Engaging with the great outdoors – Forest School at Teesside High

Monday 31 January 2022 | By Megan Connor

Teesside High School pupils continue to enjoy engaging with the great outdoors, with our Forest School benefiting from significant investment following the pandemic.

During the first Covid-19 lockdown, it was clear that nature had been a source of solace for parents and pupils alike, with families interacting with their local surroundings in new and different ways. For this reason, we invested further in our outdoor education curriculum, boosting Forest School sessions and outdoor enrichment opportunities for all.

Forest School has been a regular part of the curriculum at Teesside High School since 2013. The outdoor classroom is situated in our stunning, on-site woodland, home to wild deer, badger setts and a variety of birds who call the school’s handmade bird boxes home.

Through carefully planned sessions, children across our school in both Prep and Senior departments take part in Forest School and outdoor and adventurous activities throughout the year, enabling them to excel in all areas of their personal, academic and social development. These activities can include scavenger hunts, flora and fauna identification, imaginative play, and tasks which help build skills for life such as using woodland tools, learning how to navigate, building secure shelters and creating fire safely.

Miss Hopkins, Forest School Leader at THS, said: “It is very important to us that Forest School is an important part of daily life at school, not simply a project bolted on to an already busy curriculum.

“Through Forest School, our pupils are able to develop a lifelong love and understanding of the natural environment whilst fulfilling the core purposes of the Forest School ethos, namely, developing their self esteem, confidence and social skills.”

Forest School occupies five acres on our riverside site and boasts areas for live music making, drama performances and science experiments, to name but a few.

Kirsty Mackenzie, Head, is a firm believer in the importance of learning outdoors. She introduced a wellbeing dog to our school this year, George, the black Labrador, who is already proving a popular addition to pupil’s outdoor classes!

“A big part of our outdoor sessions is that pupils of all ages learn to take and manage risks and learn to succeed with small, achievable tasks. Our pupils love exploring the woodland here, from creating masterpieces in the mud kitchen and performing on the woodland stage to learning how to build dens and mastering key survival skills.

“There are no limits to what learning outdoors can do for our children.”