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We had an amazing few days at half term trying out our new sister site at Hey Wood (near Honley Station).

The weather was not especially kind to us, especially on the Wednesday, but we soldiered on regardless and everyone had an amazing time.

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We are very proud to announce that we have been awarded the contract to develop the Outdoor Learning area at Jerry Clay Primary Academy in Wakefield.

This blog will serve as a running commentary on the project for which we are merely facilitators with the concept creators and delivers being the children themselves!

May 2015 saw the first of our sessions to encourage the development of students who for whatever reason may feel disaffected or not flourishing at school. We began with two groups of Year 10 students from Salendine Nook Academy in Huddersfield.

The aim of the day was to provide students with a comfortable space to consider themselves - where they were, where they are and where they want to be. Using small groups the students were encouraged to identify themselves with one of several cartoon characters exhibiting a range of apparent emotions. This was done for how the students felt that morning at the prospect of a day at Eden's Forest, and again thinking about how they felt at school generally. Discussions took place where students could (if they wanted to) verbalise their feelings, and the interpreted feelings of the cartoon characters.

The day was then spent enjoying a series of activities from fire-starting or carving, to campfire cookery and tree climbing. Students were encouraged to work alone or with friends as they wished. It was heartening to see students taking real pride in their work and having the confidence to show off what they had invested much of themselves in. There were also signs of friendship bonds being established which might not otherwise have done at school - otherwise solitary students were observed being brought into, or stepping into other small groups.

At the end of the day, the cartoon characters were revisited and students encouraged to see if their character had changed from the morning. We are not trained counsellors and made that clear to the students, however we were able to provide the students with much food for thought about which cartoon character they might like to affiliate themselves with in the future, and what this might mean for each of them. We were also able to provide the students with the quality time and space that only comes in the outdoors.

The whole group were a real pleasure to spend a day with and we hope to meet them again soon.

At the end of May we were joined by a wonderful Year 2 class from Spring Grove Primary School in Huddersfield.

The children were finding out about creation stories from different religions and their RE teacher Miss Rivers was keen for them to explore these in a natural setting.

We began by discussing what the children already knew about where the world came from and how it was formed. Being from a solid faith background the children were very well informaed of their own creation story.

To contrast their own stories, Adam and Jerome role-played a creation story from the African tradition using clay and natural props. The children were then split into different small groups and with an adult to narrate, they were each given a creation story from a different tradition to role-play. We had a lovely time watching each others' performance round the campfire. After a little discussion about some of the similar and different features contained in the stories, the children each had a go at being 'Mamma Africa' from one of the stories. They used clay harvested from the nearby stream to mould a 'Blobbit' and attribute features such as limbs and wings using resources found in the woodland.

After some lovely hot chocolate made in the fire and our sandwiches there was just time for a bit of running around in the woods in one of Adam's excellent games, then we explored te woods to talk about different habitats ad how the plants and animals all needed each other to survive. 

We concluded that if God was pleased with what he had created, then so should we be, and that it was our responsibility to look after God's wonderful creation whatever our own tradition.

In May we were asked by The Early Excellence Centre in Huddersfield to deliver a training day for KS1 teachers. The focus of the day was to examine the case for outdoor learning beyond the Foundation Stage and to see if individual settings could establish it in their daily practice. There is only so much can be covered in a day, but we had a wonderful time with a great group of KS1 teachers examining the theories and motivations behind outdoor learning, and how these translated into their own practice.

We are looking forward to future training days where we can continue to get our teeth into developing outdoor practice.

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Thanks to Liz and her colleagues for providing us with outstanding support and facilities.