Forest Schools are an exciting and inspirational experience for children, encouraging them to learn through activities in an outdoor setting.
The Forest School concept is based on a Scandinavian idea that considers children’s contact with nature to be extremely important from an early age. A study trip from Somerset to Denmark in 1995 decided that the approach was appropriate for use in Britain.
Since then Forest School has spread to many areas as educationalists have witnessed the very positive impact that it can have on children.
By incorporating innovative approaches to learning children are encouraged to develop their curiosity and motivation to learn.
Castleroe PS are in the fortunate position of having their own woodland area within the grounds, as well as being conveniently located within walking distance of Somerset Forest. During the covid-19 pandemic children were out of the classroom and the conventional learning environment for prolonged periods of time.
When planning a safe return to education in the school building, the school leadership team wanted to ensure the pupils of Castleroe were fully engaged by incorporating innovative approaches to learning where children were encouraged to develop their curiosity and motivation to learn.
The school are grateful to the financial support of CRUN – Causeway Rural and Urban Network, who have funded the Level 3 training of teachers Mrs Alyson Wilson and Mr David McMillan through the Making Life Better through COVID 19 Short Term Funding Programme 2020-2021. Mr McMillan is currently working towards Level 4 Forest School Leader accreditation funded by the Making Life Better Through Short Term Funding Programme 2021-2022.
This training has ensured that the outdoor opportunities that the pupils of Castleroe are experiencing are linked meaningfully to the school curriculum, so that the key areas of learning and the cross curricular skills are taught effectively and creatively in the outdoors.
Mrs Samantha Williams, Principal of Castleroe PS said: “As educators our role is to motivate and inspire children to recognise and meet their full potential. Using our outdoor environment and resources for teaching has had a very positive impact not only on the levels of children’s engagement in their learning, but also on their standards of achievement as a result of the innovative and creative teaching and pedagogy provided by the staff of Castleroe PS.
“We are immensely grateful for CRUN’s financial support, and I would personally like to recognise the hard work and superb teaching offered by our staff to ensure that our pupils’ needs are continuously met.”
Rev Mark Goudy, Chairperson of the Board of Governors of Castleroe PS, welcomed the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Mayor Richard Holmes, to Castleroe PS to plant a tree in the school grounds in recognition of the school’s achievement, and a symbol of hope and regeneration following a period of uncertainty throughout the pandemic.
The Mayor enjoyed a tour of the school’s bright and modern facilities, meeting staff and pupils, before planting a cheery blossom tree in the school grounds, ably assisted by pupils Finn McNie and Reuben Cavan.
Anyone who would like to see what Castleroe PS has to offer in terms of school grounds, facilities and outstanding teaching and learning, is welcome to contact the school Principal and make an appointment, or go along to their Open Morning on Saturday, December 4 from 11am – 12.30pm.