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‘They love getting muddy’ – children spend more time outdoors with forest schools sessions

PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 19 October 2018

Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School is holding Forest School sessions Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School is holding Forest School sessions Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Suffolk pupils are making mud pies and hunting for bugs as part of a new outdoor learning initiative to help them learn more about the environment.

Children at Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School in Framlingham have been “having fun, getting muddy and experiencing the outdoors” by building dens, hunting for creepy crawlies and taking woodland walks.

The weekly sessions, held in “Robin Wood” at the back of the school, are part of a nationwide scheme which aims to help youngsters develop confidence and self esteem through hands on learning experiences in the natural environment.

Children swap their classrooms for the great outdoors Picture: SONYA DUNCANChildren swap their classrooms for the great outdoors Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Caroline Hopkins, who is outdoor activities co-ordinator at the school, said the initiative had proved a big hit with the younger children and there were plans for the older pupils to join in too.

“It’s just amazing for the pupils’ personal, social and emotional wellbeing,” she added. .

The school says it has helped pupils' personal, social and emotional development Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe school says it has helped pupils' personal, social and emotional development Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“It’s wonderful for their confidence, their self-esteem and their imagination.

“Just being outside seems to help some children flourish more than when they’re in the classroom,

The weekly sessions take place in 'Robin Wood'  Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe weekly sessions take place in 'Robin Wood' Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“They seem to feel more comfortable in the outside environment.

Mrs Hopkins also said the outdoors sessions helped the children learn about risk taking - but in a safe environment.

The sessions include teaching skills such as den building Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe sessions include teaching skills such as den building Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

She has praised the work of teaching assistants Denise Waddell and Kim Free who underwent months of training to become Forest School leaders. “It’s down to all their hard work – they’ve been brilliant, “she added.

Recent sessions have involved scavenger hunts, woodland management and using nature to make decorations. Other classes have featured campfire cooking sessions making drop scones, stewed apples and blackberries.

Pupils from reception and years one and two have been taking part in the weekly sessions Picture: SONYA DUNCANPupils from reception and years one and two have been taking part in the weekly sessions Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Forest School leader Mrs Free said: “The children get so much out of it.

“They love getting muddy.”

Pupils have also been hunting for creepy crawlies Picture: SONYA DUNCANPupils have also been hunting for creepy crawlies Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Mrs Waddell, another Forest School leader added: “It’s great for the children to be outdoors, learning about the environment and being involved with looking after the environment.”

A spokesman for the Forest Schools Association said: “At Forest School we are passionate about getting children outside, using natural materials to learn through play while respecting nature and the environment.

Forest Schools is a national scheme led by the Forest Schools Association Picture: SONYA DUNCANForest Schools is a national scheme led by the Forest Schools Association Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

“Children are given the opportunity to develop and experience real life skills by using real tools, lighting fires and taking risks in a safe environment.”

Forest Schools leaders say the children 'love getting muddy' Picture: SONYA DUNCANForest Schools leaders say the children 'love getting muddy' Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Some of the sessions saw the children make willow crowns Picture: SONYA DUNCANSome of the sessions saw the children make willow crowns Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The children have also learned about using natural dye Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe children have also learned about using natural dye Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The sessions are said to have fuelled the children's imagination Picture: SONY DUNCANThe sessions are said to have fuelled the children's imagination Picture: SONY DUNCAN

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