Forest Farm Primary School
Structure: there are currently three primary classes at Forest Farm that cater for children aged 6 to 11 years.
Teachers: Each class has a qualified teacher and teaching assistants to support the setting. There is a primary Special Educational Needs coordinator for the primary classes to support children who need additional learning support (SENDCo)
Admission policy: all children are welcome, however places are limited for children who need additional specialist support as we need to carefully consider the extent of the overall abilities in a class. We therefore take each child who has special needs on a case by case basis.
Children attend full time, Monday to Friday.
When to join and induction? Social, emotional and academic ability are all factors when deciding. Induction involves short visits, taster sessions and dialogue between teachers and parents. Once you have applied for a place we will contact you and make arrangements to introduce your child to the environment gently.
Booking a place: It is best to give us as much notice as possible. Depending on the term, spaces are limited. Try and let us know your requirements at least a term in advance.
The Primary department of Forest Farm caters for children from age 5 to 11 years.
The general ethos in the primary classes is that of enjoyment and fulfilment. We want children to enjoy their experience of learning in a non pressurised environment where nurturing the emotional needs of the child comes first, before any substantial learning takes place. We want the children to have some say in what they do and how they learn, so that it is not just teacher led.
It is a child centred environment, with beautiful acres of green space in which they can explore and experience outdoor learning. Being outside is vital for the child’s wellbeing and brings a sense of calm which focuses the mind.
We aim to combine attaining the National Curriculum levels, alongside exposing the children to the Arts and wider curriculum through many different learning techniques. Their environment is a nurturing one with children's different individual learning styles being met. With the small class sizes and the individual approach our aim is to promote confidence and self esteem in each child and find something they feel they are good at. When the time comes, they will then feel ready to take the next steps.
Children progress through the age groups when they are ready, not always at fixed transition points. This allows us to make decisions that are in the interest of the child first and foremost.
Children develop cognitively and socially through interacting with older and younger children. One of the lovely things about mixed aged teaching is that it resembles more closely a natural family. Older children are keen to share their knowledge and skills with younger children, and younger children are often eager to learn from their elders. There is much evidence that this can nurture thinking skills, problem solving, develop vocabulary and other social competencies.
We use a range of teaching methods in the Primary, combining aspects of the Montessori Curriculum and the National Curriculum. The curriculum is delivered through cross-curricular topics. This allows the children to really immerse themselves in the learning experience. Topic ideas come from the children after discussion and reflect their interests which acts as a starting point for planning.
Whilst the topic work provides creative and meaningful cross-curricular links, usually focusing on either a historical, geographical or cultural aspect, mathematics, literacy and science is taught either in small groups or individually, depending on the needs and ability of each child.
Forest Farm Primary Reading Policy
At Forest Farm we aim to provide all children with the skills to read fluently, accurately and with understanding. Above all, we want children to enjoy reading and aim to foster a love of reading that will last a lifetime. Reading is a vital skill that supports a child’s learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Learning to read is a personal process and at Forest Farm we recognise not all children learn to read in the same way. It is for this reason we have adopted a mixed method approach to reading, aiming to give each child every chance of being a successful reader.
“The path of a reader is not a runway but more a hack through a forest, with individual twists and turns, entanglements and moments of surprise” (Holden, J. 2004)
Peripatetic lessons during the school day with teaching specialists
Forest School, outdoor learning
Drama and LAMDA
Individual guitar or ukulele
Eco schools-lunchtime club
Victoria Reaston-Brown-Primary teacher
‘At the heart of the Primary learning environment is topic based, cultural studies. Children explore the larger world and develop knowledge and skills through cross-curricular learning. This enables children to link their learning across the curriculum as opposed to through narrowly defined subject areas. Topics are often chosen by the children, who think about what they would like to learn and the questions or themes they would like to explore. This allows children to feel part of the learning process. Some examples of previous topics are; Evolution, Climate & Conservation, The Tudors & William Shakespeare, China & its economic growth. Teaching is delivered through whole class sessions, small group work and individual instruction. The National Curriculum is used as a guide to inform planning and track progress so that children feel confident and are ready for their transition into a senior setting. Teachers follow the needs of the child at every stage of learning with a focus on teaching each child according to his or her own strengths and needs.’
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Our aim at Forest Farm is to strive to ensure that all our children feel happy and safe. Everyone is valued, respected as an individual and encouraged to persevere, striving to achieve their full potential. All children receive an education that allows equality of opportunity and fosters a love of learning. We focus on removing any barriers which impede learning.
Students at Forest Farm are actively encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and ensure that they use all resources and support available to them effectively to aid success. Students are also encouraged to contribute their views and make informed decisions about their education.
Parents have a critical role to play in their child's education. The school will work actively in partnership with parents to provide appropriate strategies to meet the student’s educational needs and encourage parents to play an active role in the student’s education.
Sports in primary
Sports in our primary school are aimed to physically build the skills children need to be physically fit and well, build confidence in their own bodies and minds and build self control and self esteem. Each half term the focus is on a new sport or area of development. Both traditional sports and sports from around the world are combined throughout the year to introduce the children to a variety of sports and activities that each and every child may find enjoyment through. Our sports have a non competitive focus, instead, the focus in on self improvement and positive collegiate teamwork. Sports that children particularly enjoy on a more regular basis, such as football or gymnastics are offered after school all year round. Occasionally throughout the year, children play as a team with other schools in friendly games of football or athletics.
Eco School: We endeavour to play our part in ‘Saving the Planet’. We are a Bronze Award Eco School and we have a council with members from each age group of the school. Each half term we focus on a topic to create a greener environment for the children. We are working towards the Silver Award We focus on reducing plastic within the school, we plant trees, we created a wild flower meadow during the summer and attracted bees and butterflies, moths as well as many other insects. We plant trees yearly and have over two thousand trees in our coppice wood where the children play and take part in Forest Schools. The coppice wood creates every opportunity for diverse wildlife.
At Forest Farm School we aim to spend 20% of the week outside learning. We believe the natural environment promotes good health, good feeling, peace, risk taking are just some of the benefits to being outside. We have varied spaces, such as fruit growing areas, a greenhouse for planting and chairs and tables for outdoor classroom, adventure playground and the coppice wood, large open spaces too, with willow domes as shade. There are footpaths around the school into the woods and open farmland.
We have integrated outside learning as part of the curriculum. In the primary classes we have set up Forest Schools on a weekly basis, where the children ‘go out’ and explore, learn and observe nature and the seasons, care for the environment, learn about the importance of looking after our flora and fauna, learn survival techniques and just be.
There is no limit to the experiences and curiosities that outdoor environments and activities can arouse. Participants frequently discover potential, abilities and interests that surprise themselves and others. Safety codes provide clear boundaries and learning goals give clear direction, but Outdoor Learning draws in energy and inspiration from all around. 'Broadening horizons' is a common outcome.
Outdoor Learning is real learning
Not only does Outdoor Learning happen in the natural environments where participants can see, hear, touch and smell the real thing, it also happens in an arena where actions have real results and consequences. Outdoor Learning can help to bring many school subjects alive while also providing experiential opportunities for fulfilling the National Curriculum aim "to enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity." Source: DfES & QCA, The National Curriculum, 'Aims for the School Curriculum' 1999.
Forest School Ethos
Forest School is a time and a place where children are free. Free to run, hide, slide, climb, shout, get muddy, observe, build, explore, imagine, experiment, collaborate with friends or be alone. At Forest School you do something because YOU want to do it and we believe that if you’ve chosen to do something, what you learn will be much more meaningful than doing something because someone else has asked you to. Succeeding at something you’ve chosen to persevere at, gives you motivation & concentration, confidence, resilience and self-esteem.
Outdoor play requires gross and fine motor skills, language and social skills, problem solving, numeracy and creative thinking. It strengthens the immune system, and through capturing all our senses helps us to observe, listen and BE and to connect more with the world around us and with ourselves. This ‘time out’ is becoming increasingly essential for children today who have more and more demands made on their time.
The natural world is a rich environment in which to enjoy: bug spotting, tree climbing, den building, leaf id, fairy house building, willow weaving, beading from natural materials and pond dipping. In a safe environment, with a high adult/child ratio, children learn how to work safely with ‘dangerous’ tools, like knives, loppers, axes, and mallets, build fires, cook stick bread, make soup and foraged tea. Through doing these ‘risky’ things, they learn to assess, prepare and take responsibility for themselves and those around them.
We believe that if our children have fun, feel comfortable and uplifted in nature, they will appreciate, care for and fight for it.
Our Forest School Leader, Sally-Ann Woodrow, is a Qualified Level Three Forest School Leader and a member of the Forest School Association. The FSA is the professional body and UK wide voice for Forest School, promoting best practice, cohesion and ‘quality Forest School for all’. Our sessions are guided by the Forest Schools Association (FSA) principles, agreed in 2011.
Parents and OMS
Parent support is vital for the well being of children and the school. We welcome parental contribution and parent interest in whatever is going on at school and in the classroom as well as supporting children’s time at school. We have an open door policy and parents are able to come into the classroom before class starts and after school. Children are able to show parents what they have been doing on a daily basis. Appointments can be made to talk to teachers after school hours and more formal parent teacher meetings are held twice a year. Parents receive a full written report at the end of the school year.
Regular events to include parents are :
Our End of Term winter performance with a drama or music focus.
Primary and senior End of Year event in the summer-Drama/ Music
Camping Night-Held around the Summer Solstice
Half termly Charity Cafe breakfasts from 8.30am-9.30am
Regular Social teas and occasional Open classrooms
Ways to support your children’s progress and time at school:
Know the class timetable and what they need to bring to school, ie, PE kit, reading book, instrument for individual lesson, etc.
Read the class newsletters and diarise events for things happening in school
Be punctual-important for not missing out on important information at the beginning of the day and for minimising disruption.
Be punctual at the end of the day for picking up. Children are tired at the end of the day and want to be greeted like all the other children and go home.
Support your child read at home. It’s really important to read to them and get your children to read aloud to you until they reach at least senior school age.
Attend school events as often as possible.
Come in and do a special activity with the children or come and read your favorite children’s story or tell them about a relevant topical experience or your interesting job.
Be positive about school with your child.
After school clubs for primary children
After school club is available for nursery and primary children on a daily basis until 5.30pm. The emphasis is on creative art and outside play.
Clubs available until 4/4.30pm:
Create holiday club is available for primary children up to the age of 12 and operates all holidays except over the 3 week Christmas holiday.