Blooming lovely: LJMU cultivates its Forest School

Forest School

LJMU is utilising its green spaces with the help of students and volunteers in a bid to enhance primary trainee teachers’ education journey with the development of the Forest School Initiative.

The Faculty of Education, Health and Community at IM Marsh is equipping its primary trainee teachers with new skills through the development of a forest school, wildlife meadow habitat and raised growing beds.

The project will prepare primary teacher trainees to not only be academically equipped and prepared but to have multiple experiences of the wider issues around environmental education and the holistic approaches to teaching which are being adopted by schools and other education providers.

The project links to the University’s current focus on Education for Sustainable Development, with the plan to also influence the land use for the new campus at the John Foster Building when the Faculty moves there in 2018.

The project ‘Fostering Education for sustainable Development and Environmental Awareness among Staff and Students’ will help develop confidence in science subjects and improve trainees’ academic knowledge for effectively using green spaces with children and young people.

Two interns were used to recruit volunteers over the course of the six week project and to establish a plan to continue developing the spaces over the coming semester. The works were carried out over the 2016 summer vacation in partnership with Mersey Forest and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and the areas are now ready for use. It is intended that primary education trainees will use the areas with children from local primary schools to continue to develop partnerships between LJMU and the local community in addition to developing their own skills in teaching outdoors. The new green spaces developed on IM Marsh campus will also be widely utilised across the Faculty with additional interest from the Education Studies, Early Childhood and the Outdoor Education programmes already coming in.

Avril Rowley, from the School of Education, said “This kind of project is an essential part of the education journey which gives the perfect opportunity for students from the School of Education and the School of Sport, Leisure and Nutrition to gain the skills to teach and work with children outside the classroom.

“Many schools and other educational establishments across the country are embracing the benefits of learning in the outdoors and the integration of these areas into our education programmes at LJMU will provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to compete for jobs in the rapidly changing world of education.”

Forest School

Third year primary education trainees using the Outdoor Woodland Learning Space (OWLS) for Forest School training. They recently spent time preparing the spaces by planting bulbs, making bug hotels, digging a pond and planting sensory/herbs/vegetables in the raised bed area. These will be used by children from local schools. LJMU has worked in partnership with Mersey Forest who will also be using the space to teach Forest School activities to children from local schools which LJMU trainees will take part in too. The OWLS is a multipurpose space which will be used for the enhancement of the whole of the primary curriculum for the Primary Education trainees and across the Faculty by Outdoor Education and Education Studies.


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