St James Forest School is an exciting place to be! In Forest School the children get the opportunity to experience the outdoors and develop a real sense of outdoor learning and appreciate our environment. The children take part in all sorts of different activities from shelter building, investigating mini bugs, cooking on an open fire, using bush craft tools, learning how to tie knots and telling tales of long ago.
At St James we are currently in the process of developing and extending our forest school areas. We have recently built two log cabins where the children will be able to read, explore and learn in an alternative environment.
The children love being outdoors and gain a greater understanding of the environment. They are able to develop their physical strength and coordination through demanding fine and gross motor skills activities. Children will often have to cooperate with one another to succeed and as a consequence develop their team building and social skills. Often children just love being outside and have the opportunity to interact in an exciting, natural environment.
Above all the children love rolling around in the mud and not getting told off for it!!!
St. James University
As part of our school curriculum, this is particularly favoured by our children. Across the school, each adult leads a course, which can be anything from brick laying to building bird boxes, that the children get to choose. They attend this course for a period of 5 weeks and then graduate with a certificate and a new set of skills!
During the course the children embark on a mini- learning journey where they develop and embed a new set of skills in an area which they would not normally get the opportunity to take part in. This has become a great success and the children love being able to work with a range of different adults and children, in a range of different settings. We are hoping to continue and develop this further: offering a wider range of courses that the children are interested in.
Each term allows the children to select a new course so that at the end of the year they have taken part on a range of courses that has lead to important skills being embedded in a fun and frivolous way!
Learning logs are a real success story at St James. We found that our children were becoming disengaged by the homework that they were being asked to do. So, we decided to inject a bit of fun into homework and at the same time try to promote some independent learning that parents could try to support.
Every week children are set a learning log task. The task is normally related to their irresistible learning topic. They will be asked to research something or tell us something that they want to find out or know about. They have to squeeze all of their ideas onto a 2 page spread in the learning log book. Creativity is the key as they try to make their learning log as fun and as engaging as possible.
Parents are encouraged to get involved as much as they can so that they can have some quality time with their child.
Residential trips from St James are a very important part of the school’s experiences. Residential trips offer a variety of opportunities for the children – from art, dance, music and drama courses to outward bound courses and environmental courses. This variety of opportunities ensures that there is something available to all.
These courses give many children the opportunity to take part in activities they may otherwise never have the chance to participate in. It gives a wider range of experiences to those who flourish in creative and active environments, or who struggle to fulfil their full potential within the classroom.
All the residential trips help to develop team building skills as the children will collaborate with one another to complete projects or tackle problems. The children also develop their independence hugely. Having to take care of their own belongings, make beds, help set tables and have responsibilities teaches them a lot.
For many, these settings are the first time they have stayed away from family or close friends and although often daunting to start with they soon relish the freedom to learn more about themselves, and their teachers!
Currently we alternate Residential sites yearly. Year 3 and 4 will have the opportunity to visit the Frank Chapman Centre and Edgmond Hall. Year 5 and 6 will have the opportunity to visit Plas Gwynt in Wales and Ingestre Hall.
At St James we offer a wide range of lunchtime clubs to ensure that all of our children are having fun and being active throughout the whole school day. Some of the clubs that the children have access to are table tennis club, football club, table football club and art club to name but a few. We even have professional footballers and dancers come in to lead some of our most popular clubs! The children really enjoy them and sometimes discover a hidden talent!