Kirkton Primary School are getting their wellies on and heading outside

Using Jock's Burn as a playground

Filed under News
Date posted: Monday, 04 December 2017

Primary 6 pupils at Kirkton Primary School, Carluke, are being given the opportunity to swap their classroom for a Forest School, between now and the end of term in June 2018.

Taking place in the local Jock’s Burn woodlands just half a mile from the school, the sessions have been designed for ten pupils at a time, and are being held over a six-week block, whatever the weather!

The sessions have been designed to be fun, child-led, educational, active and – more often than not – muddy. Pupils will have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment and the importance of beautiful local sites, such as Jock’s Gill.

Wet but happy. Kirkton Primary School pupils in Jock's Burn
Wet but happy. Kirkton Primary School pupils in Jock's Burn

Pupils will learn new skills such as being able to start a small camp fire without matches, how to whittle sticks, set up a safe rope swing, tree climbing, shelter building and most importantly just having the time to play and learn outdoors, where exploring and getting muddy is actively encouraged.

The sessions are being led by Forest School leader and ecologist Colin Dunlop; a former pupil of Kirkton and a parent helper, with assistance from Erin Hill who has recently started on her own path of Forest School training.

A grant was awarded to the school from the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), which allowed the school to purchase all the necessary equipment needed for the project including bush craft knives, saws, tarpaulins, storm kettles and other items, as well as funding Erin’s training.

Kirkton Primary School’s Principal Teacher, Mrs Cat Smith says, “The opportunity to be part of the Forest School experience has been enriching for our P6’s. They come back every week full of stories and eager to share their new skills with their friends. Taking their learning into the wider world has opened the children’s eyes to the possibilities of fun and adventure that lie on their doorstep. As a school, we promote and encourage outdoor learning, and feel privileged that Colin and Erin are able to immerse our pupils in this unique woodland classroom.”

Kirkton Primary School pupils in Jock's Burn
Kirkton Primary School pupils in Jock's Burn

The project is part of a wider scheme of Growing Up Wild natural play initiatives, taking place as part of the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP).

Karen Dobbins, CAVLP Development Officer says, “We’ve been delighted to see a surge in the appetite for natural play initiatives in the past few years. Through CAVLP, we have coordinated Lanarkshire’s first ever conference on natural play in November 2016, funded 66 holiday woodland play sessions, trained 38 Forest School leaders, supporting at least 12 Forest Schools and 10 outdoor play clubs.”

People interested in finding out more about natural play initiatives groups, ideas and networking in the area, can request to join the ‘Growing Up Wild – Outdoor Play’ Facebook group, coordinated by OutLET: Play Resource.

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