Stickland, Forest and Beach School
We have three fully trained Forest School leaders in our staff team – Teresa, Donna and Trevor who are joined by staff who enjoy being outdoors and who are experienced in supporting outdoor play and learning, two of whom are completing training. Both experiences are open to our youngest children.
Real life adventures’ Playing naturally in a digital age
A collection of pictures and quotations gathered by Teresa Bolger
We have access to a small community garden below Edinburgh Castle – a small piece of ground which offers a very different landscape for the children. Here our children can spend a morning each week (and sometimes more often) in this local area with little or no shelter, in all weathers. Children explore the pond, mud, trees, build dens and use real tools.
This experience builds on children’s opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves. It develops children’s confidence and self-esteem. The Forest School experience will be discussed with you and if your child chooses to attend your permission will be sought.
As well as our Forest School experience children can choose to visit our nature kindergarten at Bonaly Outdoor Centre – a 26 acre site to the south of Edinburgh at the foot of the Pentland Hills. From the slopes above the site there is a magnificent panoramic view across Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth and beyond, which children often get to see as they climb up hills, spot deer and explore woodland at their own pace.
Our children travel by mini bus to the site, usually driven by Stevie, but also by Michael or Marie who they get to know well, and spend the day outdoors, using a yurt (heated in winter) as a base for comfort and shelter or simply to regroup.
Like Forest School, should your child choose to go to the nature kindergarten (fondly named by the children as ‘Stickland’) your permission will be sought.
During the warmer months we might choose to take a bus to visit a beach. Our ‘Beach School’ approach is similar to Forest School and Nature Kindergarten. The landscape provides an opportunity for rich, free play.
Respecting these settings
Forest School and Stickland are on semi-private grounds. Staff who access these sites have been PVG checked for suitability to be working with or in places used by children. We apply the same standards of safety and security as we do at our Centre. Any adult unknown to us who approaches our group would be asked to leave. Please respect these free play environments.
We welcome parents to join us so that we can share with you the values and approach we take. Having you present can also support your child in their choice to visit. Please discuss with us a suitable time to arrange to join us.
When it’s time to go
We will discuss with you when your child might visit these settings. Each child is different and we are guided by their interests and preferences. Children choose what they would like to become involved in at the centre, and this choice extends to their decision to experience Forest School or the ‘Stickland’ Nature Kindergarten. There is no expectation or requirement for them to go.
The opportunity to choose is an important part of the centre’s ethos. Just as children may choose not to leave the centre on a particular day, they often have the chance to choose to Forest School or Stickland or Beach School on additional days. We are able to be flexible and respond to each child’s needs. We aim to share spaces on these visits fairly, according to children’s preferences. Some children may choose to go once a week (the minimum we offer), others are keen to go daily and we accommodate this if it is possible.
This approach is an important part of our how we develop trusting relationships with children, through respecting their views and preferences.