Goddard Park Forest

At Goddard Park Community Primary School we LOVE Forest School.  It is so popular with the children they want to do more and more!  Most Forest School takes place in the small school woodland planted as part of the Great Western Community Forest over 20 years ago.  It is not really big enough to cope with all the use so two years ago we planted another 850 kindly given to us by the Woodland Trust in a new woodland and hedgerows.  We also planted an orchard including some more unusual trees like medlar and cherry plum.  We have been working with a landscape architect from Swindon Borough Council, funded by the Great Western Community Forest, to make a plan to create even more woodland in the school grounds.  It is envisaged the playground will become a series of woodland clearings where children can play, relax and learn in a woodland setting.  The plan will be gradually developed over the coming years.

Last term the year 5's Gardening Gang worked hard to maintain the trees, removing weeds, straightening the trees up and replacing guards and replanting any that didn't survive.  They also planted lots of vegetable seeds in the poly-tunnel and some potatoes, garlic onions and radishes in the vegetable beds.  The vegetable beds have been well used and are tired now.  We are lucky to have received grant aid from the Wiltshire Gardens Trust to replace them.  Volunteers will help us to do that in May.  The Family Gardening Club wasn't so busy in the cold weather but we did manage to clean out, put up hooks and organise our new gardening shed,  One grandparent came and planted over 100 daffodils in the wood with his grand-daughter.  He also brought us our first tomato plants to put in the bed in the poly-tunnel.  On the last meeting before Easyter we had an Easter Egg hunt in the wood where all the eggs were found and eaten very quickly!  More families are welcome to join the gardening club after school on Thursdays for about an hour. 

The Nursery and Day Care all do Forest School every week.  In the woodland they have been hearing traditional stories and playing games based on them.  The most popular activities are playing with the mud kitchen, running away from witches and hiding, climbing trees, exploring and playing on the rope swings.  The children have all grown in confidence in the wood so much and are now comfortable and play happily in all weathers.  As well as the stories last term we planted wild flower seeds in trays ready to share the plants with anyone willing to give them garden space.  The seeds were kindly given to us by John Ball who has an amazing wildflower garden and shares seeds and knowledge to encourage more butterfles and bees into Swindon.

Year 1 children visit the wood once in every season carrying out fun activities to bring classroom topics alive.  Last term the theme was "Goldilocks".  The children helped to make porridge on a fire which they enjoyed eating in the wood with a bit of golden syrup.  It was like baby bear's porridge and was "just right"!  They explored the wood finding materials to make new a new chair for baby bear or a better bed.  They used great imagination, some even making huge beds they could get in themselves!  As they do the activities and play the children are developing a connection with nature and learning many important life skills.


Ruth Parsons