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The impact of Forest School within Secondary School Education: an exploratory case study of Key Stage Three pupils’ views

Hopkins, Julia Alexandra (2022) The impact of Forest School within Secondary School Education: an exploratory case study of Key Stage Three pupils’ views. Masters thesis, York St John University.

Text (MSc by Research thesis)
HOPKINS JULIA FINAL THESIS.pdf - Published Version
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In the UK, teaching within secondary schools almost always takes place within classrooms. Forest School offers one notable exception. However, this established learning approach often stops after Key Stage Two. This non-continuation is problematic given fears that successive generations are growing increasingly disconnected from nature and when one evaluates evidence of the benefits of Forest School. This thesis offers a case study exploring the impact of Forest School on Key Stage Three pupils. Through interviews and weekly journaling, twelve pupils’ views,
perceptions, evaluations and reflections of a nine-week Forest School programme were collected and analysed. The Headteacher’s aspirations for Forest School were partly met as pupils evidenced how these sessions helped build their independence, confidence, ability to assess and take risks, and become more informed about nature. Furthermore, pupils also reported learning survival, social and physical skills, as well as enhancing their pro-environmental attitudes. One
recurring theme within pupils’ reflections was how Forest School aided their mental and emotional wellbeing, a theme evident in the existing literature. This thesis is the first to assess the impact of Forest School through the experiences of Secondary School aged children. Given
concerns regarding young people’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, and their growing disconnect from nature, this thesis’s exploratory findings suggest that Secondary School leaders may be missing an opportunity by omitting Forest School from curriculum enrichment activities. Whilst the Headteacher interview provides some explanation for this omission, future research could scope the will and capacity of secondary schools to facilitate Forest School. Moreover, researchers could test the impact of Forest School at Key Stage Four and/or undertake a longitudinal study following one cohort’s engagement in Forest School through the Five Key Stages. To gain greater traction from curriculum decision makers, Forest School leaders should continue better embedding cross-curricular learning gains through activities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
School/Department: School of Science, Technology and Health
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7236

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