Amber Valley and Erewash

Information for Amber Valley and Erewash

Lons Infant School, Ripley 29th March 2017

Host: Karen Barber

Karen showed us around Lon’s beautiful onsite wood. I visited a number of years ago when the school took developing this site on as a long term project and the results are amazing.  Karen explained how the children decided to call their Forest School base ‘Little Acorn Wood’ and how an oak has been grown from an acorn to plant in the woods which was previously acornless! However the wood is home to a huge Black Poplar a rare, native species in decline .

The main focus of this meeting was to discuss tool use with groups and how to develop this. Some interesting points came up around expectation v’s limitations and supporting participant led learning with tools.

Lons Infant School run a full day of Forest School as part of a short programme with the afternoon session devoted to participant led activities. A group has recently been exploring the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Frames were hung in trees to represent Mary and children considered how they might rescue Mary and created trails to move her to a safer place.

As part of a Forest School session children had participated in the RSPB’s Big Bird Watch with pairs taking turns for 20 minutes each.

A few favorite books were mentioned (now added to the resource pages) The Stick Book, Wild Weather and the Man Who Planted Trees.

Local Cluster Meeting Monday 22nd February 2016 Windley Wood

Hosts: Christine Gray and Andrew Martyn-Sugars

Attendees: Christine Gray, Andrew Martyn-Sugars – Corridor Arts/Turnditch Primary, Clare, Jenny, Hemendra  – Independent Practitioners, Rachel Dixon – Ashbourne Juniors, Davinia Gamble – Newton Solney Primary

Christine and Andrew have recently gained permission from the parish council to use Windley Woods as a base for Turnditch Primary Schools after school club. The woods until recently had rarely been used and we discussed issues surrounding reactions to visual impact and concerns regarding potential future impacts as they move through the year and birds begin to nest/vegetation begins to appear and the ways in which a Forest School programme can potentially benefit a woodland site. The group compared the pro and cons of their own sites and offered potential solutions to some of the issues that others were dealing with. Some of the group have decided to visit each others sessions as volunteers and we have the next two meetings penciled in so that we can all put our heads together and hopefully come up with similar solutions at other sites. Thanks to all that attended and shared your invaluable tips and experiences. As it got dark we were joined by a buzzard and then a pheasant and were treated to a fabulous view of the full moon as the meeting closed – wow!


Somercoates Infant School, Forest School ‘Get Together’, September 2014

Forest School Practitioners Sarah and Lindsay welcomed other local Forest to visit their site and find out more about how Forest School Programmes have developed here. The event was attended by over 20 people and was a welcome opportunity for those working alone delivering Forest School Programmes to share ideas and info with other practitioners.

Alphabet House spells out success for forestry judges

Alphabet House Day Nursery in Nottingham Road, Long Eaton, has scooped a £500 prize in the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) Excellence in Forestry Schools Award 2011 after impressing judges with their Forest School.

Schools in a region ranging from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to the North London boroughs and East Anglia were invited to take part in the RFS Schools Award which aims to encourage and reward those that increase understanding and appreciation of woodlands and of the link between trees and everyday wood products. The awards are held annually, rotating around England, Wales and Northern Ireland over a seven year period.

Alphabet House took second place and will also receive 2 trees. Judging the 2011 competition, Susannah Podmore, Forest Education Initiative Co-ordinator for England, said: “The enthusiasm from the nursery, the woodland owners, parents, and assistants for this Forest School programme was overwhelming. The programme has been featured in Nursery World as an excellent case study for other early years and primary settings.

“With very little funding, this Forest School has been embedded into the whole nursery approach to child-led learning in a woodland setting. We wish the nursery all the best for their future plans to develop another site at the woodland.

Head David Green says: “We are delighted that the hard work, time and passion that all our staff put into our Forest Schools programme have achieved this level of recognition.

“I am personally proud that my nursery has provided our children and their parents with the unique opportunity to engage with the natural world. Using the woodland as our learning resource has enabled them to learn and develop in ways that would not be possible in a conventional setting.

“By forging partnerships with local landowners we have been able to expose our children to the wonders of nature and allow them to make life long connections with the natural world.”

Thanks to close links with local woodland owners, the nursery has been able to create its own Forest School in five acre woodland.

Children are encouraged to take part in Forest School from the age of three or four, building shelters and enjoying imaginative and creative play. Storytelling and snacks around a forest fire are all on the timetable. Parents and carers are encouraged to get involved and local community action groups have also helped build a fire pit, seating area and toilets




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