Explorer Ben Fogle, officially opened the revamped Rupert House Forest School at their playing fields on the Fairmile this morning.
The Forest School now includes a large shelter, a pond, bug hotel, swings, a see-saw, vegetable patches and campfire circle.
Ben Fogle said, “Thank you for having me today. You are very lucky. I want to come this school because you have the best forest school I’ve ever seen. Congratulations to all the staff and parents who have made this happen who have put so much work into this.” He then spoke to the children about his adventures he had been on including being one of very few people who have swam with crocodiles. He added, “My real passion is about spending time outdoors and I love big challenges. The reason I do this is the world is such an exciting place to go and travel and explore. It doesn’t matter if you get a big wet or cold as long as you are dressed up well, the most important thing is you make the most of all of these amazing opportunities and maybe one day once you have experienced this over the next few years, some of you will become explorers of the future. Next week I’m off to film in active volcano where I have to wear a special suit. I hope this will inspire you.” On cutting the ribbon, Ben joked, “I should have brought my machete as I didn’t know there was an official cutting.”
Parent Lewis Wilkie from Rustic Bear who did the building work said, “I had a meeting with Mr Armitage and Mrs Steer who said we’ve got a few ideas but we need a fresh set of eyes so I came in and had a look around the site and thought they had the makings of really good space. They needed more… they wanted a bug hotel, a log store, vegetable patches etc. My company’s ethos is to reuse/recycle and so there are no material costs here, just labour. Everything has either been reclaimed or recycled. I’m really pleased with the bug hotel as all the ones I saw online you could only get to from the front. The one I have designed here can be accessed from all four sides and they can get up and into it too.”
Headteacher, Mr Nick Armitage, “We want to continue to develop the space here as there is so much space here. Outdoor learning is what it is all about, we don’t need to be stuck in classrooms all the time, we can learn just as effectively or more so outside. It was one the main reasons that we have invested in this facility. We are hugely grateful to the Friends of Rupert House for the support they have given to this through fundraising. Lots of people have helped to make this a reality including Mr Wilkie and the real brains behind this is Mrs Steer. We’re really keen that this facility can be used by others like the local Beavers, Cubs in the community.”
Mrs Steer talking to the children said, “Just please really enjoy it. Shall we grow some vegetables and can we fill up the bug hotel and do some investigations and explore the lovely pond. Shall all we make promise to look after it and to love it.”
Pupil Anya Rose from Year 1 said, “Our new forest school is great. My favourite bits are the bug hotel and the pond. I love that there is now another swing at forest school too so that two people can now have a go at the same time.”