School branches out with nursery
A pioneering forest school has branched out to open a full-time nursery.
Footprints On The Moon was first established in 2015, running a range of sessions for all ages at a number of outdoor locations in Northumberland.
The school set up a permanent base at Plessey Woods Country Park last year and opened its nursery, Footprints Outdoor Forest School Nursery, last month.
It is the first full-time forest school nursery in Northumberland, providing an innovative educational approach to play and learning.
Footprints founder Annie Blight said: “The children are involved in choosing what kind of adventure they would like to embark upon, which might involve making shelters where we can eat our lunch, navigating through the forest in search of streams, or finding and researching plants and mini-beasts.
“Without even realising it, these adventures will be developing every one of their skills as we negotiate, plan, implement, reflect, research, work together and get physically active.”
The children take part in a range of activities to develop their health, language and physical development, as well as having a garden area where they will grow produce.
The opening was marked by the planting of an apple tree by Northumberland County Council civic head Jeff Watson and cabinet member for local services Glen Sanderson.
Coun Sanderson said: “It is fantastic to see our country parks and open spaces being used in this way. They are a marvellous resource.”
The forest school has received support from Northumberland County Council, with help to establish the school area in Plessey Woods Country Park, set up the social enterprise, support the registration process for the nursery and best practice, and start the projects on site.
Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “It is great to see this forest school up and running, and I wish the organisers every success.
“It is providing an excellent alternative to more mainstream nursery provision, helping children to develop personal skills, as well as an understanding of the world, the environment and everything within it.”
Annie added: “We are extremely grateful to all of the staff and teams at the council for all the support they have given us in setting up the forest school and nursery. Plessey Woods provides a great base for us and an amazing environment in which to explore and learn.
“I would encourage anyone interested in bringing their children along to the nursery to please give us a call and pay a visit.”