Children from Southwell Smiley Faces Pre-School in Portland visited a training centre to help trainees complete their Forest School qualifications.

The pre-schoolers enjoyed lots of activities at Whitehorse Forest School, including hunting for bugs, building dens and litter picking. The trainee Forest School leaders helped to teach the children about the environment and how to look after it.

Manager of Smiley Faces, Jenny Whyton, said: “Getting the kids outside is so important. It gives them new learning experiences they might not have at home and broadens their horizons.”

Jenny herself completed her Forest School training at the centre in Moreton, three years ago. She now brings her pupils to visit so that trainee Forest School leaders get hands-on experience with the children.

Jenny added: “I think training in Forest School management impacts how you deliver the rest of the curriculum. You can deliver every aspect of the curriculum outside – you just have to change your mindset. I think it lends itself to a positive learning environment. We all have access to the outdoors and it’s free.”

Robert Hamilton, who started the Forest School training facility, said: “Instead of outsourcing forest school learning, we want teachers to be able to deliver it themselves. In this day and age, budgets are being cut so whatever schools can do themselves is a real benefit. You only need one qualified member of staff who can deliver forest school learning across the school so it’s a really cost-effective way of doing it.

“What we want to do is equip teachers, nursery school leaders and anyone who works with children to be able to run and lead their own Forest School, safely and effectively.”

In three years, the centre has taught over 100 Level 3 Forest School leaders.

Trainees spend a total of 8 days across 8 weeks in the woodland area in Moreton. All their training takes place outside and they have 2 sessions with children to get experience of running Forest School sessions.

Find out more about Whitehorse Forest School training here.

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