The University of Northampton has developed a Forest School within the Park Campus site, for use as a learning outside classroom venue for local schools and early years’ settings.
Forest Schools aim to tackle the lack of access to play spaces and the natural environment, by allowing children to learn within a safe, natural, woodland environment. A broad curriculum can be taught in this woodland setting, allowing children, young people and adults the opportunity to appreciate their natural environment.
One of the only universities in the country to have this facility, the University of Northampton’s Forest School, entitled Forest@UN, is run as a social enterprise.
Forest@UN is available to be used by education establishments free of charge, while students at the University on a wide range of courses will also gain a taste of the Forest School experience, by volunteering during schools’ visits.
Forest@UN has already been used by students from Eastfield Academy, who will be making several return visits over the next term.
Chris Hill, Headteacher at Eastfield Academy, said: “It has been fantastic to have the opportunity to be involved in this unique experience.
“Having a safe environment for our staff and pupils to use for their Forest School sessions has meant that we have been able to give this experience to a wider number of pupils.
“We are working as a school to ensure that the experiences from Forest@UN have an impact back in school both academically and socially. We have built Forest Schools into a key part of our curriculum and have taken the experience past early years further up the school to the clear benefit of all involved.
“We really want to keep this place secret; we’d love to have it all to ourselves!”
Ken Bland, Head of Education, Children and Young People at the University of Northampton, said: “The University of Northampton is proud to launch this social enterprise as we see this as a way of building on our existing strong links with schools and early years settings, and allowing children and their parents to discover the value of playing in a natural environment. Students on courses also benefit as they can work with children when they visit the Forest School site.”