I have for some time now been developing plans to open a forest school site in Roydon, near Diss on the Norfolk Suffolk border. Having worked in beautiful local woodland sites for nearly two years I now want to develop a purpose built forest school site that will be more suited to meeting the needs of all the children and families that attend.
I am fortunate to have access to a lovely field in Roydon, where we have planted 1000 native trees and 100m of hedging. We hope to build a cordwood round house for shelter there too.
We have a big vision of how the forest school centre could grow; in the long term we hope to be able to provide:
Regular, long term forest school groups for local schools, including groups for pupils with additional needs
After school clubs
Parent and child groups
To be able to fully realise these plans we need planning permission to change the land use from agricultural to amenities and permission to build a round house for shelter.
We are fortunate to have a great deal of support for this project, I would love to be able to show the decision makers in the local council just how much, so I'm asking you to add your name to a letter of support written by one of the parents who attends forest school.
Here's the letter:
To the members of South Norfolk Planning Committee
We are group of parents, grandparents and local residents who want to see greater availability of forest school sessions in our area. Many of us already attend forest school sessions with our children and grandchildren and would wholeheartedly recommend Into The Wild Wood for its excellent work. Some of our children go to the forest school after school club, some go to toddler groups, some attend through local preschools and primary schools and others are on the waiting list, hopeful that a space will come up soon. We notice how our children benefit from their time at forest school whilst having so much fun. Forest school provides children with the opportunity for long periods of outdoor play, which is often lacking as children spend more time indoors; outdoor play is a crucial and wonderful part of any childhood.
At forest school children are free to make their own choices about how to spend their time; whether that is taking part in an organised games or activities, or simply playing with other children creating their own games, adventure and fun. We are convinced that this free play, is where a lot of the best learning happens: working together, encouraging one another, negotiating, sorting out differences, sharing, being resilient etc.
Our children also benefit from the exercise they get at forest school, they are continually on the move, climbing, running, jumping, swinging; it’s brilliant physical activity! They also have the opportunity to take part in activities which they may have never done before such as using a range of hand tools, lighting fires and cooking outside. The sessions allow a lot of choice, children are encouraged to follow their own interests and take some responsibility for how they spend their time, which is really motivating for them.
The fact that this work/play happens outdoors, introduces other areas of learning, like risk taking, learning about the woodland environment, how to work with it and respect it. This will help our children to develop a meaningful relationship with nature and in time they may grow into adults who care about wildlife and the wider environment and be the ones who will fight to protect it in future.
We can see many benefits to having a permanent forest school site; the first and most important being that it will enable more forest school sessions to be run, a greater number of children will be able to take part for more sustained periods, and therefore experience greater benefit.
A permanent site would be set up with forest school in mind, so a larger variety of activities could be offered. A number of ideas are being considered for the new site including a bird hide, mud kitchen, wood work station, zip wire, scramble net, vegetable growing plot, bicycle track, bug hotels, willow tunnels, wild flower meadow, herb garden, pizza oven, outdoor kitchen… a permanent site will allow for a wider range of learning and play opportunities.
Having a permanent shelter on site that offers protection from the more extreme weather - thunder and lightning, very low temperatures, prolonged heavy rain, would be incredibly useful as it would mean sessions would not have to be cancelled and forest school could continue throughout the year whatever the weather. Having more suitable toilets and hand washing facilities on site would also be beneficial for everyone, particularly those with mobility issues.
We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that this project will bring so many benefits for children, the local community and the local environment. We would highly recommend backing Into The Wild Wood forest school in its plans to grow and develop as it meets the needs of local children.
The supporters of Into the Wild Wood forest school
Name First line of address and postcode Comment
Message or email me with your details and tell me you'd like to add your name, you can add a short comment if you would like.
(Your name and address details won't go on line anywhere, they'll just appear on the paper copy which I will submit to the planning office)
You don't have to have children who are attending forest school to sign, if you think that children in this area will benefit from this provision please message me to add your name.