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Hezlett Primary School, Castlerock, Co Londonderry

Forest Schools


Forest School
This year we became a Forest School. Hezlett is surrounded by natural beauty. It is positioned with easy access to Downhill Forest, Castlerock Beach and the Bird Hide at the Bann Estuary. Forest School is an educational programme developed from Danish ideas of working with children and young people in the outdoors, helping to build self-esteem, social skills and independence. Hands-on activities with natural materials develop practical and intellectual skills, which can be linked to the National Curriculum. It is also good for children’s mental health. Forest School aims to boost confidence through setting students up to succeed. Tasks are broken down into small achievable chunks that are matched to students’ capabilities. In addition, Forest School helps children become part of an effective efficient team and to participate in a range of creative, sensory and environmental awareness activities.

Outdoor lessons also prompt research areas eg the global effects of littering and the greenhouse effect. The Forest Schools Book Log is helpful in recording the pupil’s learning but it also gives our recount writing a real context. Follow-up activities can be just as interesting. For example last year, the children wanted to eat natural food so we made plum jam, had apple for a snack from our school tree, planting more apple trees at school and made apple tart. All the fruit was freshly picked.

There are a wide range of benefits of the Forest Schools Programme. It can impact children’s personal and social development; their use of communication through language and literacy; confidence towards problem solving, reasoning and discussion; creative opportunities and exposure; and through creating a safe environment for taking risks, children can explore and be adventurous. In turn, this has benefits on our local and national environment as children learn that their decisions matter. The children learn to respect their environment and become aware of how to take care of it. The impact of this is global and ever-lasting.

Children’s comments when I asked the children what they enjoyed about Forest Schools:

‘You can actually get your hands dirty’
‘We could go outside and find things out about nature we didn’t know before. It was good to see it for ourselves and not just see it on a screen.’
‘Having fun in the fresh air and learning to’
‘I enjoyed the teamwork and walking to the locations’
‘Adventure and learning new things’
‘Exploring places you’ve never been before’
‘It was good fun to make a difference in our community by litter picking. It was shocking too.’
‘It was amazing seeing more of the natural beauty in Northern Ireland.’
‘I enjoyed exploring and building with wood’



26th Apr 2024
P7 took to the forest again this week to take part in some 'non-traditional- methods...
26th Apr 2024
P7 had a fantastic time building their dens in the forest today! One of our groups...
8th Feb 2024
Today in our Forest School lesson, we were creating miniature settings out of natural...