Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Learning Woodland Skills

Pembrokeshire pupils have been learning about the great outdoors in special woodland classrooms this week.

Almost 200 youngsters from the School Councils of 10 local primary schools have been visiting local woodlands and learning about different plants, trees and animals.

They have also been taking lessons in how to make shelters, lay fires and use tools - as well as take part in craft work and other activities.

The outdoor trips are part of the Forest School initiative, which has been growing in popularity since it was introduced into Pembrokeshire five years ago.

Since the scheme's introduction, around 600 pupils from across the County have learnt woodland skills.

Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, who joined pupils at Penderry Farm near Llandewi Velfry on Tuesday, said the woodland classrooms provided enormous benefits to children.

"Forest Schools really bring learning to life," he said. "It's a completely different learning environment, and children absolutely thrive on it. It's great for their confidence and self-esteem."

Introduced into Britain from Denmark, Forest Schools aims to develop children's self confidence and independence as well as encourage them to appreciate and care for the natural environment.

Children are taught woodland skills by teachers who have already received comprehensive training on Forest School Leader Courses.

On Tuesday children from Tavernspite, Stepaside, Pembroke Dock, St Oswalds and St Aidans schools visited Penderry Farm while pupils from Monkton, Spittal, Neyalnd , Ger y Llan and Fenton visited Castell Henllys near Newport on Wednesday.

"The Forest School scheme is proving to be a popular development and one that is moving forward from strength to strength," said Rose Evans, Flying Start Advisory Teacher and co-ordinator of the scheme.

"The woodland sites provide a safe environment for the children to explore and also help build confidence and social skills.

"It also helps to engage them in different aspects of the curriculum in the outdoor environment and stimulates their imaginations by bringing subjects to life."

Photograph: Forest School Leader Juliet Hughes from Pembroke Dock School leads a workshop with pupils on fire lighting. Also pictured is Councillor Huw George


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