FEIS FOREST SCHOOL
Foshan EtonHouse is proud to announce its very own Forest School! What exactly is Forest School, and how does this operate at FEIS?
Forest school has been growing steadily in the UK and abroad since staff from Bridgewater College headed out to see the excellent examples in Denmark in 2003. Building on a strong tradition of outdoor learning and holistic approaches to education, Forest School has been a grass roots movement.
Forest Schools around the world are often as varied as the forests themselves, and no two Forest Schools look the same. Whilst we may not have access to a forest per se, our urban setting here in Foshan is by no means a hindrance to facilitating the underlying principles of a Forest School session.
Forest School inspires children and young people to value the biodiversity and habitats within their site, to develop a strong sense of guardianship and understand the value of sustainable resources whilst learning the uses of the fauna and flora around them.
We began with nothing but a sandpit, though this served as a perfect blank canvas for the creative Polars, who set about drawing up their grand designs for the communal space.
These designs were then made a reality by Mr. Lucas, who kindly built the flower beds. The sense of pride and ownership amongst the Polar Bears was so clearly visible on their faces when they saw their drawings come to life.
The children are involved in deciding upon how this space was set up, as well as future developments. They choose the plants for gardening sessions, as well as the other activities that take place in this area, such as finding and researching plants and mini-beasts. Without even realizing it, these outdoor learning engagements are developing every one of their skills as we negotiate, plan, implement, reflect, research, work together and get physically active.
The children take part in a range of activities which help to develop their health, language and physical development. They are currently trying to grow tomatoes and strawberries, and are quickly learning about the hard work that goes into the produce that we eat and quite often take for granted.
There is a strong focus on conservation and the links between wild flowers, butterflies and bees. We make use of a range of resources for themes and topics in and around seasonal changes. We linked the garden to our previous Unit of Inquiry, and it was because of this that the children opted to grow healthy food.
As we waited for our flowerbed soil to be delivered, we focused on our recycling project. I am sure that you have seen the box of plastic bottles outside the Polar Bears classroom, which is literally overflowing with donations. This is both fantastic and a cause for concern as we reflected on just how much plastic one small community gets through in a week. We have been using these plastic bottles to create a ‘living wall’ on the railings between the classrooms and the playground. The children are proud to show visitors to the school this new area, and the Polars take great pleasure in watering these plants every day.
The Polars could not settle on just one colour of flowers, so we ended up ordering over ten different varieties of Coleus for their first flowerbed. Mrs. O’Reilly, Founding Principal of FEIS, formally opened the garden on the 25th of October, cutting the ribbon and planting the first flower. When she asked where to plant the first flower, Paramvir advised “You can’t plant them too close together. It’s just like if I am eating from the same plate as Mr. Otley, we will fight over the food, so one of us won’t get enough” to which Mathea added “Maybe neither of you will get enough!”
The conceptual links that are opening up by having access to outdoor learning engagements is incredibly valuable, and we are all so excited to see how this initiative continues to surprise and inspire.
Article by : Joseph Otley
Translated by: Maggie Zeng, Sophie Wang