, Forest School meant giving as many children and young people as possible the opportunity to get outside in the woods to discover, explore, play and as a result, grow as people.  

Escot Forest School

No two sessions look the same. Our sessions are child-led which means that in a world where children are over-scheduled and over-structured, they are given the rare opportunity to decide how they spend their time. Our leaders have activities on offer but ultimately, the children attending choose what they do. They may choose to engage their senses through muddy play or exploring waterways, they may want to climb and swing, they may want to build dens, build fires, do a spot of whittling, they may just want to hang out with their friends and chat. By giving them the freedom and by trusting them, they are able to develop important skills such as self-confidence, teamwork, communication, cooperation, problem solving and self-esteem. 

It’s amazing to see where their curiosity leads them and that’s why we were so delighted to receive the very kind gift of six beautiful, bespoke bug boxes from The Sign Maker as part of their Queen Bee Project for the Queen’s Jubilee. Having the right tools and equipment available to our young people helps further their natural explorations and we know that they are going to love homing the boxes and then seeing what bugs and beasties choose to take up residence in them! So, a huge thank you again to the lovely team for our boxes, they are very much appreciated!

Further Information

Thank you to Hanah for such a fantastic piece for our site. We hope you all enjoyed this unique post. If you would like more information on what we do here at The Sign Maker for the environment click here.

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