Environment in association with the Mirror

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Ashdon Forest School has been running for five years, running inspirational outdoors preschool sessions, an outdoors toddler group, school sessions and family times in the woods. We offer activities to a range of families in the North Essex countryside.

We were one of the first entirely outdoors preschools in the UK. The Forest School ethos has developed from a Scandinavian approach. It puts children and their needs at the centre of all that goes on. It is about children and young people building self esteem, communication skills, teamwork, independence and resilience through exploring and experiencing the natural world, having loads of fun in the process.

The outdoors is the best place for young children to be and we are privileged to give these opportunities to children and their families in our rich, stimulating woodland environment. Children are natural explorers and little scientists. Being in the woods with caring, attentive adults as their guides gives them a deeper connection with nature, to understand the natural world around them with all of their senses and develops long term, positive attitudes to learning. Forest School is a mixture of learning new skills e.g. knot tying, fire lighting, tool use, tree climbing and exploring whilst playing in the outdoors. Our practitioners work together as a team, using their knowledge of the woods and the resources at their disposal to create learning experiences to develop imagination, creativity and skills

The ethos of Forest School encourages practical, hands-on experiences. Child led play is valued and observing the children is key. Their motivations and interests give the spark to provide experiences and activities that scaffold their learning. This helps to further their curiosity, inspire them to imagine, wonder and understand. It fosters a love and respect for the natural world whilst nurturing the children’s self confidence. Forest School runs all year round and in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous). They will experience the changes of the seasons and learn about nature first hand, as well as how to look after themselves and each other.

We would like to enhance our provision with additional equipment and resources, particularly a wagon / trolley to move tools and resources across our site and and tablet computer. This would be used to run an app that keeps parents in touch with their child’s learning and achievements and identification applications like iSpot, treeID, Chirpomatic and Warblr to help the children learn more about plants and animals.

A substantial body of evidence shows that learning outdoors in natural environments, in a variety of contexts from formal to informal, is associated with a diverse range of positive outcomes for learners of all ages – including personal, social, educational, developmental and health outcomes. This grant could help us enhance this provision through the additional resources we would purchase.

Ashdon Forest School

Location: Ashdon

I am proud of this project for all the love, hard work and dedication that has been poured into it by staff, committee members and families to provide something amazing for the children that nurtures them on every level. In our modern world children need opportunities to connect with the outdoors.
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