The Forest School at Wyville has been an ongoing project here since 2014. Operating as part of the Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship (GANF), which comprises of two Ofsted-rated “Outstanding” schools and, in turn, is part of the Community Inclusive Trust, the Forest School is an amazing facility for children who need our support.
GANF caters for over two hundred pupils between the ages of 3 and 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties and complex needs. Many are on the autistic spectrum, with others having ADHD and varying degrees of developmental delay, and some with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties.
Pupils are here five days a week during term time, and GANF now has a fully qualified Forest School Practitioner and Higher Level TA, who manage everything in the woods. All activities have been designed to run alongside the national curriculum on a sensory level, covering Geography, PSHE, RE, Science, English, Art & Design, Design & Technology, Food Tech, Citizenship, PE and Music.
There have been several phases to the development of the Forest School, and the woodland now boasts pathways following a sensory circuit through the trees and wheelchair access wherever possible. There are sensory stations around the circuit with bamboo musical instruments, two fire pits (one accessible to wheelchairs) and a spectacular outdoor classroom positioned right in the centre of the woodland, made from natural materials and taking advantage of all the surrounding wildlife.
The children now benefit from being able to regularly access this wonderful natural space – it makes such a difference to them to be outside in a safe and stimulating environment! The school also have use of the Village Hall which provides toileting facilities and a classroom where the children can be kept warm and dry and complete projects that compliment the outside activities.
Ongoing funding will always be necessary to keep the Forest School flourishing. There are standard running costs alongside one-off purchases (gardening equipment for the children, for example), and there are plans for a constant transformation of both the woodland and the Village Hall to improve the facilities on offer.
The current plan is for a complete renovation of the toilets, making a wet room and improving access. There are still some pupils who cannot use the Forest School, and creating an inclusive toilet facility will go some way to enable all the children can enjoy the pleasures that the school offers. We also hope to replace the existing (and almost unusable) kitchen in the Village Hall – at the moment we are unable to prepare food there, so a new kitchen is long overdue!