Dulwich College is the first international school in Singapore to introduce Forest School, accredited by the UK's Forest School Learning Initiative (FSLI), into the DUCKS early years programme. We are pioneering the movement here to provide real world learning and problem-solving opportunities to young children in a natural environment. Forest School builds on the Nordic concept of ‘Friluftsliv’ (open-air living) – going back to the forest – where the landscape itself provides both the stimulus and the arena of learning and has myriad positive effects on children’s physical and mental wellbeing. This allows children to develop and apply academic skills, build emotional resilience and learn to manage risk through self-initiated interactions with nature.
Why Forest School?
- Forest School at Dulwich College (Singapore) is in essence using the outdoor environment to deliver exceptionally high-quality memorable learning experiences.
- Students are taught how to assess, mitigate and embrace risk to drive their learning through meaningful and personal child-led experiences.
- All subject areas of the curriculum are covered in a way that is real, tangible and exciting to each individual student.
- Forest School is incredibly effective for all styles of learners.
- Children who have found it challenging to operate to their best potential within the confines of a traditional classroom often excel at Forest School, where they are able to engage in learning with a new level of freedom and trust.
- Seeing a child, who on their first session was afraid to sit in the grass for fear of ants, later go searching for local animals in the bushes with an ID kit in hand and a smile on their face is priceless.
- Students are furnished with real-world skills and the mental apparatus required to keep themselves safe. Through applying these skills to their own areas of interest, students are empowered with a vehicle to drive forward their own learning.
- Rather than isolating a skill and discretely teaching it in the sterile environment of a classroom, Forest School takes the student back to real challenges where the skill acquisition is a necessity to fulfil their own fascinations.
- Students are provided with the opportunity to observe and interact with a wide range of Singapore’s diverse flora and fauna, becoming confident in how to keep themselves and those they care about safe in a tropical environment.
- At Dulwich (Singapore) our teaching philosophy of child-led learning enriched with meaningful opportunities to apply new knowledge is already in alignment with the tenets of Forest School.
- The Forest School site is carefully monitored to minimise our environmental impact on it and the biodiversity it contains.
- A risk assessment is conducted formally prior to the commencement of each session and dynamically throughout.
- We have never had an injury at Dulwich College (Singapore)’s Forest School of any sort, even though the students are able to use sharp knives, bow and arborist saws, axes and various digging implements. Compared to a classroom where we see injuries on a daily (if not hourly) basis, this is a strong indicator of how students take ownership of their own wellbeing at Forest School and learn to manage risk.