Published Thursday, 31 May 2018
A series of eight films documenting Forest Schools in our local greenspaces have been produced by primary school pupils.
The pupils from Blackwood Primary School, Chatelherault Primary School (Hamilton) and Robert Owen Primary School (Lanark) were also trained in Citizen Journalism skills in order to document their experiences over the 12 week period.
The Outdoor Learning and Wild Play videos follow the children’s development in Forest School skills and charts their rise in confidence in playing outside through developing skills such as den building, woodland art, campfire cooking and making tree-cookies, in their local greenspace.
Bespoke Forest School training levels 2-3 was carried out alongside the project, attended by 8 members of staff, enabling them to go on to establish their own natural play initiatives.
The Forest School training was delivered by Outlet: Play Resource whilst the Citizen Journalism film-making training was delivered by Laura Frood Community Arts. The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and South Lanarkshire LEADER supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), and the William Grant Foundation.
The project was popular with the students and teachers alike, with one pupil saying, “I was very excited when we were going because I really love the forest and we would get to experience the outdoors. I wasn’t looking forward to the spiders and the mud but now I’m not scared of spiders and I like mud.”
Confirming that fun can be had in all weathers, another pupil commented, “My favourite experience was when it was raining because I could splash in puddles and slip in the mud. It was really fun to play in the rain. We even cooked in the rain! In the rain it smelled like fire when we were cooking.”
Hazel McCallum, Depute Head at Robert Owen Primary said, “100% this was a beneficial experience for all of us and one that we would love to repeat. Many of our children do not play outside on a regular basis. The Forest School gave them the opportunity to be out and in the open and actively engaged each week. Some of our staff are working on the Forest Schools award and this gave them the opportunity to experience tasks first hand. It widened their knowledge base and increased their confidence to try new things.”
The project is part of a wider natural play focussed initiative under the same name, Growing Up Wild, supported by CAVLP since 2016. To date, it has included Lanarkshire’s first ever conference on natural play in November 2016, funded 62 holiday woodland play sessions, trained 38 Forest School leaders, supported at least 12 Forest Schools, and 10 outdoor play clubs.
Karen Dobbins, Growing Up Wild Development Officer at CAVLP says, “The Growing up Wild initiative is all about empowering schools and communities to get out playing and learning in their local woodlands and greenspaces. There’s a worrying focus these days on the demise of natural play and related decline in child wellbeing as they lose contact with nature. I believe we can and need to change this. As adults, the most precious gift we can give to the children in our communities is the space, the time and the freedom to play- and play they will!”
People interested in finding out more about natural play initiatives groups, ideas and networking in the area, can request to join the Growing Up Wild – Outdoor Play Facebook group, coordinated by OutLET: Play Resource.