Derbyshire junior school unveils new outdoor forest classroom
A Dronfield junior school has unveiled a new outdoor classroom to help children build their confidence and self-esteem while developing an understanding of the natural world.
Stonelow Junior School, in Dronfield, officially opened its new ‘Forest School’ during a small ceremony on Monday, July 12.
The area, which includes seats and a canopy, has been made possible thanks to fundraising by the schools Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and a donation from the Dronfield Rotary Club.
It is hoped that children will be able to fully use the site for outdoor lessons from September, once staff have received the relevant training.
Catherine Robinson, headteacher of Stonelow Juniors, said: “As a school, we would like to do more Forest School work and so this is the beginning of us being able to do that, training up staff and making sure that the children can get outside on our school grounds and enjoy the environment.
“In Dronfield, we’ve got woodland areas nearby and a fantastic field at Stonelow that really we weren’t utilising as much as we should so getting this Forest School area up and running is really going to encourage staff to plan for it.
Forest School is an outdoor education delivery model which allows children to develop strong communication and social skills by taking part in hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor woodland environment.
At Stonelow Juniors, the initiative will be led by Mrs Williamson who also teaches PSHE/RSHE and has undertaken training to ensure staff can make the most of the Forest School programme.
Mrs Robinson added: “The Forest School area is currently on the field so the children can use it as a quiet space. It’s a nice space to watch the birds and they’ve already started to do that.
"One or two teachers have been out and done lessons out there too, such as reading stories, so it is an area that is already used but what we want to do is use it for the Forest School activities come September.
"That’ll include teaching children about the environment and I do think, after the year the children have had, it will really support their wellbeing and mental health because nature is known to do that.”