OP takes outdoor learning to Primary Schools throughout Yorkshire

Girl and boy making tea outside with forest school practitioner

OP Frances Plant (97-05) has successfully combined two of her passions – the natural world and education – to launch a forest school business with Pocklington School current parent, Karen Griggs.

Old Forge York Forest School offers tailormade forest school sessions to Primary Schools and Early Years Education providers in the Yorkshire region. With the forest school ethos of child-centred learning through play and hands-on experiences in a natural outdoor setting, Frances takes her expertise as a Forest School Practitioner into schools, working with teachers prior to each session to ensure she compliments classroom learning and builds on each school’s curriculum.

The sessions aim to be fun and exciting as well as educational through activities such as learning to use hammers, building shelters, hunting for minibeasts and identifying trees in the local area.

Frances said: “The children gain confidence with hands-on skills they wouldn't normally be able to access in the classroom environment and the feedback from teachers, pupils and parents has been excellent so far.

“The sessions also have a positive effect on the children’s mental wellbeing, something which has been vitally important during the lockdowns and will continue to be so with the current uncertainties set to continue for some time.”

Karen Griggs, the owner of Old Forge York Forest School said: “Enabling children to discover and be delighted by our natural world is key to developing a generation who respect and love the world around them. Being in nature and being with nature is calming and joyful. If we can teach children this from a young age, they will want to spend time away from screens and learn that outdoor play makes them feel good.”

To complement the forest school business, Karen and Frances have developed a range of natural play boxes and mini den building kits, so that families can have a forest school experience at home. The idea for this came in the last lockdown when Karen made one as a gift for another family. The mum posted a thank you on Instagram and Karen was inundated with requests from other mums desperate for their children, who were stuck indoors, to have access to nature.  Tried and tested by Frances and her own family, the packs have been developed into a series of craft and design boxes for children. Each box is tailored with a specific theme, so that parents can choose the one that fits their child’s interests.

The forest play packs and mini den building kits are available at www.forestcraftandplay.com. Further information about the Old Forge York Forest School can be found on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/oldforgeyorkforestschool.