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Forest School

With extensive grounds including fields and woodland, Unsted Park is well-positioned to offer a forest school. Going for walks and exploring, while surrounded by nature is incredibly enriching for our students, teaching independence, resilience and communication skills.

Our forest school encourages students to work together, develop their practical skills and build their confidence by trying new activities outdoors. It is approximately a quarter of a mile walk up and down the hill to the forest school site, providing opportunities for plenty of fresh air, exercise and calming time.

Forest school activities

The range of activities include heavy work such as breaking branches, sawing and using the axe and wood splitter, which supports self-regulation. We encourage students to use their fine motor skills to safely build fires with staff support, lighting these with a flint and steel and laying on the wood, or by safely using a knife, which improves dexterity skills and co-ordination.

Staff encourage young people to learn through their mistakes and take appropriate risks in a safe and supported space. A number of our students have sensory issues, such as difficulties touching unfamiliar objects, cooking different foods outside or getting dirty. Forest school works effectively in providing opportunities for young people to challenge themselves with these and to move forward with confidence. Our students also have to learn patience - cooking things on the fire takes time and effort, if they want to eat or have a hot drink.

Forest school broadens horizons, promotes calm and builds a range of useful life skills. Our students achieve the six forest school aims over the course of the academic year, which are:

  • Competent to explore and discover
  • Entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
  • Entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
  • Entitled to experience regular success
  • Entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
  • Entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
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