In 2006 the concept of Forest School took hold at Copthill. Like many adults, Jonathan Teesdale felt that his childhood learning experiences benefitted from many hours spent exploring and playing outdoors. When he came across Forest Schools he was immediately excited and enthused. The facilities available at Copthill are perfect for providing this unique and rewarding style of learning to all pupils. With an unwaivering commitment he set about making this idea a reality. The department has grown and developed into one that has been described by the Independent Schools Inspectorate as an outstanding facility.
As Copthill is situated on a working farm, there are many different environments to access. A piece of magical woodland and a breath taking river have helped to shape the sheltered outdoor areas. There are fixed camps, a large teepee, small shelters and an impressive wooden fort. Pupils are encouraged through the mastery of small achievable outdoor tasks to grow in self esteem and self confidence.
Natural materials are used wherever possible and pupils work with a variety of adult tools, including saws, drills and peelers. They quickly learn the boundaries within which they must work.
Pupils go out in all weathers as we believe there is no such thing as bad weather - just inappropriate clothing! This type of learning caters for all abilities and is a positive and fun experience for everyone.
You can find 100 reasons why you shouldn't start teaching outdoors. There's health and safety or not enough time in the curriculum. But if you have the belief that it is going to be good for the children, you can overcome those hurdles.
Jonathan Teesdale, Principal