EiF Schools Award
2015 - RFS Excellence in Forestry Schools Award
Sponsored by PEFC and ECL Howard Watson Smith
The Schools Award encourages and rewards schools that increase the understanding and appreciation, among young people of the environmental, social and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests and of the link between trees and everyday wood products.
- Builth Wells High School
- Portfield School, Haverfordwest
- St Christopher's School, Wrexham
Family Engagement Officer Julie Jenkins, School Head Suzanne Sargent, RFS Education Manager Phil Tanner and RFS President Sir Jack Whitaker
The breadth of work with school children and the community in their own school woodland impressed the judges - Sue Williams, who heads up the Education, Learning and Sector Skills Team for Natural Resources Wales, and Phil Tanner, Education Manager of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).
Pencoed School has around 570 pupils. Its woodland was planted 24 years ago by students and staff as a resource for learning opportunities not just for the students attending the school but the whole community.
Judge Phil Tanner said: "This inspirational work to ensure that Pencoed School is more than just a school is supported by both the school staff and the parents of the children. Leading the school's engagement programme is local resident Julie Jenkins whose enthusiastic approach to providing outdoor learning opportunities is at the heart of the school's success."
Pencoed School provides opportunities for children of all ages to develop personally in an outdoor environment and places an emphasis on curriculum design centred on the use of the schools woodland.
Pencoed's work has been supported by local partnerships and school pupils visit the local Rockwool site where they participate in education sessions with Natural Resources Wales staff to gain an understanding of the value of local woodland sites. The school's partnership with Bridgend College saw an excellent example of teaching and learning for all involved when college students delivered Forest School sessions to Pencoed pupils.
Head teacher Ms Sarjeant said: "At Pencoed Primary School we strive to promote family involvement and to support and create partnerships with the families in our school. Using our Forest School Area for this has been a key aspect of our development this year. Showing the value of using woodland areas for all aspects of learning has inspired and motivated many of our families to get outside and enjoy nature!
"The award will help us promote this resource further and ensure it is sustained for future generations. I am thrilled that the hard work and dedication of all involved has been recognised."
Family Engagement Officer Julie Jenkins added: " I am delighted we have been recognised for the positive approach we have in engaging our families into the life of the school and their children’s learning. Using our outdoor learning environment has proven to be very positive for many families, allowing children to learn and develop in a stimulating and natural environment. Our thanks to Faye Williams our Forest Schools Leader with whom we have worked closely on all these projects. I look forward to developing our programmes further in future."
Ferryside is a seaside village school near Carmarthen. Its partnership with a local woodland co-operative, Panteg Wood, improves children's understanding and appreciation of the role of woodlands.
The judges - Sue Williams, who heads up the Education, Learning and Sector Skills Team for Natural Resources Wales, and Phil Tanner, Education Manager for the Royal Forestry Society (RFS). were impressed with the opportunities provided by the partership.
It gives the children the opportunity to visit a woodland that is managed by coppice rotations for the production of charcoal, helping them understand and appreciate woodlands within their local community. Project work has increased the pupils knowledge of woodlands on a global scale where they learn about the value of the world’s forests.
Judge Phil Tanner says: "Projects on ash dieback and the wood processing cycle demonstrate the importance Ferryside School placed on pupils being aware of the importance of trees and wood products within their daily life.
"The value of Ferryside's woodland education is evident within the school and the local community. Winning the silver award of the RFS Excellence in Forestry schools award provides Ferryside with the recognition that their efforts to provide first class woodland based outdoor learning deserve!"
Headteacher Jayne Davies said: "I feel immensely proud of our success in this highly-esteemed national competition and grateful to all the staff, pupils, governors and members of the local community who have worked so diligently during the past year to establish Panteg Woodland in Ferryside as an inspirational learning tool.
"Physical, practical, hands-on experience in the beautiful outdoors has led to a positive improvement in pupils’ enthusiasm for learning and has impacted upon cognitive skills, raising standards in all areas of the curriculum. The outstanding work undertaken as a whole school has raised awareness of the natural world on a local and global level."
Mrs.Laura Howells, KS2 Class-Teacher and Eco-Schools Co-ordinator, added: "I am delighted that this project has received recognition for all the hard work involved in planning Numeracy, Literacy and Scientific activities in the local forest. Visiting Panteg Woodland this past year has allowed all of us as a staff and pupils to discover what a wonderful resource we have on our doorstep here in Ferryside. The experience has also helped us achieve our Eco-School Platinum Flag.
"In this high-tech world that we live in, it is amazing how much pleasure the children have gained from spending time in the great outdoors."
The prize money will go towards establishing a multi-sensory woodland area on the school grounds to stimulate learning and the senses, particularly important for pupils who have visual and hearing impairments.
Evergreen trees will be planted to provide shaded areas, herbs for scent, wildflowers for colour and bamboo grasses for sound.