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The Wells Free School

Outdoor Learning

Throughout the school year every child in years R-4 experiences a term of Muddy Mondays and Woodwork Wednesdays.

Muddy Mondays focuses on plants, their value and use to us in and around the school and the wider community including our local wildlife. While doing this we have cultivated green spaces around school by making use of the balconies and planters. Children learn to identify, grow and look after plants. As a result of all their hard work, we have seen an increase in the types of invertebrates found throughout the grounds. This shows the children that even in an urban setting, we can have a profound impact on the wider community.

In 2023, we took part in the Royal Tunbridge Wells in Bloom competition and won a Gold Award for the "Creative Use of an Urban Space".

Woodwork Wednesdays focuses on learning how to use tools, safely and successfully, resulting in being able to make and create a variety of items. We also upcycle gifted items for use around the school, encouraging our children to be environmentally aware and follow the guidelines of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

In February 2024, the whole school participated in the "Big Bird School Watch" for the RSPB helping to inform the charity about the status of our local birds. We celebrated our feathered friends with stories, woodwork projects and other activities.


Forest School

We aim to give every child the opportunity to experience Forest School during their time at The Wells Free School. Year 5 & 6 have a half day of Forest School each week. There are also opportunities for other children in other year groups to experience Forest School as an intervention.

The idea of Forest School was developed in Scandinavia in the 1950s and is a programme of repeated visits to a woodland area.  The children are enabled to have freedom to develop their own learning.  The adult’s role is as a facilitator to provide resources and teaching skills by modelling good practice in skills acquisition.  The ethos of Forest School is relaxed, non-threatening and child-led with a strong emphasis on allowing the children to have uninterrupted time to become completely absorbed (flow) in what they are doing.

Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

At The Wells Free School we run an Urban Forest School. We also work closely with the rangers of the common and have our own area of the common to undertake conservation projects on.

Forest School Weather Conditions

In keeping with traditional practices of Forest Schools the philosophy is ‘there is no such thing as bad weather’, we just encourage appropriate clothing to match the weather conditions. Children who are dressed appropriately for inclement weather such as wet and cold, do enjoy their time in the outdoors.

To enable the children to experience all the wonders of the seasons Forest School sessions happen all year round, in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

The health, safety and well-being of the children and staff are always of paramount concern during sessions, but the weather can be difficult to predict on any given day, especially during the winter months.  Sometimes the weather predicted may not materialise, while in other cases, weather could change quickly over the course of the session. 

Occasionally, and at the Forest School Leader's discretion, it may be necessary to shorten the session if weather conditions change or worsen, or hold the session in another part of the school grounds.

Forest School define extreme weather as:

• Sustained freezing temperatures for duration of session.
• High winds (gusting/gale force winds).
• Lightning.