We provide wellies and outdoor clothing for every child to access this environment whatever the weather. Sustainability is also an aspect of our provision. A long term vision for creating a woodland on site for our FOREST SCHOOL began in 2012 when we were able to fence off a piece of playing field adjacent to our land, and begin planting indigenous British trees to add to the 5 mature limes bordering this area.
Since then we have subsequently put in raised beds and recycled logs and woodchips donated by Derbyshire County Council and Futures Homescapes to create pathways and log circles. Our wonderful PLASTIC BOTTLE RECYCLED GREENHOUSE has created a place for children to nurture seedlings. Staging for plants has been created from recycled pallets. We have further developed the greenhouse by adding guttering and 2 rainwater butts to ensure that water is available, and children see the need to conserve water.
In another area of the grounds we have put 3 compost bins, to which children add the snacktime peelings from fruit. When the compost is ready, the children help to put it into the raised tyres on the allotment, where there is an annual cycle of vegetables planted and harvested and on baking day every Thursday, children often use produce grown, then eat the products for snack during the session. We are a ‘HEALTHY SCHOOL’ and ensuring that children understand where food comes from is important to us. We have also created an orchard with apples, pears, damsons, plums and cherries, which again the children enjoy picking, then using for baking. Our children are taught respect for the environment and the cycle of life through real engagement with nature, which also resonates with our UNICEF RIGHTS RESPECTING SCHOOL agenda.
We have a SOLARDOME which is full of natural resources for the children to experience, a large OUTDOOR SANDPIT with lots of natural stones and shells to inspire children to engage imaginatively, and MUD KITCHENS created from recycled pallets and old sinks, with an assortment of recycled pans and utensils.
Our ATELIER box houses lots of large recycled objects for children to be inspired and creative with, and there is another CONSTRUCTION AREA with crates, bricks etc. to build with. Another area has been developed for our INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL work, with flags of different countries, tables and seating areas to facilitate discussion and follow teacher directed activities linked to this aspect of our provision.
We have also built BUG HOTELS in order to attract wildlife and are adding bulbs and plants to attract bees and other creatures to live in the area. All the staff were inspired by a workshop given by a bee-keeper at the ‘Gardeners World’ as part of our annual INSET training incorporating staff well-being and the schools’ sustainability agenda. Staff enthusiasm is vital to drive our school forward and this energy is infectious to the children. We have a large number of visitors to our school – many attracted by the outdoor provision, who are inspired to develop their school’s outdoor learning.
We provide courses for teachers using our school as a model of good practice and work with ‘COSY’ a Derby company who are passionate about developing resources to inspire learning and use our ideas and site to develop products for schools. Their catalogue shows many of the products photographed in our school grounds.
All our staff are inspired by the special environment that we have created, 3 are Level 3 FOREST SCHOOL LEADERS and 2 are level 2. The passion of every single member of staff to make our school the very best it can be impacts positively on the entitlement of all our children to have the very best start in their unique school journey.