Uniquely located just over a mile from the National Trust’s Sheffield Park.
Every Tuesday afternoon after lunch, the children walk along a bucolic private farm track to their East Park woodland, observing the seasonal life of the farm animals, and foraging nature’s larder for wild garlic, nettles and elderflower. The historic East Park woods hosts our Forest School site. Last used by the Canadian soldiers in World War 2; it remains magically undisturbed. The clues of their stay lie in hidden pathways and occasional building footings. Inspired by the soldiers, we created our own camp, making bunk beds using green wood, camouflage shelters and baking brownies in our camp kitchen over the fire.
The National Trust supports Fletching Forest School and have licensed our use of these beautiful woods. In return the children our responsible for the woodlands management; learning and carrying out ’Haloeing’ which involves clearing young trees that grow quickly, like sycamore and birch, from the radius of the mature oak trees to ensure they’ll prosper for another 200 years. They help control invasive species such as small balsam to increase the diversity of wild flowers. The timber we clear becomes the material for our next making project; ladders from the last young trees felled, bird boxes, sculptures, even our own adventure play area with swings and seesaws. We develop a student’s resourcefulness, building confidence and awareness of their impact on the environment.
Influenced by the seasons, we forage ingredients to make an “Ouch” cream remedy, jams and syrups, bird feeders. We make campfires and play nature inspired games in the woods and open grassland.
All activities link sensitively with our environment and support the management of our woodland. We place a big emphasis on developing children’s skills and confidence. From splitting tree trunks using a froe and whittling branches each child built their own stool to sit on. Inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy, the children made a gigantic nest in a land art project. Next term we’ll be creating a 20m long “Sleeping Giant” amongst the woodland where clumps of moss prevail to create a storytelling area. Come and join us!