Children at the Buchan School and Nursery are being encouraged to step outside and explore their surroundings thanks to a unique initiative.
Buchan Bushcraft, a weekly programme for children aged two to six in the Buchan Nursery, Pre-Prep 1 (Reception) and Pre-Prep 2 (National Curriculum Year 1), gets pupils out in the open discovering the world around them, whatever the weather.
One Level 3 Forest School Practitioners work with the pupils each week, alongside their class teacher, in varying outdoor environments. Younger children start off with an adult-initiated activity before heading off to explore and develop their own interests in the outdoors, whereas older pupils are encouraged to take their learning further, developing the programme in their own ways to enhance their experience.
The emphasis is that children are out in all weathers unless there is a risk to their safety. Throughout the sessions the children are learning to risk assess, work together, develop skills and discover the natural environment around them.
Nursery pupils have been exploring muddy puddles and learning about seasonal changes in woodlands, forests and beaches around the Island. They know that 'edge means danger' and can talk confidently on how to keep themselves safe near roads, open water and steep hills.
Pre-Prep 1 pupils have this year directed their own learning around important local and global issues such as littering, recycling, plastic waste and animal conservation, including the care of hedgehogs. They have explored and planted bulbs, created their own gingerbread man recipe from discovered materials, and developed knot tying skills when tasked with making wands.
Pre-Prep 2 children have enjoyed designing and making structures on varying scales to support their work in the classroom. They have built large dens with wood, collected as a team, and made houses for fairies and 'mini-beasts'.
Janet Billingsley Evans, Head of The Buchan School, said:
'Our exciting Buchan Bushcraft programme is unique to our school and nursery. It is a wonderful initiative which develops a range of important skills including observation, listening, teamworking abilities, communication, self-confidence and social skills. Importantly, an interest and understanding of the natural world is formed, from which children's interest in caring for nature is sparked.
'Pupils learn in their own way as there is no right or wrong way to what they do, just as long as they can keep themselves safe as they learn, which is a skill they acquire and develop as they continue to participate in the sessions.
'What is lovely to see is that the children have formed strong friendships with each other, understanding how important it is in the wider world to stick together, to help, listen and learn from each other. It is vital to encourage curiosity, play and exploration outdoors in the technology-led world we live in, and we are delighted to be able to offer this programme to our young pupils.'