Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Trafford Park based business Cargill, 18 young people from the Canterbury Centre in Salford have been able to attend Forest School sessions throughout 2021.
Corporate sponsorship has allowed Suzanne, Community Project Lead at Groundwork, to work closely with 18 pupils who have previously disengaged with traditional education.
Outdoor education like this often provides a better environment for learning as it makes active use of the senses.
The pupils taking part in the Forest School programme have spent the past 9 months working towards John Muir Awards and a Junior Forester Awards, both of which teach skills about conserving and caring for nature.
A Typical Forest School Session
Suzanne begins every session with a cooking activity on the fire. This helps the group bond and relax as well as teaching fire safety skills. Throughout the day pupils learn about taking and managing risk, and the safety of self and others around them.
The young people are asked each week what they would like to cook the following week, this gives them a sense of ownership of the programme and helps engage them in other activities.
Throughout the 2021 programme, the young people have chosen to cook sausages, bacon, waffles, popcorn, marshmallows, toast, baked potatoes, potato bombs, cheese toasties and more!
After the cooking session, the group decides what activities they will undertake. Again, pupils are given choice and freedom to explore the park and a variety of tasks.
Throughout the 2021 programme, the young people have chosen to identify trees, cut back the overgrown pond area, clear overgrown plants from inside the pond, pond dip, learn about tinder and kindling for fire lighting, make a saw horse from pallets and press apple.
All of these activities provide an opportunity for the young people to work together, develop team building skills and embed values of helping others.
Forest School Awards
Of the 18 pupils attending the Cargill Forest School Programme:
- 2 achieved John Muir Discovery Award
- 5 achieved John Muir Explorer Award
- 3 achieved Junior Forester Award
Case Study – James*
James came to the Canterbury Centre in Year 9. His poor health was having a negative impact on his attendance at his mainstream school and he eventually stopped attending completely.
Mum withdrew him from mainstream schooling with the intention of home schooling but found this too difficult. In early 2021 news reached the Canterbury School staff that he hardly left the house for the past 12 months.
James had a very limited, unhealthy diet. He very rarely left the home and preferred to remain indoors playing computer games, which weakened both his physical and mental health.
After attending some Forest School sessions, James started to eat some new foods like popcorn and beans. His mum reported that he would sleep much better after a session at Forest School thanks to all the ‘fresh air’.
His Mum also commented that James would ask to go on walks together and would spend time identifying different trees and leaves. James even took a walk to pick some dogwood to make a wreath for his Nana during the Christmas holidays.
James also mentioned that he had cut back some of his own garden during the Summer holidays safely using some cutters, an act that had made him feel very proud.
*Name changed to protect identity