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Teesside children brave the elements to aid their development


A Teesside school has helped its children build their physical and mental resilience by learning through experience in the outdoors, after forming a partnership with a local charity.

Red House School, located in the heart of Norton village, Stockton on Tees, developed a series of outside learning sessions, assisted by one of its teachers undergoing a Forest School leader qualification.

Running for six weeks, the Forest Sessions were based on the principle of learning being initiated by children themselves in a woodland setting. Thanks to a partnership with Norton Sports Charity, participating pupils, all of whom were in Year 1 at Red House School, were able to use a new community forest facility.

The independent school for children aged 3-16 is also in the process of creating its own enchanting outdoor classroom so it can expand these activities in future.

Art teacher Claire Reily, the qualifying Forest School leader, explained: “As well as it being highly engaging, the benefits of outdoor learning include improvements to a child’s physical and mental health, as well as their social communication skills, fine motor skills, independence and resilience. It also helps children develop their own sense of personal responsibility and respect for the natural world.

“We really want to invest in helping our children develop in this way, so by the beginning of next year, we hope to have our outdoor classroom up and running in the Junior School, which will allow further exploration through outdoor learning.”

Activities as part of the Forest Sessions, which took place for just under two hours each Monday morning for six weeks, included building shelters, dens, storytelling, natural weaving, feeding a fire, messy play, bush craft and more. The sessions continued despite an appearance from the ‘Beast From The East’, and the snow added a new dimension to activities.

To find out more about Red House School and the sessions, please contact Claire Bellerby, Head of Admissions on 01642 558119. To find out more about the Forest School initiative, visit forestschoolassociation.org/.

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