Wild Excitement – Make-over day at Westfield School
Pupils at Westfield Special School await a ‘make-over’ day, set to transform an underused outside area into a large and exciting Forest School site.
Westfield School will soon offer its pupils the opportunity to experience regular Forest School sessions. With the help of Nicholsons Nurseries and the Berkeley Reafforestation Trust, the school is set to create its own purpose-built ‘wild’ area.
On Friday 3rd March, a time-lapse camera will be installed on the roof of the school. The entire Nicholsons staff will then spend the day digging, planting, installing and constructing. Pupils are excited that they will join in with the work and see the site take shape in just one day.
The 100m/30m site will include a digging area, a mud kitchen, mounds, a fire-pit, a wood-store, a bog garden, a balance area with sawn tree trunks and boulders, a den area, a rope-swing area, new orchards of apple, pear, plum and cherry, willow tunnels, a beech avenue, bark and mown paths, wildlife areas, animal habitats and plants to attract insects and butterflies.
Forest School England defines Forest School as ‘an inspirational process that offers learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.’
Mr Allen, headteacher, says, ‘The Forest School programme will be messy, exciting and fun. It will greatly enhance the progress of our pupils in terms of their communication, interaction, social skills and much more.’
Regular activities that will be enjoyed by pupils include den/shelter building, digging, rope-swings, physical challenges, mud-sliding, balancing, nature ID/sketching, natural artwork, wildlife protection, fire-lighting and role-play.
Pupils at Westfield School experience difficulties arising from one or more of the following needs: communication and interaction or social, emotional and mental health. Forest School will help them to discover new talents and abilities, learn new skills, take supported risks, solve problems, experience the benefits of team-work, resolve issues and value each other’s contributions.
Being out in all seasons and all weathers will teach the pupils about the cycle of nature and environmental issues. They will develop a sense of responsibility by playing a role in maintaining the Forest School site and protecting nature.
Jamie, a pupil at the school, said, ‘I’m really excited about the new site. I like nature a lot. When I’m older, I’d like to be someone who works with nature. This will be my training! I’m looking forward to making camps, playing about in mud, having fires, making habitats/mini-forests for creatures and sitting by the bog garden waiting for animals to come. I think our site is going to be the best Forest School site in the world!’
The Berkeley Reafforestation Trust has donated £10,000 towards the project and Nicholsons Nurseries will provide all the labour free of charge.
Ms McCombe, Forest School Leader at Westfield, says, ‘We feel totally overwhelmed by the generous support offered. This programme and the purpose-built site will have a huge impact on our pupils.’