Ste­fan was ex­cited learn­ing about slugs and be­ing out­doors

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SCHOOL REPORT -

STE­FAN is six, and knee high to a grasshop­per. He was bounc­ing around be­cause he had learned what slugs eggs were and he had dis­cov­ered a wood lice com­mu­nity un­der some bark and ... he hadn’t been told off once dur­ing the morn­ing!

It was the first morn­ing of For­est Schools at Den­ham Vil­lage In­fant School and the chil­dren were be­gin­ning to dis­cover how em­pow­ered they are as learn­ers in the out­doors.

I vis­ited for a short while and was as­saulted by var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of chil­dren who wanted to show me the wash­ing line they had put up which was pop­u­lated with gar­den­ing gloves, a group of boys who had built a wash­ing-up sta­tion and by chil­dren who had found var­i­ous mil­li­pedes, cen­tipedes and spi­ders.

It was about 11.30am and the chil­dren had been in our na­ture area since 9.20am and their en­thu­si­asm was show­ing no signs of abat­ing. The su­per­vis­ing adults were slightly be­mused – and wor­ried they were not work­ing hard enough. I re­as­sured them as best I could.

Any­way, back to Ste­fan. He may not be the most aca­dem­i­cally gifted of boys and life at home can be tough some­times but on this morn­ing he had been at his very best.

He could ex­plore, dis­cover and most of all – suc­ceed! And he did so be­cause the fol­low­ing day he couldn’t wait to race into school and tell us how the slug eggs he had dis­cov­ered the pre­vi­ous day also in­hab­ited parts of his gar­den at home.

For­est Schools will be an in­te­gral part of the cur­ricu­lum here from now on and some of our chil­dren will be lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence it for three years.

I can­not wait to ex­pe­ri­ence how self-con­fi­dent th­ese learn­ers will be at the end of this process.

This is the way it works; and if we re­flect hard enough about how we learned the things that re­ally mat­ter to us and make us who we are in our fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties and friend­ships, we will re­alise that it wasn’t by be­ing trapped be­hind a desk learn­ing gram­mar by rote at the age of six.

Nick An­drews is head­eacher at Den­ham Vil­lage In­fants school nan­drews1@bucks­

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