Total learner involvement is essential in Forest School; all individuals, styles, abilities and personalities are valued and encouraged through a series of short, achievable tasks. All students are encouraged to follow their own learning and development through a process of exploration and discovery; they are encouraged to take risks in a safe environment and to challenge themselves. In doing this, participants form strong and positive relationships with themselves and other people, as well as with their natural world.
A range of activities in turn encourage positive communication: speaking, listening and collaboration. Physical movement supports both fine and gross motor skill development, which can be further fine-tuned in areas such as campfire cooking and the use of tools. For some of our students, our sessions have a literacy focus in which a multi-sensory approach to reading and writing is taken.
The Institute of Education has recently researched the effects of Wildlife Trust activities on a child’s wellbeing and the ability to learn. The results concluded that the benefits of connecting to nature were not just emotional, but were found to positively affect the child’s education. In an outdoor environment brimming with exciting opportunities, the discreet teaching methods of literacy, numeracy and science are endless, as are the interesting and engaging ways to explore, discover and research.
The results concluded that the benefits of working outdoors and connecting with wildlife and nature were not just focused on well-being but were found to help support academic standards and achievement.
Students with autism or social-emotional barriers to learning benefit from our Forest School sessions as they have a fundamentally person-centred ethos. We provide the environment and space necessary for all of our young people to learn self-awareness and to recognise qualities and positive values within themselves and others. We assist in managing their emotions and help them to make responsible decisions. We also teach social awareness and model how to form and maintain positive relationships. We promote a culture of kindness and empathy for others in which we can learn from our mistakes.
Within a safe sensory environment each individual can be themselves, we can reduce the demands that a normal busy day would bring, ensuring that time can be taken to process and experience the senses that being in the forest evokes.
All of our staff here at Toucan are trained specifically to accommodate diverse and special needs learners. We thrive on the development of each student and work closely with the education authority to ensure we complement the student’s school or placement by recording and sharing relevant observation and information.
A forest school is an educational approach that takes place primarily outdoors, often in woodland or natural environments. The aim of a forest school is to help children develop confidence, independence, and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in nature. These schools often follow a child-led approach, where the children themselves choose what activities to engage in and how to explore and interact with their environment.
“The benefits of working outdoors and connecting with wildlife and nature are not just focused on well-being but were found to help support academic standards and achievement.”
We accept children of both primary and secondary school ages, self funded by parents / guardians, and also placements by schools and local authorities / LEAs.
Our sessions run from 10am to 2pm
The safety and the welfare of the pupils participating in Forest School is paramount and therefore all tasks are age appropriate and risk assessed. However, the correct clothing is essential for Forest School. It is advised to wear old clothes as we do not intend on staying clean and clothes may be damaged through wear and tear during some of our activities.
We will have a snack which is typically hot chocolate, popcorn and S’mores made over the fire.
Students will be encouraged to cook their own lunch (which we supply the ingredients for) outdoors and the menu is determined from week to week using student feedback. Lunches typically include bacon butties, curry, kebabs, flatbread pizza, full English breakfast, bean burritos, etc.
We would advise that your child still brings their own snack in case the child does not like the food on offer. We will always try to accommodate the child and your suggestions are always welcomed.
Juice and water are always available.
Sessions may include some of the following:
Staffing ratios will be adhered to and any child requiring 1 to 1 support will have this during Forest School sessions. Forest School sessions are inclusive and planned to allow pupils, including SEN to participate fully.
We have looked at other similar provisions across the country that successfully use a code B, however you may decide to record this as a medical- as linked to SEN needs. All we ask is a child is not marked as absent as they are attending Ofsted registered education led by highly qualified teachers and SEN specialists.
Our newly created Forest School Site is in Ryton, which is also a Wildlife Area.
We are also lucky enough to be close to The Willows, a local nature reserve. On occasion, we use Toucan transport to take the students safely there and we are able to bird watch, fish in the pond and look for the protected newts that the beautiful reeds and trees provide shelter for. Consent forms and parental permissions slips will be included in the welcome pack parents or schools receive from Toucan.
When there is severe weather forecast, which can include wind, heavy rain or snow, we will first look to continue the session at an alternative location which it is safe to do so if at all possible. This will be communicated to parents / carers will as much notice as possible.
The cost for a child to attend the Toucan Education Forest School can vary depending on their needs. If the child can be accommodated in existing sessions, without any additional resources or staff needed, the standard rate is £xxx per session, plus VAT. If a child needs additional resources or staffing, we’ll be happy to quote you for this on a case by case basis.
If self-funded parents / guardians are able to access childcare vouchers through an employer, then we can usually accept these too.
Payment for self funded sessions is normally via a monthly Direct Debit, with the cost spread over the term in order to give you a fixed cost.
Schools and local authorities are able to pay on invoice.
” The Forest School has been a transformative experience for the children involved. Motivated, engaged and happy are words I would use to describe the children as they participate in a range of activities. This includes a range of creative activities to develop deep thinking, reflection, problem solving and greater independence. From my conversations with the children taking part, I know how much they enjoy and look forward to the day. I have observed a noticeable impact on their social interaction skills as they collaborate and work as part of a wider team. “
” Who knew that my child was interested in anything other than Minecraft – thank you Toucan!
You have made a huge difference to our family life, as a parent I feel more confident and not alone. “
“We’ve seen a huge benefit in sending pupils to Toucan forest school, it has benefitted them socially and emotionally. The staff at Toucan have been really helpful in sharing strategies that we can use for the rest of the week in school and we find he returns in a much more calm and settled manner the day after he has been. We would highly recommend Toucan Education.“
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