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Woodland Schools

Woodland Schools Statement of Intent ... 

The ethos of Woodland Schools is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (in particular, a woodland environment); the right to experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction, building a resilience to enable creative engagement with their peers and their potential. 

Woodland Schools is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Children who struggle learning indoors are often able to develop their confidence and skills. Woodland School is based on the process of learning - more on the 'how' than the 'what'. Woodland School practice embraces collaborative, unexpected and ultimately unlimited learning.  

Children are ideally encouraged to direct their own learning - this is often inspired by the Woodland School leader introducing an activity that can be creatively interpreted by the pupils. The most important thing is to encourage the natural curiosity present in children and to enable them to open their eyes and experience the wonders of the world around them. 

The woodland environment is central in supporting this approach to learning: the changing of the seasons, the contemplation of an ancient tree, the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes and a range of visual stimuli all contribute to the Woodland School learning experience. 

Woodland Schools encourages children to: 

*Develop personal and social skills 

*Work through practical problems and challenges 

*Use tools to create, build or manage 

*Discover how they learn best 

*Pursue knowledge that interests them 

*Learn how to manage failures 

*Build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk 

*Develop practical skills 

*Understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle 

*Explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth 

*Regularly experience achievement and success 

*Reflect on learning and experiences 

*Develop their language and communication skills 

*Improve physical motor skills 

*Become more motivated 

*Improve their concentration skills 


Activities for Woodland Schools are diverse and numerous, we are trying to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and to attempt new ideas. 

Some activities might include: 

Shelter building 

Fire lighting and cooking on an open fire 

Using a Kelly Kettle 

Tool use 

Studying wildlife 

Playing team and group games 

Sensory activities 

Rope and string work, tying useful knots 

Art and sculpture work 

Woodland and traditional craft 

Woodland management 

Developing stories and drama, and meeting imaginary characters 

Fire lighting/cooking 


No person will be permitted to go to Woodland Schools without appropriate clothing that will protect them from extremes of heat or cold, keep them covered to reduce the likelihood of cuts and scrapes, that fits appropriately for comfort, and that meets any religious requirements. 

Children are encouraged to think about the usefulness of their clothing for outdoor activities, and to be aware they are likely to take some of our mud home with them after a session. In the woodland, it can often be cooler than expected under the shade of the trees. 

We work on the principle that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Before each session the Woodland School leader must carry out a risk assessment of the woodland site. The Woodland School leader must identify and remove/reduce the risks that are found during the risk assessment. This will be done in accordance with the risk assessment. 

Intended Impact 

To ensure high standards of teaching and learning in the woodland classroom, we implement a curriculum that is flexible throughout the whole school and links to their learning in other subjects. At Hethersett Primary School, we ensure that Woodland School sessions have importance within the timetable. 

Woodland School lessons should make learning more relevant to their lives in the community and wider world. We encourage children to be responsible for and respect the local community and environment giving them a sense of belonging and ownership of the place in which they live. We explore the uses of the local area, integrating subjects so that meaningful activities can be planned and delivered effectively and regularly.