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Forest school for some but not all.

(71 Posts)
PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 10:33:38

My daughter is in reception. It has come to light (via other parents not any communication from the school) that 10 children from across reception year have been chosen to do six weeks (one afternoon a week) of forest school. The children have been chosen apparently because the school feels these children will benefit most from these sessions. I spoke to the head about this, as I feel that a) a brilliant opportunity is being denied to 50 children from this year group and b) the school should have let all parents know this was happening and why.

Just gauging opinions really. Can the school run this for some children based on what seems like basically a fairly vague assessment of need (no SEN or pupil premium involved as far as I can tell.

CocktailQueen Tue 05-Jan-16 10:35:42

Sounds unfair to me, but I suppose you don't know the whole story. Could you ask the teacher to clarify?

exLtEveDallas Tue 05-Jan-16 10:37:56

'As far as you can tell'

Unless you work at the school, then you can't tell. Neither should you be able to tell. If the school feels these 10 children will benefit, then that is their decision. It is nothing to do with anyone else. Accept the decision and stop stamping your feet because your child has not been included.

EmmaGellerGreen Tue 05-Jan-16 10:39:28

Yes, of course they can and often do. The children will have been identified (professionally. not vaguely) as having some additional need, e.g. improved social skills, communication etc that a nurture group type intervention will help with. You can not possibly know the needs of all of the children. A small nurture group forest school programme is tailored towards the needs of the children in the group and is usually different from whole class sessions.

TheoriginalLEM Tue 05-Jan-16 10:39:52

it is most likely due to funding. Forest school wont come cheap. So rather some than none.

maybe the pta could fund some more places. Im sure they would be most grateful for your help in organising some fund raising.

my dd went in one of these sessions, it was great for her confidence. She was selected on that basis.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 05-Jan-16 10:40:20

DD2's primary school does something similar. Everyone does get a turn at Forest School eventually, but it is definitely aimed at children who struggle with a regular classroom setting and they get to do it much more regularly.

I can see both sides of that argument. DD2 thinks it's extremely unfair, because she loves messing around outside. Equally, we spend weeks as a family every year on a campsite/walking in the woods and she also gets loads of opportunity to do stuff like that with Scouts. And if the children who really need it are able to improve their concentration/behaviour as a result of Forest School, everyone benefits. Hard to explain without opening a can of worms, though.

CocktailQueen Tue 05-Jan-16 10:46:17

At my dn's school they have a forest school teacher in come in one day a week and she works with different classes in turn so everyone gets a chance to do forest school activities outside in the playground/school grounds. Could be a compromise...

SavoyCabbage Tue 05-Jan-16 10:51:34

I don't think the school can tell all of the parents about everything. My niece is in a 'maths club' as she is struggling with maths.

The school didn't write to all of the other parents saying

'Marisa, David-Kim, Joe and Lucy are behind with their maths so we've asked them to come in fifteen minutes early on a Wednesday lunchtime for extra help but we are calling it a maths club so they don't feel it's a bad thing.'

They just crack on. There is so much stuff going on all of the time. When your child says Lionel gets to go to forest school and I don't you say 'ohh, that's nice. Lionel will love that won't he! I wonder if he will collect acorns like we did when we were walking back from the dentist'.

museumum Tue 05-Jan-16 10:52:03

It sounds like a pilot to me. Maybe only one teacher is trained or training? They can't launch in with sixty kids!
I would hope that every child will get the chance eventually but I don't see an issue with targeting the children who might most benefit to begin with.
If you and your dd is so keen then why not contact the school to offer support for the concept (not complaint) and tell them you're fully behind the idea and really hope it can be rolled out wider in time.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 05-Jan-16 10:52:33

Possibly one of the staff is doing the training / gaining accreditation and it is a trial group.
If you value it that much why don't you run your own on the weekend? Lots of stuff online about things to do.

PatriciaHolm Tue 05-Jan-16 11:51:01

"no SEN or pupil premium involved as far as I can tell."

Both of which are irrelevant in the context of forest school anyway. They will have chosen the 10 because, as you yourself say, they will get the most out of them - there may be a plethora of reasons as to why, none of which are SEN or pupil premium related.

Good schools run smaller sessions tailored for pupils needs all the time; could be support or extension reading, writing, maths, handwriting, confidence building, whatever. If the forest school proves a success, then maybe they will expand it to all - but you are going to have to get used to some things happening for some kids and not for others, and to not being told why some pupils are selected for some things and not others. It's not really anything to do with you specifically why little Freddie would benefit from forest school.

noramum Tue 05-Jan-16 12:56:54

"no SEN or pupil premium involved as far as I can tell."

Unless you know the personal details of all 60 children you can't even guess. While some children may be clearly SEN or even pupil premium there is a huge grey sector where anything could be possible. And lots of schools take a group of children out for a session to improve lots of areas in small groups.

It may be that only 10 can work for the area, it may be that there is a specific project only a handful can do each time. It may be that some children need this for whatever reason more than Miss Perfect-in-everything.

DD has forest school, sometimes a full term, sometimes every other week, some year once a months. This year we pay £40 as in Juniors the Y4 get a consultant from the council's wildlife/park/nature reserve to come and do it in a scientific way. While Reception/Y1 was very much playing in the mud this year it is more about biology curriculum.

A neigbouring school has a huge forests school setting, permanently with somebody coming in 3 days a week. She never takes more than 15 children per session. So there are lots of reasons a school is doing it without taking all 60.

Ginmummy1 Tue 05-Jan-16 14:50:58

I think the OP is being treated a little harshly. My DD has done 10 weeks of Forest School in Reception (a group of 10) but everyone in the class will get the same opportunity by the end of the Reception year. If OP has heard of it being offered to all the class at other schools, but for OP's child's school it is for selected pupils only, I can see the reason for the questions.

A bit of extra maths support or specific pupil premium targeted activity is one thing, but forest school is a popular and trendy thing these days and plenty of children without additional needs get it for 'free', so it is an understandable reaction to the selective approach at the OP's school.

That said, the responses make a lot of sense, and it is probably just something to accept on this occasion.

PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 15:06:23

Thanks GinMummy, and yes exactly, targeted stuff like extra maths or reading recovery is obviously fine. I've come across it many times over the years and have no issue whatsoever with children getting extra help with needed. It was because forest school would be beneficial to all that I was interested as to why it isn't being offered to the whole class.

Patricia - I do not need to get used to anything. I also have a child in year 2 and 4 so I'm not a new Mum worried about my special snowflake. So perhaps tone down the patronising a tad eh.

For what it's worth I would be querying this if my child had been selected as it's a general shouldn't the school be inclusive with this type of activity concern.

Obviously I don't know all the details and will be asking the school to clarify the reasons behind selection. After barely two terms in with these kids I would question their ability to make this kind of call on who is most in need of forest school unless it turns out to be a SEN, or pupil premium thing.

It could also as some have said be a trial thing, and yes suggesting we fund raise for more sessions is definitely a good idea so I'll be offering that support.

Sorry for the drip feed but the other annoyance is that I applied to flexi school my middle child when in reception so that I could take him to a registered forest school one afternoon a week. This request was denied, and I was told he would miss valuable education time, so that's why this is a tad annoying. Also as a Mum with CFS and aspergers it's tricky for me to get mine outside so that's why I query on what basis need has been assessed.

PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 15:07:48

Eve Dallas I wasn't stamping my feet, actually I was trying to get perspective on whether or not this was usual practise. What a lovely response :-(

chantico Tue 05-Jan-16 15:16:49

It does sound as if you don't have issue with pupils getting intervention X for some issues, but are questioning why intervention Y should be available.

The only answer is that if the staff can be trusted to identify those for X, they can be trusted for Y too.

And two terms would usually be plenty of time for school-based assessments.

If you do not trust the school, then you might be better off seeking one that suits you better. Now, that is possibly not going to be achievable depending on your logistics and the supply of school places in your area. But if you are not happy with the school, sometimes it's better to get on with establishing what other choices there are.

Especially as what you are questioning seems to go to the heart of professional standards and competency.

exLtEveDallas Tue 05-Jan-16 15:19:34

But you aren't entitled to the reasons behind selection - it is no business of yours. The school doesn't need to 'clarify'- they know the kids, you don't.

What are you going to do if the teacher or HT says they can't tell you? Will you accept that?

PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 15:57:52

Chantico, I see your point I guess I thought things like maths and reading issues are measurable and quantifiable. Whereas x child needs this for confidence (which seems to be the reasoning) seems harder to gauge tbh. A typical example of this is the loudest, most challenging behaviour seems to warrant more additional support than a child who is incredibly anxious but keeps it all inside and breaks down at home.

I don't have an issue with the school generally. I have a SEN child in the school and we have worked together successfully and improved his school experience. I also volunteer one day a week to help with reading and key words across two year groups. So on the whole have a good relationship with them. Does querying one decision mean I should switch schools. Really?

Eve Dallas, I won't be expecting specific children's needs explain to me as that isn't my business.

If your child's school ran a school trip for only half of a year group would that be acceptable? To me this feels like that rather than an intervention group.

I will be talking to the head in the am and my main objective after considering the opinions here will be whether funding can be raised to make this something all the children access too.

exLtEveDallas Tue 05-Jan-16 16:06:30

But it's not a school trip and it's not half the year. It's 10 pupils out of 60 for 6 afternoon sessions out of 35.

For reasons you don't know or need to know. So what will you say if the HT says they can't tell you why those 6% were chosen. Will you accept that?

chantico Tue 05-Jan-16 16:10:54

What may seem obscure to another parent about what happened in the classroom and what pupils need, can be blatantly obvious to an experienced teacher.

If you do not trust the staff to be making well-founded judgements, by all means raise with the head. But when you are (no doubt politely) told that it's none of your business, you will have to think about voting with your feet.

Because you really do not seem to have any faith in the staff's professionalism. Not because of one intervention with one group of pupils. But because your reaction to it shows such a low opinion of the teachers' abilities to assess and intervene.

irvine101 Tue 05-Jan-16 16:13:48

My ds's school had extra lessons for children who was boarder line level2/3 before YR2 SATS. Are you ok with that if your child wasn't selected? There was no issue among parents at our school.
Life isn't always fair.

irvine101 Tue 05-Jan-16 16:15:50

border

PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 16:18:05

Gosh Mumsnet isn't for the faint hearted is it. I hear the collective view and get that I'm being unreasonable and need to accept that this is the schools decision.

I actually thought that posting on Mumsnet and getting other viewpoints to see if I was being unreasonable was a good plan, rather than getting het up and not considering that I might be wrong about this one.

Chantico, with all due respect I will decide whether this means I don't trust the school and I do trust them generally, am I not allowed to query without it meaning I don't trust them. Leaving school because of this would seem like a massive overreaction to me.

On a side note, why is Mumsnet so mean? I thought I'd politely asked a questions, expecting polite responses (which obviously lots of you gave me) whether disagreeing with me or not. Is there really any need to make me feel like a completely unreasonable bitch over this?

PurpleElla Tue 05-Jan-16 16:19:40

Also for additional information I have ASD so for me a forum where I can gauge opinion is useful as I am aware that injustice is a trigger for me and can lead to me reacting incorrectly.

Clarella Tue 05-Jan-16 16:21:54

I haven't read the thread and I'm sorry if there's been bitching hmm

I suspect it's a funding thing for children with additional needs or identified / looked after etc.

I agree it's not totally fair but at the same time I know it's common for staff to identify different children for things eg gifted and talented.

Sometimes it's a trial and if successful schools try to roll it out further if funding allows.

I think you can easily ask the school about it, in a non confrontational way. Express an interest.

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