“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers all learners the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland” (Forest School Assoc.)
The aim of this project is to address social exclusion and educational inclusion by bringing back into use a neglected copse at the rear of Ealing Alternative Provision School. Engaging pupils, residents and school communities within Ealing in a sustainable Forest School site. After school, weekend and holiday provision offer are integral to this project. Working to preserve the mature trees will be undertaken as these are the heart of this Forest School. To develop a holistic learning environment by active learning: exploring, team building, problem solving, communication skills, self-identity, resourcefulness, resilience, their place in their natural local and global environment. To include partnership working with other voluntary and community organisations.
What we'll deliver:
- Plan and design the site with school community.
- Liase with Ealing Park Rangers to undertake tree survey and health and safety audit.
- On advice engage tree surgeon to carry out tree works.
- Engage volunteers through working parties to clear site of fly tipping .
- Seek advice from the London Wildlife Trust re: coexisting with resident foxes.
- Source eco friendly toilet facilities, storage, changing area and shelter.
- Through regular community working parties clear and maintain the undergrowth.
- Create areas with accessible path ways for inclusive use of space.
- Create areas to facilitate Forest School learning.
- Undertake training for volunteers and support staff
Why it's a great idea:
Research and personal experience shows that generations of our children are growing up without hands on real and meaningful experiences of their natural environment. The pressures of living in an urban environment further increases the barriers to accessing these experiences. Computer generated images are often used by educators to explore these areas of the curriculum. Parents often state a perception of `danger` as a barrier to allowing their children to explore their natural areas . This neglected copse of mainly oaks provides a unique opportunity for the school communities to develop and foster a sense of ownership and well being as they become the custodians of this urban oasis. Overseeing much needed woodland management of this site that will sustain the existing and new habitats for wildlife whose environment are under threat in this urban space. This Forest School site will be a valuable training resource for teachers and support staff training.
Steps to get it done:
- Initial health and saftey treework and the Clearance of the site using a combination of professionals and volunteers
- Laying paths for ease of access
- Creation of the Forest School activity areas as drawn up by pupils at EAP
- Further sessions across all key stages of EAP pupils
- Community groups and other schools booking sessions to use the facilities
- EAP Forest School site fully functioning through the week with all AM and PM slots being fully booked
This project has links with other community organisations. For example The Youth Justice Service is interested in using this project as a placement site for youths to undertake their period of `community service`. We are developing partnership work with other interested groups and community organisations that are involved in complimentary schemes that support our aims.