Hartlepool pupils are learning in the great outdoors

Forest School fun at Summerhill Country Park.
Forest School fun at Summerhill Country Park.

Schools are being urged to boost pupils’ learning by taking advantage of a vast 100-acre classroom in Hartlepool.

Summerhill Country Park is accredited as a Forest School, a concept that was originally developed for pre-school children in Scandinavia.

Studies there have shown that children attending Forest School subsequently start school with strong social and communication skills and generally have high self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.

The Summerhill Forest School offers nursery, reception and primary pupils chance to take part in outdoor sessions lasting two hours.

A range of topics can be covered during sessions, including literacy, numeracy, shapes, spaces, measures, the world of plants and animals, exploring materials and media, imagination and creativity.

Sessions are led by a team of Forest School practitioners and assistants who have all received specialist training.

Summerhill Country Park was once a network of eight rather featureless farmers’ fields, but over the years it has been transformed into an important Local Nature Reserve that is now home to a diverse range of plants and animals.

Tens of thousands of trees have been planted to create new woodlands alongside meadows and wetlands.

The Forest School is also looking to make contact with local families via the weekend Woodlanders group and the “Woodland Tots” story book trail.

For more information about Summerhill Forest School, including session times and prices, call (01429) 284584.

Outreach Officer John Swallow said: “The 100-acre site offers children a chance to take part in a range of activities that they might otherwise never experience in their early lives.

“As well as providing a standard set of Forest School sessions, we can also tailor sessions to groups’ particular needs.”