Wales & West Forest School: Providing Outdoor Learning & Play Experiences for Children & Young People

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Outdoor learning and play are important for children and young people to experience. However, in this day and age, opportunities can be few and far between.

Wales & West Forest School provides just such opportunities. Through their fully mobile forest school which is able to operate from any wooded area across the South West and Wales, Wales & West Forest School provide everything necessary for forest school to take place, whether it be for a nursery, school, holiday club or birthday party.

Please do read on to find out more about Wales & West Forest School from the founders themselves, husband and wife team, Mike and Alyson Welti.

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Please tell Bristol Mum readers a bit about yourself…

We are Mike & Alyson Welti, the husband and wife team behind Wales and West Forest School, providers of high quality, outdoor learning and play experiences for children and young people.

We met whilst at university in Cardiff in 2006 during teacher training and afterwards moved to Bristol to begin our teaching careers. We have since gone on to teach at a variety of Primary Schools across the South West working with children of many different ages.

We still teach on a part-time basis alongside our work with Wales & West Forest School and also have two beautiful daughters, Jazmin and Annabella who, like us, love to go on long walks, ride bikes and have lots of fun outdoors!

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What service does Wales & West Forest School provide?

Wales & West Forest School offer a variety of outdoor learning services. Much of our work involves schools and nurseries where we provide curricular and extra curricular Forest School activities and training. We also run holiday clubs and cater for children’s parties. We also intend on running toddler groups in the near future.

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Why did you set up Wales & West Forest School?

We set up Wales & West Forest School for a number of reasons. Our main motivation stems from our love of the outdoors and our passion for working with children and young people. Between us, we have 24 years experience of working with children both here and abroad. Forest School has certainly been the most rewarding way of watching children learn and grow.

I, Mike, have been a Level 3 Forest School practitioner for a number of years and get as much enjoyment from delivering the program as the participants get from taking part. The benefits are enormous for children and young people of all ages.

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With Alyson keen not to miss out, she also decided to train to become a Level 3 Forest practitioner.

Alyson has particular expertise in working with younger children (nursery and infant age) and I have predominantly spent my career working with older children (junior age). We decided to join forces and create Wales & West Forest School with the aim of spreading the Forest School experience to as many children and young people as possible.

Where does Wales & West Forest School take place?

We pride ourselves on offering a complete but fully mobile service in order to reach as many children as possible. This means we provide everything from the specialist kit and waterproofs, to session planning, risk assessments, polices/procedures, insurance etc.

As a result we are capable of operating from wooded sites across the South West and South Wales. At present, most of our work is done from the wooded areas at Birdwell School, Long Ashton BS41 9AZ and Lawrence Weston Community Farm, Bristol BS11 0NJ. The list of sites in which we can operate from is growing all the time and we are looking forward to also operating from sites in South Wales from autumn onwards.

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Please tell me about the Natural Connections Demonstration Project…

The Natural Connections Demonstration Project is being delivered by Plymouth University and is scheduled to run for 3½ years (September 2012 – March 2016). The project will promote learning in the natural environment (LINE) by engaging with schools and volunteers in the South West of England.

The aim is to demonstrate to schools and parents the value of learning in natural environments, increase the numbers of children and adults getting outdoors and improve access to outdoor learning spaces and resources.

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The delivery model includes primary, secondary and special schools within five hubs in Plymouth, Torbay, Cornwall, North Somerset and Bristol. I am involved in the North Somerset regional arm being coordinated by the Forest of Avon Trust through my teaching at Birdwell School.

As a Beacon School, Birdwell is looking to recruit around seven ‘cluster’ schools to mentor and assist with learning in the natural environment. If you are interested in being involved then please get in touch…

What activities do you offer for children under 5?

We currently work with a variety of nurseries across Bristol in order to deliver Forest School on their behalf. All sessions link to the seven areas of learning from the Early Years Outcomes and take place in the outdoors, either in a nearby wooded area or within the grounds of the organisation we are working with.

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Alyson is an Early Years Foundation Stage specialist and steers our work in this area. We have some Nursery availability remaining for the next academic year so please contact us if we could be of help.

As previously mentioned, we also intend on setting up toddler groups for parents/carers to attend with their children in the near future.

Pease tell me about the parties that you offer…

Wales & West Forest School provide a party service for children aged 3-11 years old. Our parties appeal equally to both boys and girls and can take place either at one of our designated sites or at home.

Standard parties follow a Forest School theme and include activities such as den building, bush craft, outdoor cooking etc.

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Or alternatively children can let their imagination run wild and choose a more elaborate woodland option. Children often choose for their party to follow a different theme, based on their favourite book or interest.

Birthday parties can be arranged on weekdays during school holidays and weekends throughout the year and last for a minimum of two hours. Parents/ carers are more than welcome to cater for the party themselves and the preparation can also be incorporated into the party itself. We also supply water proof clothing if needed.

We are very flexible and can offer ideas to suit most requests!

To find out more visit www.walesandwestforestschool.co.uk/parties/.

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Will you be offering any Forest School activities over the summer?

The school holidays should be all about being outdoors, spending the day playing, getting dirty, having lots of laughs and enjoying yourself. Sadly, this is no longer the norm for many children these days. However, we are striving to put this right!

Wales & West Forest School Summer Holiday Club 2014 for children aged 8-11 will run from Monday 11th August to Friday 15th August at Birdwell School, Long Ashton BS41 9AZ.

Activities are motivating yet achievable and are carried out in a safe manner. Children learn new skills whilst making new friends on the way.

Not only can we give the children this opportunity, parents and carers can be safe in the knowledge that they will be well cared for in hands of trained professionals who understand the needs of children but also know how to have fun!

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We can guarantee they will get home tired and dirty but most importantly happy after a day of: playing, den building, camp fires, making muddy faces, outdoor cooking, bush craft, exploring, creating stick men, playing games, tying knots, making music and much, much more…

Every day with us is different – we never do the same thing twice in a week. Children can attend for a morning or afternoon, a day, a couple of days or for a whole week!

To find out more visit www.walesandwestforestschool.co.uk/holiday-club/.

How can mums and dads contact you about any Forest School activities that you offer?

You can find out more information at www.walesandwestforestschool.co.uk, on Twitter or the Wales & West facebook page. Alternatively you can email us on info@walesandwestforestschool.co.uk or call 01179 821 923 / 07951 870 609.


*Disclosure: Sponsored post.

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