Itchen Valley Country Park's Forest School helps children and young people experience nature and the outdoor environment in a safe and secure but hands-on way and to be a part of the changing seasons.
Youth Options have now taken over the management of both the Forest School and Little Owls Woodland Preschool but the same staff will be running the groups, in the same locations with the same equipment. Just different uniforms!
All the staff are members of the Forest School Association the professional body and UK wide voice for Forest School.
The Woodland Classroom is set in the woods near the Visitor Centre with easy access to toilets. It’s well fenced all the way round with smooth wire stock fencing – ensuring a safe space for children to be free in.
The Forest School gives children the chance to relax and develop confidence whilst allowing carefully managed risks. They learn many practical skills but, more importantly, they also learn social skills, team-working and responsible risk taking. All this is done sneakily while they are having fun and getting mucky, so please don't dress children in their best clothes!
Activities are built up through small achievable tasks to improve confidence and these may include mini-beast hunts, pond dipping, natural crafts, shelter building, knots, using tools for a purpose, fire building, cooking, nest box building and much more (depending on the age of the children).
The higher than average staff to pupil ratio allows us to organise more challenging activities. Most children will learn how to build and light a fire during their sessions and they will also be given the opportunity to cook on it - anything from sausages and damper bread to soup and curry!
The outdoor location encourages them to learn about nature and the environment and helps them to understand sustainability.
"A fantastic experience!” - Fair Oak Infant School
"A few of the children who are reserved at school really came out of themselves and enjoyed learning about the natural world” - Fair Oak Junior School
"Year 9 Pastoral Leaders have praised some of our students on return from Forest School for their improved behaviour and new found self-confidence” - Wyvern Technology College
"It was a pleasure to witness such growth in the children in so many ways”