Growing Forest School branches out into full-time environment

OLDHAM’S first independent Forest School is set to go full-time in September.

Eco Ed Forest School based at Tandle Hill Country Park, Royton, has been trading part-time for 18 months but will begin to offer weekly Forest School sessions for the local community.“Forest School is a child-centred, natured-based learning approach that focuses on developing the whole child,” explains Eco Ed owner and former primary teacher Mark Bumford.

“Forest school allows children the opportunity to develop communication and social skills, understand nature and learn how to appropriately manage risk through activities such as campfire cooking, den building, green woodworking, natural art and much more.”

In recent years, the UK’s Forest School movement has gained momentum in a bid to encourage children and adults back outdoors and reconnect with nature.

“The popularity of our sessions has grown considerably from the businesses humble beginnings to where we are today” added Mark.

“That’s down to our incredible collective of parents, who really understand how invaluable the sessions we deliver are, in a world where our children spend more time on screens than they do outside.”

Eco Ed’s sessions already take place in all seasons and weathers, except high winds which may cause old branches to become dislodged, with the company priding itself on being ‘Full Fat Forest School’.

This is a term to describe Forest Schools that closely follow the movements founding ethos of allowing children to completely lead the learning choosing how, what and who they learn with in a given session.

“No two sessions are the same,” said Mark. “That’s the beauty of Forest School.

“Let’s face it, the children’s ideas are far better than anything I could come up with.

“The real bread and butter of my role is to facilitate the learning by providing inspiring resources such as rope, tarpaulins, digging tools, buckets or real tools and providing then with just the right amount of support to take their learning to the next level.”

Eco Ed are to launch a twice weekly outdoor toddler group, a home education group and weekly walking club for all ages to complement their holiday club and weekend provision.

Local schools, nurseries and community groups are invited to contact Mark to discuss their interest in a partnership.

Eco Ed Forest School can be found on Facebook or alternatively contact Mark on 07890 865745.

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