About

Bairns and Branches Forest School is all about getting muddy, climbing trees, making fires, cooking outside, learning to use tools, and having a completely wonderful time in the great outdoors, whatever the weather!

Meet the Founder

yvonne founder

Yvonne Fraser is a primary school teacher with 9 years of classroom experience and multiple qualifications including:

  • 18 months in Drummond School (Special Needs)
  • 4 years in multi composite rural schools e.g. 1 class schools with P1-7 in one class
  • 5 years in preschool and nursery provision
  • 4 years in secondary education in a support for learning role
  • Postgraduate Diploma of Education (primary)
  • Outdoor First Aid
  • BA Child and Youth Studies
  • Forest School Leader Level 3

Her previous occupations include offshore medic, registered general nurse, and microbiology technician.

As an advocate of Outdoor Education Yvonne has been involved in Upstart Scotland, a campaign to raise formal school age to 7 with an outdoor kindergarten stage for 3-7 year olds. She is excited for the day that campaign comes to fruition and in the meantime she decided to train in Forest School leadership in order to address some of the needs in the current system.

 

Why did you start a Forest School rather than other outdoor learning activities?

I am passionate about seeing every child build skills, abilities and attitudes to achieve their full potential and lead physically active and healthy lives.

A better start to education

Research shows that countries with outdoor kindergarten / forest school provision in the early years (up to 7 years) have a population of teenagers who are academically more able and healthier both physically and mentally. This is in contrast to countries where most education and child care takes place indoors and formal education (reading, writing, maths etc) begins as early as 4 years.

Forest School is based on the Finnish model of early years care and education. Finland is consistently near the top of educational ‘league tables’ such as those produced by OECD, and other studies show their youth are ‘fitter’ physically and mentally than here in the UK.

The Forest School ethos

The Forest School ethos is low adult to child ratios. Meeting in the same outdoor area with the same group of leaders and learners, over a long period of time, allows leaders to develop programmes with individual needs in mind and enables learners to:

  • develop strong relationships with their group and the environment
  • take part in risky activities safely
  • learn for themselves how to assess and manage risk
  • follow their own interests
  • develop the foundations to build formal educational success on - communication and spoken language skills, spatial awareness, hand eye co-ordination, motor skills, problem solving abilities and self-regulation.
about bairns and branches 1

I believe Forest School provides the elements required to provide high quality education to learners, with a high number of trained adults in each session allowing time to focus on individual, rather than group, needs. The constancy of people in the group and location provides security to all, encouraging strong, respectful and nurturing relationships with each other, giving the confidence and trust required to be fully open to the learning experiences provided.

Individual successes

The Forest School model is about each individual achieving at their level with no comparison to others in the group. Each learner experiences success and pride in their individual achievements. These intrinsic motivators then drive the desire to take the next steps even when they are difficult and likely to require many attempts to succeed, building resilience and persistence.

In traditional settings, where learners are often grouped according to ability, they quickly learn that they are not as good as some of their peers. They can feel that they don’t quite meet the expected standard for their age and stage. This has a very negative impact on learners motivation. Forest School instead focuses on each learner's individual successes.

Ongoing investment

Bairns and Branches will aim to reinvest profits into developing the facilities on offer to all learners, and support communities with limited access to outdoor activities. We will also encourage adults with an interest in education to pursue a career in Forest School provision.

You can book online now, or feel free to get in touch.