Thanks to funding from The Ernest Cook Trust two groups of KS3 students with additional learning needs from Bitterne Park School have completed a 12-week Forest School programme at Itchen Valley Country Park (IVCP). The programme supports their national curriculum subjects and works towards achieving the John Muir Discovery Level Award.
Youth Options developed this outdoor learning programme to support young people to re-engage with their formal education at the same time as learning how to use natural resources and lessen their impact on the environment. Through a range of activities participants gained practical experience of curriculum lead topics including literacy, numeracy and STEM as well as sustainability, global citizenship and enterprise.
The students invited us to visit them at school where they had produced a fantastic display about the programme, the John Muir Award and the natural environment at IVCP. Not only have the students clearly enjoyed the programme, the teachers reported a positive impact on their emotional capabilities.
One teacher said: "Since starting the course there had had been a noticeable increase in their empathy skills."
Another teacher said: "Taking part in the Youth Options programme has given us the confidence to take these young people on more trips and even to consider a residential."