Forest school fun for new pupils at St Nicholas-at-Wade Primary School

Outdoor mud kitchen fun

Little children starting life at St Nicholas-at-Wade Primary are already exploring the school grounds and enjoying outdoor learning.

Head Teacher Taralee Kennedy said: “The Reception year group girls and boys who joined us just a few weeks ago have already embraced the ‘forest school’ part of school life by looking around the numerous shrubs and trees that circle the site’s main play area.

“We have a lovely safe outdoor space which is ideal for learning about our environment and how to care for it – all sorts of lessons across the curriculum can lend themselves to be taught outside as well as in class.”

Hannah Buckley, the KS1 and Early Years lead, is forest school trained and advocates strongly for this aspect of education to enrich the learning opportunities. Rated by Ofsted as outstanding, this provision at St Nicholas is focused on creating a safe and happy environment with motivating and enjoyable learning experiences that enable children to become confident and independent.

Forest school practitioner Abigail Hall said: “Embracing outdoor learning within our curriculum is the best possible start for our girls and boys who flourish with the varied learning journey they enjoy.”

Mrs Kennedy added: “The fantastic learning environment created here has meant that we have happily opened up our doors to other schools to share our excellent practice and resources.”

Meanwhile the new intake have settled in to full time learning after a successful phased introduction to school life that included visits from teaching staff to their homes.

Mrs Kennedy added: “Our school is small and friendly and they are finding their way around, making friends, enjoying the many learning activities outside and inside their classroom – and first reports show that they love our tasty school dinners too.

“Our older Year 6 children have been acting as mentors for the Reception group, supporting them as they settle in during the morning and at lunch times. This illustrates the community bond that we have between all our age groups, which is lovely to see.”

The head teacher, who started at the school in September too, is eagerly finding out more about her new pupils. She said: “They all have individual stories to tell about their own achievements and experiences that I love to hear about – for example, one little boy proudly showed me his Gadgeteers summer reading challenge certificate, while another lad brought me pictures of his visit to London where he laid floral tributes for the Queen.”

And as the new faces become part of life at St Nicholas Primary, thoughts are already turning to next year’s intake. Mrs Kennedy added: “We can’t believe that it is almost time to welcome families and prospective pupils in to have a look around the school in the next month or two in advance of September 2023. These are exciting times. “