New forest schools aims to open youngsters’ minds to nature
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A school has opened a woodland learning area it hopes will make its pupils more resourceful and healthy.
On May 2 various organisations and individuals, along with staff, pupils, parents and governors, gathered to celebrate the opening of Hingham School's new forest school and woodland area.
The project to make outdoor learning an integral part of the curriculum has been in development for 18 months.
Sabina Khanam, a year-three teacher and forest school leader from Costessey, joined the school in 2016 and has been in charge of organising the project.
She said: 'Now there's a section of our field that's separated off properly for outdoor learning.
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'Every child has a pair of outdoor trousers and wellies, so we can go outside whenever we like.
'From a mental health point of view we want to get them outdoors and promote a healthy lifestyle.
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'We want to promote children learning in different ways. They have learnt how to use tools and build shelters and since we have had the woodland sectioned off, we've had lots of wildlife. We also learn fire building and safety and toast marshmallows.'
Hingham Primary School had to seek benefactors to fund the project because, as a rural state school, it has been subject to funding cuts.
However there was no shortage of donations - Town Close Estate Charity awarded Hingham School a £10,000 grant for an outdoor classroom and a £1,300 grant from The Ernest Cook Trust went towards tools and equipment.
Housebuilder Abel Homes donated and built a 100m fence around the new woodland area, while lecturers and students from the arboriculture department of Easton and Otley College planted trees and a hedgerow and Norfolk Wildlife Trust advised the school on developing the woodland area.
Annabel Hill, senior officer at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, officially opened the area.
Miss Khanam said: 'The children all loved it, and for the children who don't necessarily learn well in the classroom this is especially good.
'Forest school has been happening in the country for quite a while but it's very grassroots. It's a holistic approach that complements the curriculum.
'Some parents have reminisced that their own school days were a lot more outdoors. We have had really positive feedback.'