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Creating a space for every child to be a hero

1. Executive Summary

Forest Centre

Etz Chaim School has been operating for the past 25 years and is highly respected as a

forward-thinking school which both excels in kodesh and chol studies. This document is to

lay the foundations for an entirely different way of teaching both in kodesh and chol,

namely by taking students out of the traditional classroom based learning environment and

undertaking practical activities which will shape and develop their social, emotional and

academic abilities in a profound way.

The cost for this programme is estimated to be approx £50k pa and will be rolled out in a

phased approach over the next 6 years, starting at optional, part time programmes and

leading to entirely unique and different approach held in an independent school,

specialising in such programmes.

2. Mission Statement

2.1. Current Issue

Traditional learning in the classroom is difficult for approximately 40% of students. This

is issue is not only prevalent for SEN pupils, rather it can be across the board, as long as

the traditional classroom learning is not ideal for them.

2.2. Solution

The Forest Centre is the ideal solution, where students are involved with physical activity

(active learning) in the world of nature. Our trials in the past 6 months, have

demonstrated that students will learn much more and will also acquire the academic

skills using the experiences they have gained from the outdoor activities.

For example, the students would be asked to plant a flower bed. This involves creating

work templates using IT software, measuring out the space and dealing with geometry,

communicating with stakeholders and reporting back to teachers who act as

management. Following this exercise, companies such as Century (discussed below) will

create bespoke curriculum mapped to the flower bed activities and will include subjects

such as Maths, English and Science to GCSE level.

Furthermore, this model builds self-esteem, where the students can see the whole

picture and can be involved in the entire project lifecycle. The theory-based subjects will

be then grounded in the practical activities that the students have just undertaken.

In addition, the evidence around the emotional benefit of Forest Schools in general is

widely known to enhance the students’ emotional and holistic wellbeing. Simply by

being engaged in nature causes a balanced effect and reduces stress and anxiety within


3. Financial Forecast

See attached spreadsheet

4. Curriculum

4.1. Outdoor classrooms

Pupils would develop outdoor practical skills combined with curriculum learning via

connecting with nature and physical activities.

4.2. Outdoor workshops

What does it include?

During the trial period, in the past 6 months, The Forest Centre has formed Design and

Technology workshops to include the design and making of outdoor furniture, garden

pots and bird houses.

What transferable skills will the pupils gain?

Pupils develop attention to detail, communication skills and time management skills

including the requirement to deliver to deadlines.

They also have the opportunity to develop their creative and design skills such as how to

customise products and how to paint. They learn how to protect and care for materials

such as outdoor furniture. They gain an awareness of the environmental issues

surrounding us and learn techniques for enhancing our local environments.

Furthermore, they will obtain construction skills and money handling the sale of the

products they create.

4.3. Outdoor educational garden area

What does it include?

The Forest Centre would like to create a garden area which would include growing fruit

and vegetables, and an area for flower beds, hedges and large planters. This would

teach pupils about harvesting plants at the correct times and the science around acidic

levels in the soil which will have a direct impact on growing conditions.

We would particularly like to grow berries so that these can be nurtured and then used

in the kitchen, for example but not limited to, making jams and ice creams.

What transferable skills will the pupils gain?

Pupils will learn how to care and nurture plants, fruit and vegetables. They will also

develop accuracy and measuring skills through cooking specific recipes, such as jam and

ice cream, and can also take orders to sell these products. This would allow pupils to progress with use of numbers and money handling and subsequently, time



4.4. Animal corner

What does it include?

The Forest Centre would like to create an animal corner. This would contain for example

chickens and rabbits. Pupils can care for the animals and watch the life cycle process as

they produce eggs and other natural goods.

What transferable skills will the pupils gain?

Pupils will learn how to care for the animals and attend to their daily needs including

feeding, cleaning animal areas and looking after the eggs. They will also be able to sell

eggs locally and advance their numerical skills, money handling skills and communication

skills. Pupils can gain practical experience with animal biology and health.

4.5. Bicycle repair and maintenance centre

What does it include?

The Forest Centre would like to set up a bicycle repair and maintenance centre so that

the pupils can advertise their services to the public and in response, customers will bring

their bikes in for service and repairs at the school. We also wish to provide bicycle riding


What transferable skills will the pupils gain?

The pupils will gain significant practical, mechanical skills in bike repair, which will give

them confidence to explore other practical areas. They will actively use communication

skills to liaise with customers about their bikes. Pupils will have to work under a time

pressures and to work to commercial deadlines, which will develop time management.

Finally, money handling skills will be progressed.

5. Other Organisations Who We Work With

5.1. Sow in the City

Sow in the City is a local charity and are highly trained to run and facilitate programmes

for Forest Centres. Teachers can gain guidance from the Level 3 Practitioners at this

school. Students can also volunteer to engage in planting for example within rural areas,

giving them practical experience in a real-world setting. We have already had discussions

with them and they are able to run the following schemes:

Willow weaving • Lantern workshop • Nature printing • Natural cosmetics • Paper

making • Natural dyeing • Wood rounds • Seasonal natural crafts • Wood sculpture,

Slate carving, Ceramics.

Propagation—seed sowing, cuttings • Introduction to urban food growing • Balcony

planting • Permaculture design and practice • Container growing • Seed saving •

Therapeutic horticulture • Composting • Forest gardening • Growing mushrooms •

Weeds, Pests and Diseases • Plant protection and training • Garden/plot design • Fruit

tree care and maintenance • Selling garden goodies.

Cooking from the plot • Wild Food - gather and cook • Recipe sharing • Herbal teas and

benefits • Soups and Stews • Fermentation and preserves • Apple juicing • Smoothies,

juices, cordials • Campfire cooking.

Beekeeping • Bird and bat boxes • Wormeries and bug hotels • Bird feeders • Soil

microbiology • Creating wildflower meadow • Wildlife walks—bats, butterflies • Wildlife

gardening • Keeping chickens/rabbits.

Rainwater harvesting • Solar power and irrigation • Building raised beds, benches, tables

• Pond creation and maintenance • Joinery workshop • Hydroponics • Tool

maintenance • Green woodworking • Lathe turning

5.2. Social Adventures

Social Adventures is a local Forest School (within 1 mile of The Forest Centre) and is located in a

perfect location next to the Kersal Dale. We will partner with them to utilise their training

programmes to enable teachers and students to obtain appropriate accreditation up to Level 3

level. This can also enable them to advance their careers within a practical area in the future.

5.3. Century

Century creates bespoke curriculum for academic studies. Century’s vision is “for every

teacher and learner to have access to intelligent tools that help them succeed”. This

would reduce teacher workload, giving them more time to spend teaching and engaging

with pupils. Other schools using Century have noticed an increase in expected standards

with pupils achieving more. Through these curriculum, the students will gain all the

appropriate knowledge to access their full potential in the core GCSE subjects.

6. High Level Timelines and Key Milestones

6.1. Short Term (2021)

Provide the Forest Centre only for students who are not able to be in the classroom

(either SEN or other) on an ad hoc basis in the afternoons.

6.2. Medium term (2022, 2023)

Provide the Forest Centre as an optional programme for 2 periods per week. SEN

children to get 5-10 periods per week. This will be built into the curriculum as one of the

optional subjects offered to all pupils.

6.3. Long term (2024)

Provide the Forest Centre as a full week, afternoon programme, which students can

apply for upon enrolling in the Etz Chaim School. Consequently this programme will be a

substitute for all of the student’s chol learning for the year.

Furthermore, the kodesh curriculum will also be expanded to include the Forest Centre

as part of the kodesh curriculum for the students who have applied. At this stage, it will

remain an optional programme limited to the students who actively express interest in

joining, and will run alongside the main Etz Chaim School.

6.4. Long term vision (approx. 2030 onwards)

An independent dedicated Forest Centre to be set up and based in the countryside. The

curriculum will be broadened significantly to include many more outdoor activities,

which will give them access to the full range of academic outcomes.

Upon leaving the school therefore, the students will not only have enhanced emotional

intelligence, but also be on the same academic level as the students within the main Etz

Chaim School, both in kodesh and chol.

7. Risks

7.1. Premises

Risk: Not finding appropriate premises for the Forest Centre.

Response: We are currently operating successfully from within the grounds of Etz Chaim

School. As the Forest Centre expands, we will continue to utilise this space, and also

share facilities will local charities such as Sow In the City and Social Adventures.

Eventually, as the programme gains momentum, the business for a new premises will be


7.2. Funding

Risk: Cannot raise the required funds.

Response: Currently, there are a number of SEN students on the programme who have

restricted funding through their EHPs. The Forest Centre is ideal for such students as it

matches their requires outcomes. Consequently, approx. 20% of the required funds are

already covered.

The remaining 80% will be covered by independent funders and grants. We are

confident that we can obtain significant funding from grants, as the development of the

local community and the mitigation of the environmental issues are high profile

throughout the world.

Independent funding is available as evidenced by the fact that we have already received

pledges by concerned philanthropists within the community who have an active interest

in developing a new structure to educate in a way which will be specifically aimed at

benefiting the mental health and well-being of the students. As programmes such as the

Forest Centre are high profile, and not currently available to the children in the local

Jewish community, we are confident that more donors will would like to contribute.

7.3. Ofsted

Risk: The Forest Centre fails to meet Ofsted requirements

Response: The Forest Centre are based within the frame of Etz Chaim School, which has

a experienced management structure in place, and excellent governance. They are well

versed in the Ofsted requirements and will ensure that the programmes will adhere to

all the Ofsted requirements.