Cumbria Academy for Autism Forest School
Forest School is a learning process, which is centred on the child and inspires them to play, explore and take risks in a natural environment. It is a long-term process, which builds confidence, develops resilience, encourages independence and fosters creativity. Forest schools is a holistic process, which is not solely concerned with gathering knowledge. It helps pupils to develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. Forest schools takes place in a woodland or natural setting and permits pupils to develop a deeper connection with the world and everything within it. The woodland environment provides learners with an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds, tastes and visual stimuli that promotes engagement. Forest school also encourages learners to take appropriate risks, enabling problem solving, developing resilience and encouraging personal growth and development.
Within the Forest Schools sessions, pupils will be provided with the opportunity to initiate and drive their own learning. They will be encouraged to explore, take risks, experience success and develop positive relationships with themselves, others and their environment. It is a process which heightens the natural curiosity in children and which will hopefully foster a healthy connection to the natural world, which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Whilst we plan to develop our own grounds to accommodate Forest School at the Cumbria Academy for Autism, it is currently not an option and so it is fortunate that we have access to an area of woodland at Maryport Church of England Primary School (Camp Road, Maryport, CA15 6JN).
Our younger pupils will have a half term block (6-8 weeks) of Forest School sessions within the academic year. Our older pupils will have designated afternoons throughout the year in life skills classes.
Activities are very practical and usually child led, with one structured adult inspired activity at the core of the session, which may include building shelters and dens, making a fire pit, creating artwork and jewellery and using tools.
At our Forest School pupils will be encouraged to:
⦁ Problem solve
⦁ Develop social skills
⦁ Discover how they learn best
⦁ Learn how to manage failures
⦁ Develop practical skills and use tools to create and build
⦁ Experience achievement and success
⦁ Develop their language and communication skills
⦁ Learn how to make decisions and evaluate risk
⦁ Explore connections between themselves and the natural environment
⦁ Understand the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle
⦁ Become more motivated and inspired
⦁ Be able to reflect and evaluate