Our lives have changed considerably over the past eleven months and we have had to make huge adaptations to them. Keeping connected with friends and family has been paramount for most and we, at Sussex FSA, have been working hard to keep connected with the Forest School Leaders in our local communities. 

We regret we have had to postpone scheduled courses and events for the coming months and have successfully adapted to online Zoom meetings. It has been welcomed by many to have the opportunity to share experiences during these times and also to begin to plan for how Forest School can be delivered safely when schools go back. Some leaders have been delivering Forest School to keyworker and vulnerable children during the lockdown and have been able to share their safe practice during this time.

The following is a summary of the information that was shared by Forest School leaders at one of our  Zoom meetings.

Those who have been working during the lockdown have:

  • ​Implimented regular and thorough handwashing routines with an adult supervising.

  • Used tippy taps onsite to provide running water or used a solar tap.

  • Supplied no food or drink. Children provide their own.

  • Used resources and equipment from their setting only. Children do not bring anything, other than their food and drink, in from home eg. toys.

  • Thoroughly wash tools and equipment at the end of each day.

  • Have not  used hammocks, ropes or equipment that  are used near the face eg. mirrors, binoculars, magnifying glasses.

  • Have used occasional fires for activities such as charcoal and natural dyes, but not for cooking activities.
  • Asked for only one parent/carer to drop off and collect the child/ren.

  • Staggered drop off and collection times.

  • Updated existing risk assessments to include COVID-19 safe practice, in line with Government Guidance, NHS Guidance and National Forest School Perspective. It is important to note that this guidance is changing regularly and that risk assessments will need to be updated in accordance with these changes.

Forest School leaders have observed:

  •  Anxiety levels have been noticeably lower outside in the Forest School setting.

  •  The holistic benefits of working with smaller groups.

  •  That social distancing is not possible, especially with very young children and have put measures in place to reduce risks, inline with Government  and NHS Guidelines.

The following are comments that leaders shared and may help you as you consider your safe practice. Every setting will be different and will manage their sessions in slightly different ways. :

  • Have a set of tools, mud kitchen implements, resources for each bubble of children and clean them thoroughly at the end of each session OR

  • Only have one bubble of children a day and clean the equipment thoroughly before its used by another bubble of children on another day. 

  • Try not to project your own anxiety, as children can easily pick up on this.

  • Will our insurance still cover us? 

  • Fear of being sued.

  • Once we are back things will become more evident - what works and what doesnt work.

  • When writing risk assessments, write what you can acheive.

  • Should practitioners use the tracking app to be aware of hotspots? 

  • Have a set of PPE on site incase someone on site displays COVID symptoms during a session and know how to deal with this situation in line with Government/NHS Guidelines.

  • Concerns about getting enough water for handwashing to some Forest School sites.

  • Checking with landowners if you are able to start back eg. some councils are currently not letting sites be used.

  • PDF - How to Make a Tippy Tap

Please remember we are sharing ideas and comments from our meeting, we are not giving advice. Please follow Government Guidelines and NHS Guidelines and check regularly for updates to these. The Out of School Alliance has also been working hard to summarise relevant guidance for providers of Out of School sessions during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since the appointment of Nic Harding - Projects Officer,  the FSA have had the capacity to deliver  a more client based service, which is equipped to serve our community . At this particular time many of us may feel their support and guidance particularly helpful , through the provision  of regularly updated information highlighting the relevant Government and NHS Guidelines and  the provision of a resource that enables Forest School Leaders to consider the UK COVID-19 Government Guidance with in their safe practice (this document is available to members only)  and supersedes the earlier COVID-19 risk assessment template. Both members and non-members have also been able to connect via Zoom meetings and webinars. They have also recently released a video illustrating the multiple benefits of Forest School - ideal for sharing with clients/headteachers/governors.

https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/ncorona-covid-19-and-forest-school/

Why not take this opportunity to join, non working members membership is reduced.  There are many benefits to your membership, in addition to the support it offers and the community that you will become part of. Take a look at the link below:

https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/membership-options-page/

We do provide a mentoring service for anyone who would like some support - for further information take a look at our mentoring page

 

COVID-19 Support & Information