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Forest school with outdoor classrooms and its own alpaca herd set to open in Norfolk

Sarah Young
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An innovative “forest school” with outdoor classrooms and its own herd of alpacas is set to open in Norfolk.

The seal of approval to plans submitted by businessman Maurice Briggs to build the alternative education centre was given by South Norfolk Council’s planning committee gave its .

Built on 20 acres of woodland near Wymondham, the school will offer courses to young children, adults with learning difficulties and people at risk of social isolation.

The concept, which was first introduced to the UK about 25 years ago, will offer a distinct approach to teaching and learning with by encouraging pupils to move away from computers and into nature.

While there will be no electricity on site, the school will have a number of yurts and woodland shelters designed to inspire children to learn through hands-on experiences.

“The focus is on physical development for strong mental health and keeping active while being at one with nature,” the application said.

Other activities at the school will include growing, harvesting and den building, and it will be open on weekdays between 8am and 5pm.

It will also offer activities outside school term times, closing only for two weeks over Christmas.

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According to the Forest School Association (FSA), forest schools originated from Denmark in the 19th century.

However, they were only introduced in the UK during the Nineties.

A recent study conducted by Loughborough University, forest schools can contribute to the development of collaborative learning skills, by encouraging children to work with others on challenging outdoor activities.

The findings also suggested that this type of ‘experiential’ learning appears to equip children with practical skills and an appreciation for being outdoors, which they can then transfer to family activities outside of school.

Danielle Marsh, a forest school leader at Westwards Nursery said: “It is a fabulous opportunity for children to explore the outdoor environment, develop a connection with nature and improve a whole range of skills from personal, social and emotional, to physical development and communication.

“They really enjoy participating in the activities and learning all about the woodland."

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