Youngsters at Horsley Woodhouse Primary School are getting back to nature with a wild set of weekly lessons.
The village primary’s forest school sessions are now in their fifth year and see the pupils learning all manner of practical outdoor skills in the on-site woods during the summer term.
For ten weeks, small groups from years one, three and five head to the woodlands to craft toys, dens and take part in team-building activities.
Teaching assistant Lorraine Adams takes the lessons at the school and says they are all about helping children to learn about the world around them.
She said: “We do lots of activities to raise self esteem and increase confidence - and really promote teamwork as well.
“When we are outside we are looking after ourselves and each other - but also the world around us as well.
“It’s often very normal for a youngster to look at an insect and pull its legs off - well this is about saying no you shouldn’t do that.”
The activities the pupils take part in varies depending on the year group. The infants will focus more on imaginative play, learning about nature and being creative, says Lorraine, with the older groups getting more hands on.
Often they will use tools such as saws, drills and loppers to make items out of wood, all with trained supervision, of course. In the past youngsters have made anything from a flagpole, to picture frames, a bow - even musical instruments such as a kazoo or whistle.
Sometimes the group builds dens together, from a small shelter suitable for a hedgehog, through to bigger structures – big enough for the children to play in.
Not all of the projects work out, says Lorraine, such as recent attempts to cook a pizza on a log fire, but that is just art of the learning experience!
“I like to think the lessons make them realise everything isn’t instant. It gives them the time to experiment - to try and make some of their ideas a reality. Everything in a child’s life these days is instant , they don’t have to wait for anything now. Whereas if you are sawing a piece of wood, depending on how thick it is, it does take a long time and it takes effort.
“If something doesn’t work out the first time they can just try again.”
Horsley Woodhouse Primary School is celebrating its centenary in October this year and staff are planning on opening up a school museum. If you are a former pupil and can help by supplying old photos of the school, or the village at the time - get in touch . Call the school on 01332 880403.