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Can Forest School act as a spur to better quality outdoor experiences?
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 12:38 authored by Sara A. Knight
Recently I was working with a group of early years practitioners, giving them a taste of Forest School as part of a continuing professional development programme covering a range of ideas for use in early years settings. Some had encountered Forest School before, but for some it was new. We had worked through bits of theory and reading online and then met up for a day in the woods. They bravely overcame any trepidation about being wild in a wood in January. By the end of the session they were all very enthusiastic and could see the benefits for the children in their settings, but many of them felt that there are still barriers to overcome with colleagues for whom outdoor play is, even now, just for letting off steam in between the real activities of the day. I have run similar courses before, but had always assumed that the enthusiasm of the participants was in some measure due to the fact that they were self-selecting. This was not true of this group, as the CPD programme is a requirement for them, and yet they were as equally enthusiastic as other groups. If one session in a wood (together with access to a range of supporting readings) can influence the way in which change agents like EYPs view their outdoor provision, then perhaps this is a way to promote quality in outdoor provision. Perhaps we can even move away from seeing outdoor play as just a release from other activities – although maybe the implied criticism of being indoors is one to reflect on, too.
Publication titleReflections on Early Years Issues