FOREST SCHOOL / YSGOL GOEDWIG

Forest School is always a very popular activity for pupils at Ysgol Llandrillo-Yn-Rhos.

We are lucky enough to have our own specially designed area on the junior site, complete with a campfire, wooden classroom, trees, outdoor learning areas and beds where children can grow herbs and plants.

Forest School’s pond contains newts, goldfish, frogs, water snails and a family of stickleback fish.

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Pupils do a huge range of activities including pond dipping, outdoor cooking, toasting marshmallows around the fire and creating art from natural materials. The younger children love role play and pretending to be woodland fairies and elves. The older children build dens out of natural materials or create kites from sticks.

Pupils are also taught how to spot different flora and fauna on school walks to Bryn Euryn – the local limestone hill which overlooks Rhos-on-Sea. They build bird feeders so that no thrush goes hungry over the winter.

Forest School leader Fiona Cowgill said: “I try whenever possible to tie the sessions into the topic each year group is studying that term. Children are encouraged to work as individuals but also learn about teamwork and respecting others.

“Because I only have half a class at a time, it means they get extra attention. Their teacher can also focus on a smaller group within the classroom.

“The children seem to love being outdoors. Pupils who may struggle in the classroom, often come into their own in an outdoor setting.”

The inspiration for Forest Schools is drawn from pre-school education in Scandinavia which focuses on learning outdoors. It has strongly influenced the ideals of the Foundation Phase curriculum in Wales and the way Forest Schools are run.

Develop confidence

Mrs Cowgill said: “We want to give children the opportunity to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning in a woodland environment.”

Ysgol Llandrillo-Yn-Rhos primary school also runs Beach School sessions during the warmer summer months.

“We create beach art, build sandcastles, look at rock pools. We discuss marine pollution with older pupils and the impact of rubbish on the environment. We even spot seals from time to time.”

If your child is scheduled to have a session at Forest School – they will need to wear old clothes that can get dirty. If it is cold and rainy, something warm and waterproof and a hat and gloves are required. They will also need walking boots or trainers and a pair of wellies if it is wet.