The Director of Outreach at Forest School on collaborating with the community 

Forest School seeks to engage young minds and teach the whole student; to bring into the world young people with excellent qualifications and a sense of the wider world around them. As part of this educational philosophy we believe that it is important that as a school we engage with our local, national and international community to improve students’ awareness and encourage them to be an active members of their communities.

As part of our focus on partnerships and community, Forest has an extensive programme of initiatives every year. Community Action is one such initiative which seeks to further our ongoing commitment to local charities. We recently collaborated with Wrap Up London, a charity which collects warm clothing to distribute to charities supporting vulnerable people. The event was organised by an extremely committed group of Year 11 pupils who led the planning, created poster appeals to pupils and their families to donate their warm clothing, and collected many bags worth of coats for the worthy cause. Laurie, in Year 11, said: “We could not imagine not having a roof over our heads or a coat to keep us warm, and so we wanted to help collect as many coats as possible, so those in need could be kept warm this winter.”

Also this year, Forest held its 13th Prep and Primary music day, open to children from any of our local primary schools. The day, organised by our Director of Music, Mr McGregor, saw an eclectic array of practical music-making activities, typical of a musical day at Forest School. Students had the opportunity to experience group singing, learning a song off by heart and working on the skills of blend, tone and balance. There were ensembles comprised of tenor horns, French horns, trumpets, cornets, clarinets, oboes, flutes, recorders and piano. At the end of the event, the entire group took part in a performance of samba music which proved to be a real high point of the day.

Forest has also been developing links internationally. Following a visit from Principal He of Shanghai Aurora Foreign Language Middle School last May, I accompanied our Head of Mandarin, Ms Chen, to Shanghai in October. Our visit consisted of three days at the Aurora Middle School and a day at the Aurora Vocational College, observing lessons, talking to staff and taking part in activities. We were particularly interested in their approach to teaching and learning, and we enjoyed taking part in symposiums with their staff. Exciting research aside, our main task was to set up a cultural programme that Forest students will benefit from when they visit. This will involve both staff and students undertaking study visits as well as  our Mandarin students working with their Chinese counterparts in Shanghai. 

At Forest School we are fortunate to benefit from wonderful facilities, resources and individuals. We would hope that, year on year, more and more schools in our locality will be able to participate in mutually beneficial future partnerships.