West Lothian College’s Childhood Practice team launched their new Forest Classroom last week, inviting Primary 1 from St Anthony’s RC Primary School to try out the new facilities.
The launch saw 15 pupils from the Armadale based primary school go in to the college and work with Preparation for Childcare, Level 4, 5 and 6 Childhood Practice and PDA Education Support Assistance students on a range of outdoor tasks and challenges including den building, making bird feeders, exploring the area for insects and fire lighting.
The area has been developed by the college in response to the Scottish Government’s agenda to incorporate outdoor learning in to the curriculum for young people, recognising the many benefits it can have on learning and development and the opportunities it creates that are not always possible within a traditional classroom environment.
The Forest Classroom is part of the Livingston campus and has been developed over the past 5 months by the college’s Childhood Practice and Facilities teams. The area has been made accessible and secure and the facilities team have worked on creating seating areas, mud kitchens and a fire area using natural and recycled materials.
Anna Styles, Depute Head of Childhood Practice said: “It was great to be able to welcome the pupils and teachers from St Anthony’s RC Primary School to our brand new Forest Classroom last week. Our students loved being able to put theory into practice, utilising the skills they have developed and to see first hand how engaging and educational outdoor lessons can be for young people.
The ethos of the Forest Classroom encourages children to respect the natural environment while playing and provides the students with the opportunity to recognise and support the young children’s next steps in learning. We work in partnership with our colleagues at West Lothian Council and look forward to welcoming many more early years and primary groups in to our Forest Classroom.”
Stephanie Sloan, Class Teacher at St Anthony's Primary School added: "The children thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the West Lothian College Forest Classroom. The primary 1 pupils had an extremely positive learning experience and engaged in a variety if well thought out, open ended activities. The Forest Classroom provided the children with a stimulating and natural environment for learning to take place."
The pupils were very positive about the experience with one of the pupils, Ethan, saying: “It was great learning in the forest classroom. I liked making the salt dough faces and learning how to be safe around a fire.”