JobsAndCareersSpringIssue2017 - 139

SPOTLIGHT ON TEACHING

IN TEACHING
LINDA ROWLEY, 58,

HAS BEEN TEACHING FOR 37
YEARS AND HAS BEEN WORKING
AS A FOREST SCHOOLTEACHER
IN A ST NEOTS INFANTS SCHOOL
FOR THE LAST THREE OF THEM
I was a very shy teenager and didn't
have any burning career ambitions.
But as part of my work experience,
I started to help in a school. I began
to realise I felt comfortable and happy
in front of children and I really loved
the idea of making a difference.
Now, all these years later, I can't
imagine doing anything else.
In my original job as a primary
schoolteacher, I was always keen
to encourage children's creativity;
but there were times when I felt
frustrated by the constraints of the
classroom. So when the chance to
train as a Forest Schoolteacher arose,
I grabbed it with both hands - and it
was the best decision I've ever made.

Words: Kate Yelland Images: Shutterstock

DEN BUILDING

I absolutely love my job. It almost
feels like a privilege to help children
connect with nature and look after
their wellbeing, while simultaneously
boosting their confidence and
self-esteem. The children lead their
own learning in a forest environment
and they're given the opportunity to
discover their natural surroundings.
We work with all year groups
in the school from Reception to Year
2 and each child gets the opportunity
to attend weekly forest school sessions
alongside their classroom learning.
Forest School is not curriculum
based. Instead, the children
experience things like den building,
putting up shelters, climbing trees,

EACH CHILD
WILL LEARN
SKILLS SUCH AS
PERSEVERANCE AND
PROBLEM SOLVING,
WHICH THEY BRING
TO THE CLASSROOM
cooking on a campfire and using tools
- and for some children this is a first.
A recent statistic suggested that
three-quarters of our children spend
less time outside than inmates in
prison! These kind of statistics are
shocking but only go on to inspire me
further to try to make a difference.
Wild spaces have been shown to
reduce stress levels and we do get
to see a different side to the children.
I still teach in a Year 1 class once
a week but I'm always dying to get
back outside. Watching the children
engaged, passionate and animated
is magical - it's like being members of

a special club. We had one
particular child who wouldn't join
in, wouldn't talk and just sat and
observed. A few sessions in and he
took himself off and climbed a tree
- something he'd never done
before. The pride and achievement
on his face was priceless.
You continue to see little
lightbulb moments as each child
takes personal strides and learns
skills such as perseverance,
working together and problem
solving - which they then bring
back to the classroom. It's
amazing to see children gain the
confidence to take their own risks.

NO WRONG ANSWERS

I feel so lucky, although being
outside in all weathers is not for
everyone! We take 15 children each
session and use the same area of
woodland. This way they begin to
take ownership of the area and can
see it change seasonally. It's like
a classroom without walls,
stripped of the usual boundaries.
Coming from a rather
traditional teaching background,
I've found it hard to step back.
The thing was, I was so used to
planning everything in advance.
Now I have to trust the children
and let them take the lead. In
Forest School there are no wrong
answers and no judgement, and
that's what builds confidence and
empowers children.
I would advise anyone who's
passionate about getting children
outdoors to consider it as a career
- it's inspiring to watch children
learn in this way. Work almost
feels like therapy - this really
is a job that's good for the soul!
J O B S & C A R E E R S /// 1 3 9



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JobsAndCareersSpringIssue2017

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