"It is also vital that young people learn how to manage challenge and risk for themselves in everyday situations, so they become confident and capable adults."
Learning Outside The Classroom Manifesto DfE 2006
Our Forest School sessions actively encourage participants to meet new challenges where a degree of risk is often beneficial, if not essential. These activities allow the participants to stretch their thinking beyond their norm. This provides opportunities to assess and manage risks for themselves. Such a risk benefit assessment helps the participants decide on appropriate responses to situations – an advantageous approach for all aspects of life.
Our Forest School Leaders have the Level Three Forest School Practitioner qualification as well as an outdoor paediatric First Aid qualification. They always carry first aid kits and have a burns kit. They have extensive experience of setting up safe but challenging activities for participants, whilst encouraging the participants to think about their own risk benefit assessments. Our Forest School Leaders carry a mobile phone and action plans so any situation can be managed quickly and safely.
Secure site boundaries are communicated to participants and adult to child ratios are fixed as recommended by the Forest School Association (FSA). With thorough risk assessments we take every step to ensure that in our activities no one gets hurt. However, we recognise that accidents do happen and can assure you that as qualified outdoor first-aiders we are trained and equipped to deal with every situation.
Leaders spend a lot of preparatory time making risk assessments. This is so that once the children are there they can have the freedom to take risks. These may be emotional and social risks such as negotiating activities with peers, or emotional and physical risks such as climbing, balancing, tool-use, fire-lighting. Tim Gill (2007: 16) is one of those who identify reasons for giving children the chance to take risks. He also identifies the need for ‘proportion and balance’ (2007: 16), assessing risks in relation to particular situations and to particular children. That is why Forest School leaders spend a lot of preparatory time risk assessing. (Sara Knight, Anglia Ruskin University)
"Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." Jeff Cooper