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Reception year at forest school(20 Posts)
Hi all, I’m new to this. Does anyone have any experience of sending their child to a stand alone setting, specifically forest school, for their child’s reception year? We are considering sending our son to the local forest school for his reception year, he’ll then continue into year 1 at the primary across the road. The forest school in question are Ofsted outstanding, regularly take children for their reception year and have the type of ethos I strongly believe is best for learning- childled/risky play etc.
I have worked in education for 15+ years so not looking for peoples opinions on this decision. Anybody out there done this with their child?How did it work out? Did they struggle settling into year 1?
The only thing I would worry about is getting a place in year 1 if the school is generally full.
My main concern would be getting a place in year 1. They won’t hold the place so oh will rely on there being a vacancy in year 1
Unless it’s a private primary, I’d be concerned you wouldn’t get a space in year 1.
Apart from that I know a few people who kept their kids at a similar sounding pre-school before going into year 1 at primary (a few years ago, before it was possible to defer summer borns). It was a very tough transition. By then, most kids at the primary could read and write well, and were very familiar with the specific phonics system that continued in yr1. The incoming kids were way behind and it was hard for them.
Reception year now isn’t a play year like it used to be. The expectations of the curriculum are high and it might not be easy to catch up, I’m seeing this now with a friend whose child did a kindergarten year abroad, she couldn’t cope in yr1 and luckily the school agreed for her to go into Reception (summer birthday).
If you are certain the forest school keeps pace academically with the mainstream primary then it’s probably fine. I think he might lose more socially though than he gains, friendships will have been formed for a year at the primary. Can’t you do risky play etc. at home?
I’ll have to talk through the phonics and reading system they have in place, I’m guessing they’ll have to have something as both settings will be following the EYFS. Although you are right different approaches to phonics could hold him back. He is summerborn, so I may look into flexi schooling between the two.
I don't have experience of forest school, but having just gone through reception with my son. I would be very reluctant to miss this year. It is a year that in my opinion is invaluable in what the children learn in terms of phonic, reading, writing, etc. but also getting used to their environment, building friendships, learning how things work in that particular school, building a sense of pride and belonging to that school. I would worry if my child spends their reception year at another mainstream school. Some children adapt much quicker than others but if your child is not one that manages change well or that doesn't easily fit in, then it might be very difficult for them in Year 1. This may not be a worry for you, but definitely consider all aspects
Have you considered sending him to reception year a year later, as he is summerborn? You could then do the reception forest school year, and then reception year at the primary school.
If your DC is a summer born, why not enrol them at forest school as a nursery pupil and then send them to Reception in the mainstream school the following year?
Not wishing to sound arsey, but if you say I have worked in education for 15+ years so not looking for peoples opinions on this decision. then I don’t really understand what you do want from people?
(Sounds fabulous to me, but I don’t have any experience.)
I’m not sure what in your experience of education is driving the decision, but flexi schooling with another setting might have a really negative impact on your son, never fully being ‘in’ either community. So much about Reception is about the community life of the class and the school, the topic that leads to a special class-based activity, the class chicks hatching when he’s the only one not there that day, the assembly where his name is read out for something, but he’s not there that afternoon.
Can’t you defer him from primary school as he’s summer born, do the year of forest school and then put him into full time Reception at the primary?
I mean this nicely, but you need to think about your son as a social being in a community, and in a primary where he’ll ultimately be spending another six years, rather than looking at one educational approach for Reception being your ideal.
This only came to light yesterday when he went for a settling in session at the forest school, he will be spending his nursery year there. My husband and I have been to 4-5 stay and plays with him in the last few months and just loved the place (they are closed one day a week to provide training sessions).
While I was there I got talking to another parent who mentioned her child would be staying to complete their reception year there, along with 4 other reception aged children (only one deferring entry). This is what has prompted my thread.
I have considered the social aspects, and obviously don’t want him to be at any disadvantage, but in the same breath I see the pressure children and teachers are under in our current schooling system. Our catchment school is three form entry, however I’m not sure if they stay in the same class group throughout the years or whether it’s mixed up each year. Obviously we’d have to factor this into our decision.
To answer @BiscuitDrama
I was looking for comments from parents who have sent their child to a different setting for their reception year, as there must be some out there, if there are 5 children just at this one setting. Obviously, I’ll be speaking to the parents of the children at the setting/ forest school practitioners further about this, but these parents will not have the advantage of hindsight. Where as other people on here may?
Thanks for all of the advice so far, there’s definitely a lot questions to ask/ aspects to consider before we make a decision.
I deferred my reception child. Personally I would use the forest School as a nursery class, then regular school deferred reception. That also has the benefit of applying for a place at the correct time.
Can’t you just stay on at the Forest school?
If he is already doing a year there for preschool are you sure he will benefit from another year full time for reception? My youngest ds went to a fabulous preschool, not full time forest school but a similar ethos and free access to an amazing outdoor space as well as a more typical indoor preschool setting. He loved it and learnt a lot but he was ready for school and I don’t think he would have enjoyed another year there.
I see the pressure children and teachers are under in our current schooling system
And I’d say this is the best argument not to send him somewhere else for his Reception year. The level and expectation kicks up every year, it’s a noticeable jump in yr1. Having missed a whole year of the foundations of phonics, writing and maths your DS will be at a disadvantage, UNLESS he’s one of those kids that just picks up everything really easily and is happy to do lots of extra at home/over the holidays to catch up over the first term or so. Remember all the others will have had daily practice for a year, by the end of my DC1’s Reception some kids were writing a full side of A4. In my DC2’s a chunk of kids aren’t far off free reading. It was a huge shock to me when I entered the system to be honest! I can’t imagine them dropping into yr1 seamlessly after missing that first year.
From experience of several kids in primary my advice is either work with the system you’re in, or get out of it and seek an alternative one. It’s really hard to be half in, half out.
If you want him to have a lovely extra year of free play without any pressure, defer him and give him an extra year at preschool, and go into Reception as one of the eldest.
I really can’t see an advantage to what you are proposing to your DS with doing his first year of school in another setting.
But will you get a Year One place "at the primary school across the road?"
They will be full of the children who were there for reception. Assuming its State, even if you get allocated a place for Reception (if you apply in January) they won't hold it open for him till year one, but you know that right? If it's private, I imagine they can't afford to leave a space open either.
Thanks for all of your advice, we’ve come to the conclusion that spending his reception year at forest school isn’t in his best interest long term. I think the fantasy of it is probably better than the reality...sadly
are you not interested in deferring him then?
My summer born child found it very hard to give up the afternoon nap once they got to reception. They come home and practically fall onto the carpet, to sleep, despite a 7pm bedtime. If I had my time again, I would defer and use nursery. They missed out nursery anyway because the LEA rules then meant that there was never a term time when they had reached the rising 4 required birthday.
In my view it would be brilliant if school start was age six, with two years learning through play at a preschool setting. Kids would be so much more ready to learn and if a lot of Europe is anything to go by, still end up at the same level! If my remaining pre-schooler doesn’t seem ready I’ll defer her. Four is still so little!