Forest schools are branching out from the Rother Valley to India

Back to camp and a hot drink''Picture by Louise Adams C130596-8 Mid BTH Helen
Back to camp and a hot drink''Picture by Louise Adams C130596-8 Mid BTH Helen

IF YOU go down to the woods today, you’ll probably find schoolchildren learning everything they need to know about the forest.

Helen Martin, head teacher of the Lavington Park Federation of Duncton Junior and Graffham Infant School, has used forest schools to transform education across the Rother Valley, where 16 schools are now teaching children about their rural surroundings.

And now, after a trip to India, Mrs Martin has something else to bring to the table – linking up with an academy-type school in Bangalore so the children can share their experiences and learning.

She’s given the children the opportunity to appreciate what is on their doorstep and now she wants to widen their horizons too.

The new link made with the TVS Academy in Bangalore will give the children a taste of Indian culture, something Mrs Martin thinks is very important.

After a second visit to Southern India at Easter with seven other teachers, she made a link with the TVS Academy, which is sponsored by a business.

“Just like academies in this country, they have a lot to do with it. They want the best students to go and work in their company. These are not low-ability children,” said Mrs Martin.

“They are really forward-looking families who want the best for their children. All children in India have an enormous respect for their education.”

Now, two teachers from the academy school will visit the Duncton and Graffham schools this week, and teach the children about Indian culture, how to make chapatis and teach them yoga.

“What I want to come from this is to break the stereotype down and for our children to see the Indian culture as something to respect and learn from. There are so many experiences they can share.

“We have a huge amount to learn from Indian culture, it is just amazing.”

The two schools will do certain activities together and share their experiences over Skype and email. The children will write letters to each other to find out more about each other’s cultures.

“I want to influence their thinking about the developing countries in the world and how we can learn from them,” said Mrs Martin.

“The strength of family, the strength of support for Indian education and work ethic is just phenomenal.

“The concept of Indian time – everything happens when it happens – that view of time that is very much in our forest school.”