WELCOME TO BRIGHT START COMMUNITY FOREST SCHOOL CIC
Transforming lives through nature
Bright Start Community Forest School is a non-profit community interest company set upon 3 acres of woodland, allotments and fruit orchards near Dane Valley Woods, Margate.
We offer alternative hands-on outdoor experiences for children and young people from all backgrounds and abilities who may struggle in a more traditional classroom setting. Our services follow a Forest school ethos of learner-centred sessions, providing individuals opportunities to engage in a variety of nature based crafts, activities and horticultural practices.
Staff facilitate rather than teach, celebrating the process rather than the result, where everyone is an individual and allowed to be themselves.
At Bright Start we passionately believe that every child and young person should have regular access to Woodlands and natural green spaces.
Studies show that being outside in woodlands and green spaces is extremely important to the learning and development of children and young people. We aim to give our young people opportunities to build a connection to the natural world, leading to an Increase in their physical health and mental wellbeing.
The Forest School (formally Thanet Community Forest School) was established in January 2018, set upon an overgrown landfil site in Dane Valley woods and allotments. The dream to provide an affordable and inclusive outdoor Woodland setting, increase the biodiversity of the area and provide a natural outdoor classroom for the young to engage have fun and learn. The Forest School is now a rich diverse young woodland, with several allotments. Hundreds of native trees, shrubs and thousands of woodland bulbs have been planted. With diverse wildlife habitats and organically grown fruit and vegetables. The Project continues with hundreds of our young people involved in its establishment, maintenance and development. A special mention to the Forest School's Founder, local Teacher and Forest School Practioner Luke Evans who's passion and commitment has helped to enrich the lives of many local children. Please note: The Wi-Fi connection at Forest School doesn’t always work but there is so much that does.
Coronavirus (COVID‑19) Bright Start Community Forest School CIC follow the latest government guidelines for an outdoor environment
BRIGHT START COMMUNITY FOREST SCHOOL CIC SERVICES
We provide services for children and young people offering bespoke 1:1 and small group sessions, including children and young people with special educational needs. We work with local schools, youth groups, the home educated and local Authorities.
HOME ED SESSIONS
Home Ed-Programme, running through school terms - offering a child-centred learning process of weekly sessions7 where children can engage in a range of hands-on activities and experiences that support free-play, exploration, creativity and supported risk taking. Learning and development is inspired through nature based arts & crafts, mud kitchen play, den building, games, nature hunts, camp-fires, bushcraft tool use,free-play, freedom, choices and responsibilities. The process and environment promotes and supports individuals physical, emotional and mental well-being, developing confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, physical and mental skills, knowledge and understanding of their natural surroundings and the environment.
Children are likely to get muddy and wet which is absolutely ok, but they do need to be dressed appropriately for the all weather conditions. They will also need to bring a packed lunch and plenty of fluids for the day. We do not supply hand sanitiser instead use tippy tap hand washing stations.
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S SERVICES
We offer bespoke services for children and young people on a one to one or small group basis. Aimed at those who are currently struggling in their educational setting. Our hands-on learning environment supports the development of life skills such as communication, problem-solving, risk-taking, Independence, self-directed learning and creativity. Improving social and emotional development, self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem. Our aim is to provide a relaxed, safe and supportive atmosphere where individuals are given choice and structure. Where the experience is a alternative, informal, holistic learning experience. Sessions are learner-centred and facilitated by qualified and experienced staff. We prioritise the young persons needs and interests, engagement is at a pace suitable for them and we celebrate their experiences and enjoyment of the process rather than the end result. We provide opportunities to learn and develop through a range of outdoor hands-on activities, including growing fruit and vegetables, woodland management, campfire cooking, a variety of green bush-crafts and nature based arts and crafts.
Academic terms times only - bookings are required a term in advance. Prices are based upon the individuals needs and requirements. Starting at £135 for half-day programmes,
During the autumn of 2021 and the summer of 2022 we ran a series of sessions aimed at young people who had struggled through the pandemic. With us they were able to spend time in a safe, relaxing, therapeutic outdoor Woodland environment. Explore, engage in a variety of activities, relax, catch up, socialise around the campfire, enjoy campfire cooking and be themselves. Sessions were funded by the KCC reconnect programme and Quarterdeck Youth hub Margate. In the October of 2022 KCC Reconnect announced the winner's of it's Community awards. Our very own Fran was nominated and shortlisted under the category of Outstanding Individual. At the award ceremony Fran received a Highly Commended certificate for her work with our young people - big congratulations Fran
PROJECTS - WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL OUR SUPPORTERS FOR THEIR DONATIONS
Allotments: Our next project for 2022 is further development of our allotments with a children’s play area to be established with equipment donated by Bright Start Nurseries. A multi-purpose Space to include a classroom, workshop and small kitchen is also to be established upon the allotments through funding kindly donated by the wooden spoon charity. This project will provide opportunities for all our children and young people from schools, local youth groups, community organisations and our Home educated groups to join us In growing organically fruit and vegetables. We are pleased to share our space with Thanet British Lions Who will be growing produce to disperse in the local community.
ACADEMIC YEAR 2022 - 23
All sessions for this year are fully booked. Please contact us regarding services for the Academic year 2023-24
Position: Bright Start Community Forest School CIC are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic Forest School Practitioner to join it’s Forest School team, during Term times. You will be self-motivated and a good communicator. You should be able to confidently deliver sessions and engage with children ranging in age from 5 to 16 within small groups and a one-to-one basis. If you are interested and would like to know more please send your CV for the attention of the Forest School project manager to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact us to arrange a visit and meet the team
We are open all year except Bank holidays and Christmas/New Year’s
Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm
Early evening’s & Saturdays services by arrangement
Feedback from a local school
A child who attends our school setting has been benefitting from the Bright Start Community Forest School since Christmas, having 1:2 sessions with adults. The reason we referred this child to Bright Start was because, despite having play therapy, working closely with the Specialist Teaching Service, having 1:1 support in school, counselling etc, he was still finding life extremely challenging and, through conducting a THRIVE assessment we realised there were gaps in his early childhood experiences that needed to be filled. The work with Specialist Teachers illustrated that many sensory and outdoor activities had been missed by this child and, although we could work closely with him to build trust and confidence, it was evident that he needed to be challenged in a physical, outdoor environment that is 'safe'. Since attending these sessions weekly, we have seen accelerated progress in his self-regulation, resilience and perseverance as well as his ability to trust less familiar adults. The gaps from many missed early childhood experiences are now being met (i.e. cause and effect). Prior to his forest school journey, we had a boy who was unable to be in a mainstream school around other children, even on a reduced timetable and now we have one who is coping with some whole class sessions on a full-time timetable. The change has been rapid and we do believe that this is because Forest School provided the opportunity to meet needs that could not be met in school.
Post from a parent
............. has had the best few days with you. I can’t usually get two words out of him about his day when I collect him from school but it’s a different story when he comes home from forest school and wants to share all of his adventures! Thank you for embracing him as his crazy and energetic self whilst he’s with you, I can’t begin to describe what a pleasure it is to see the joy he gets from his days with you…. He comes home tired, dirty and full of confidence! Thank you!
Feedback from a parent
My son started Bright Start Forest School in March and prior to this was very anxious and would never want to leave me or attend anything independently. He hadn’t felt confident to mix with children in the meetings with other Home Ed families but the caring and holistic nature of the community at Bright Start means that he has slowly started to mix, feel confident and has made friends with the other children who attend. It took several months for him to slowly allow me to leave and I was able to do this gradually and without upset.
The consistency of the sessions being weekly, having freedom of choice of how they spend their day, having a wonderful outdoor setting in which to spend their time and having the same children attend every week has made such a difference to him. The staff have gone out of their way to support him and provide what each child has needed at various times and the group of children have really gained so much from attending. Catching newts, frogs and learning about nature has been wonderful for him.
The confidence my son has shown since starting is obvious to everyone who sees him regularly and he now mixes much better in other settings and Home Ed meets. I can not thank everyone enough for providing this outlet for Home Educated children. In a system where children seem to be either ‘in’school or ‘out’ there are very few settings like Bright Start Forest School where children can mix independently of their parents. Especially, settings who understand and share the child-led values that many Home Educating families aspire to. This is why we have valued so much the opportunity for our son to attend in a setting like this, meet children in mixed age groups and have the freedom to develop at his own pace in a supportive environment, taking his first steps of independence. Thank you so much
BRIGHT START COMMUNITY FOREST SCHOOL CIC TEAM
Lead Support Worker