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Friday 18th October 2019

Thanks to the generosity of three Oxford councillors, Science Oxford has been able to reopen a Forest School space in the woodland at its new Stansfeld Park home in Headington.

Councillors Glynis Phillips, Roz Smith and Chewe Munkonge have all donated funds to support the project to develop a special area of the woodland that could be used solely by local Forest Schools. Nurseries and schools used to use the woodland for Forest School when the site was owned by Birmingham City Council.  Mike Dennis, Science Oxford Centre Manager, explains, “Sadly, the woods had become very overgrown and unsafe in recent years so the Forest Schools had to stop. When our parent charity – The Oxford Trust – bought the site in 2016, we made it a priority to rejuvenate a section of the woodland especially for Forest School groups to use.”

Forest School offers people of all ages regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. The benefits of being outdoors and engaged with nature have long been known; Forest Schools enable participants to develop confidence to explore and discover, experience risk and challenge and develop positive relationships with themselves and others.

The Science Oxford Centre at Stansfeld Park sits in 15 acres of woodland, grassland and ponds. The woodland is used for a variety of outdoor STEM learning experiences that are linked to indoor activities – such as a hands-on exhibition space and theatre shows. The Forest School area sits in a pretty, shaded glade within the woodland, complete with logs and trees for climbing and set behind a specially-made Forest School gate.

Mike Dennis says, “Local school children can to walk to the site and several schools are already visiting regularly. Its lovely to hear them out playing in the woods and great know that we’re helping them to develop confidence and valuable life skills. We very grateful to Glynis, Chewe and Roz for their support.”

Roz Smith, County Councillor for Headington & Quarry and City Councillor for Risinghurst & Sandhills, says, “Having campaigned for years to keep Forest Schools at Stansfeld Park, I am delighted that our local school children will be able continue to explore and understand the natural environment.  This is a fantastic local educational space; thank you Science Oxford!”

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