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Loretto’s Forest School status
22nd September 2015

Loretto Junior School has secured ‘Forest School status’ and is one of only a small number of Forest Schools in Scotland.

To be a Forest School is to change the way pupils connect to nature, adopting an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning.  Children need time to thoroughly explore their thoughts, feelings and relationships.

This time and reflective practice develops pupils’ understanding of the world, the environment and everything within it through the use of emotions, imagination and senses.

The philosophy of Loretto’s  Forest School is to encourage and inspire our pupils through positive outdoor experiences. By participating in engaging, motivating and achievable tasks and activities in a woodland environment, every pupil has an opportunity to develop intrinsic motivation, sound emotional and social skills.

Loretto pupils have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.

Loretto’s programmes run throughout the School week, going to the woods and pupils use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self-motivated.

 

Loretto Forest School aims to develop:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Empathy
  • Good social communication skills
  • Independence
  • A positive mental attitude, self-esteem and confidence

What activities happen at Loretto’s forest school?

Loretto’s Forest School routine includes preparing to go out by dressing in outdoor clothes, sharing stories, talking about the weather and the season.  Forest School can run all year round and in all weathers (except high winds which may make the woods dangerous because of falling branches and trees). 

Regular activities include:

 

·         Exploring and using the woodland

·         Scavenger hunts and adventures

·         Physical movement activities with possible tree climbing

·         Den and shelter building

·         Learning knots and lashings to help with construction activities or pulling/moving objects

·         Woodland craft activities using natural materials

·         Art and sculpture

·         Cooking food on an open fire

·         Studying wildlife

·         Using sticks and collecting wood

·         Rope swings

·         Sensory activities

·         Various team and group games

·         Problem solving activities

 

Activities are built upon progressively so that understanding and skills develop through practice. Our Forest School leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training, therefore ensuring Loretto’s Forest School is a high-quality learning experience. The earlier sessions will concentrate on safety, establishing boundaries and routines. As pupils develop in confidence and familiarity with the environment the sessions focus on the development and consolidation of skills and understanding.

The Loretto Forest School site is located in the wooded area behind one of our boarding houses on the Senior School campus.

The benefits of Loretto’s Forest School are so far reaching yet also difficult to measure.

●      Loretto’s Forest School supports the holistic development of the child in Mind, body and spirit.

●      Health and fitness – being active in an outdoor natural environment.

●      Increased emotional wellbeing.

●      Social development – communicating and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.

●      Skills development – developing fine and gross motor skills and coordination for real purposes.

●      Gaining knowledge and understanding – multi sensory and real-life learning.

●      Individualised learning – careful observation allows our teachers to tailor support to the pupils’ own interests and stage of development.

●      Loretto’s Forest School supports many areas of the Curriculum for Excellence, and this experience will consolidate concepts that children are developing at school.

Jonathan Hewat, Director of Communications at Loretto School said, “Set in 85 acres of leafy campus, Loretto is perfectly situated to pioneer one of the most important educational developments in the world today. “

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