Goddard Park Community Primary School, Park North, Swindon

Woodland Learning has a very long association with this school having worked on various projects for over 20 years! The trees that are now used for Forest School were planted by Ruth, the children, staff and parents 20 years ago! About 8 years ago a family learning project made a storysack for the book “Harry’s Hazelnut” written by Ruth. The book and storysack were published and are now used to encourage woodland learning across the country!

At Forest School at Goddard Park children will benefit from developing skills including team working and relationships, imagination, practical skills and connecting with nature. The sessions take place in the wonderful school wood and are for children from 2 years to 11 years. The sessions are ably supported by school staff whose experience and enthusiasm helps to celebrate the children’s successes. Ten staff achieved their Introduction to Forest School Level 1 awards last year.

Day Care and Nursery children visit the school wood every week.  They soon become confident and are happy playing in the natural environment which provides endless opportunities to explore.  The children learn to take risks, develop their imagination, practice language and communication skills, connect with nature and have great fun.  Tree climbing, playing on the rope swing and the mud kitchen are the most popular.

Year 1 children all visit the school wood and Cuckoo Pen plantation in Coleshill to have fun, learn about nature, develop practical skills and social skills and mostly to help their literacy projects come to life.  In 2016 the children all took part in pirate training!  They followed treasure trails, planted sunflowers for parrot food, made walking sticks and learned to move about with an eye patch on and built ships.  At Cuckoo Pen they helped to save dragons by making them food and homes.  They kept their own energy levels up by eating lunch cooked on a fire.

Forest School is very closely linked to growing vegetables at this school with all the children taking part in both activities. The children do lots of gardening in year 5. Last year the pupils won the Swindon Allotment and Leisure Gardens School Garden of the year trophy. The children attended the Swindon Allotment Show to collect their trophy and had a great day out. Harvested vegetables are often cooked over a fire in the wood.  

There are two after school clubs at school.  On Mondays children from Key Stage 2 come to experience Forest School at Woodland Club.  On Thursdays Families stay for Gardening club where they learn and share new skills and help to grow vegetables which they then have a share of to take home.

Using the school grounds to support the children’s learning and improve their wellbeing is an important part of school life. In 2015 new woodlands, hedgerows and an orchard were planted to provide even more opportunities.  This year volunteers from businesses will be helping us to build new raised beds funded by the Wiltshire Gardens Trust.  There are exciting plans in place to provide a woodland framework for all outdoor play and learning at the school.  These have been put together with help from the Great Western Community Forest and Swindon Borough Council.

The Children say:

I think the woodlands was fun. I experienced new things and I felt like I could be myself. Zahra

When I'm outside in the woodlands it makes me feel happy especially when it rains because it feels cosy under the hut whilst we drink our hot chocolate. Sean

I enjoy playing games like hide and seek. My favourite is climbing trees because I like the view when I'm up high. C J