Day Two of Forest School Practitioner Training at Rookhowe. Review/reflect & H&S

 Health & Safety - James and I sawing wood the forest school way. Note hands through and above the blade to keep the wood stable and making it difficult to cut yourself if the blade jumps. Bare hands on the handle to get a good grip.

Health & Safety - James and I sawing wood the forest school way. Note hands through and above the blade to keep the wood stable and making it difficult to cut yourself if the blade jumps. Bare hands on the handle to get a good grip.

Today was very much about review and reflection. Forest School is meant to be a long term programme developing pupils in all sorts of ways. We have six week programmes and some one off sessions that don’t have this long term element. We’re quite comfortable with that as we work alongside teachers who do oversee this development and to be frank we would expect schools to invite us back.

As an ex teacher reviewing is an integral part of reinforcing learning. Reflection too, especially deeper insights and feelings straying into pastoral care which any teacher is familiar with.

Then it’s onto Health and Safety and getting that balance of risk without impairing development. We’ve loads of health and safety experience well beyond the forest school training and its our first value that makes us who we are. It  was good to see the context in which safety is delivered within forest schools.  There was a couple of things we didn't quite agree on such as the definition of risk (we believe it should include severity as well as the chance of something bad happening) and risk vs benefit. 

Risk vs benefit is where you determine the developmental value offset against risk. We think that if something has value then do it, if it doesn't then don’t. But you must manage the risk to a level that is as safe as possible without wrecking the benefit. An example might be playing conkers with a full suit of armour on – ridiculous but often its reported that playing conkers has been banned in schools which is nonsense.

 For safety buffs you’d apply the hierarchy of control measures here. You can’t offset safety vs benefit but bear in mind when I say safety I don’t mean zero risk.

Back to my conkers example you’d ask – Are there benefits? YES. Worth doing then? YES. Is it safe? YES. Could it be safer? Probably but let’s not wreck the game trying to achieve zero risk.

This sounds very managementy so playing hide and seek games and getting to some practical  in the woods was a relief. My co student  James gave a great Swan impression when we were asked to make animal noises to help the seeker - we couldn't tell where he was because we were rolling about laughing.

Speaking of animals Lily told me a meerkat tale to help do a taut rope hitch (a sliding knot). This made a tricky knot “simples!”