On Saturday a group of intrepid adventurers in Years 1 and 2, together with their parents, gathered together in the courtyard for a morning’s experience of Forest School organised by Mrs Clews and Mrs Emmerson-Friend. The torrential rain earlier in the morning and a fairly bleak forecast did not dampen the spirits one little bit and, appropriately dressed, we spent two very enjoyable hours learning how to tie different knots, put up a shelter, play various games in the woods and toast marshmallows around the fire in our new outdoor classroom before ending with a sing-song around the campfire.

I really am very grateful to Claire and Kathy for organising such an enjoyable day and I was particularly pleased that we were able to do something like this for parents and children together. It is too easy to look on time at school as just an experience for children, but I have always passionately believed that it is an opportunity for time shared together, particularly at prep school level. A good prep school is like an extended family, involving the pupils, their parents, the staff and the governors and the more that we can do together the greater the benefit to the children.

It was also a thrill to see the first fire lit in our outdoor classroom and I am really looking forward to the weather getting colder so that we can do more of this. Everything that can be taught inside a classroom can be learnt equally effectively outside and often children who find it difficult to understand the message indoors can gain a greater comprehension from a slightly different approach in the open air.

DCPS lends itself perfectly to this type of learning. Our canopied classroom is a very unusual design and is one of less than ten throughout the whole country. To the best of my knowledge there is not another one in Staffordshire or Derbyshire quite like this. It fits into our surroundings perfectly and provides the teachers with the opportunity to add another dimension to the educational opportunities that the children are receiving here.

I should add that it does not stop here either. There are plenty more initiatives that I would like to see introduced on to our beautiful site in the months to come, each of which will add something extra to the children’s education.

Watch this space!

Jerry Gear
5th October 2014