Sowing the seeds of success! First Forest School pupils re-unite to mark 12 years of outdoor learning at Houghton Hall
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Making fires and cooking food down in the woods may have seemed a novel approach to learning at the time.
But 12 years on some of the first Forest School pupils have returned to the Norfolk country estate that helped to sow the seeds of their success.
Houghton Hall owner Lord Cholmondeley helped pilot the new approach to outdoor learning back in 2005 welcoming a group of pupils from nearby Litcham School. Kate Boardman was amongst those sharing happy memories of spending schooldays with friends at Houghton. Reepham College student Kate, 17, said: 'Forest Schools were an unforgettable and invaluable experience. The weeks of trips to Houghton Hall always fuelled me with excitement and allowed me to explore attributes that I never realized I had. Forest School vastly improved my communication skills and deepened my friendships with classmates with whom I still enjoy spending time. The hours within the woods allowed me to excel physically and discover my true love of sport and the outdoors.'
The group of teenagers were invited along to join Lord Cholmondeley at the special celebration event on Sunday, where they gathered by a fire to toast marshmallows.
Oli Musgrave, 17, who is now studying A-levels at Reepham College said:
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'Although I was bright at primary school, I guess I was lively and got distracted easily. However, Forest School engaged me in such a different way. I loved the practical side of making fires and cooking food in order to survive in the outdoors. It gave me a respect for those teaching me in school and made me focus.'
Forest schools originated from Scandinavia, and are based on the principle that time, space and contact with the natural environment are key to a child's development. Now a fully developed training programme, Houghton Education is available to all schools in Norfolk and free travel, funded by a Cholmondeley family trust, is provided to those within a 20 mile radius. Lord Cholmondeley said: 'The Houghton Education programme is a tremendous collaboration between Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the estate. I am extremely proud that Houghton has provided and continues to provide an outdoor 'classroom' to so many pupils in schools across Norfolk.'
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