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Policies & Procedures

Introduction

Inside Out Forest School is an outdoor learning experience that children of all ages and abilities can have fun with.

Places to all our sessions are limited and are allocated on a booking service until maximum numbers are reached.

All booking forms and payments must be received before attendance to forest school holiday camps or forest school parties.

Inside Out Forest School is open to all young people from all ethnic, cultural, religious and social groups.

Confidentiality

Staff and volunteers will not discuss individual children or young people with people other than the parent/carer of that young person other than for the purposes planning or group management.

If the personal safety of a young person is in question the Child protection policy will override confidentiality on a need-to-know basis.

Information about children with additional needs will remain confidential to Inside Out staff and volunteers.

Equal opportunities

Staff and volunteers at Inside Out Forest School will ensure that no person will be discriminated against because of their gender, race, skin colour, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.

All our policies, procedures and activities are representative of the principles that all persons are equal and will receive equal treatment within Inside Out Forest School.

Arrivals and departures

A signed up-to-date consent form must be received before children and young people arrive.
All forest school participants will; be registered by a member of staff on arrival.

No young person is allowed to make their own way home unless permission is given on the consent form.

Only the person/s marked on the registration form will be allowed to collect that young person unless otherwise indicated by a responsible adult.

Uncollected children will remain at the site until a parent/carer can be contacted.

Normal Operating Procedure (NOP)

This is a brief outline for all staff that are working with young people in the outdoors. All sessions will be run by a trained Forest School Leader. Further trained staff, teachers/youth workers, volunteers and parent/carers may also be present at sessions. These additional assistants may not have a formal qualification but will have received a briefing on the activity and the basic use of equipment. They will also be made aware of the risk assessment and the safety measures to be sanctioned to reduce the risks.

Kit

Kit for all sessions:
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone
  • Risk assessment
  • Activity notes
  • Spare clothes / sun cream (as appropriate)
  • Water
  • Snacks

Staff working ratios

The following ratios apply:
  • 1:2 for children aged under 2.
  • 1:4 for children aged 2 and over but under 5.
  • 1:8 for children aged 5 and over but under 12.
  • 1:10 for children aged 12 and over but under 18.
N.B. Some activities may require higher ratios as designated by the session leader.

Safety policy

All forest school participants, parents/carers, staff and volunteers will be registered on arrival. Adults are made aware of the system for arrivals and departures.

Parents/carers should provide any necessary specialised treatments required for themselves or their children, including any dietary, medical and behavioural needs.

We aim to make children, parent/carers and staff aware of health and safety issues and to minimise the hazards and risks to enable the children to thrive.

Children learn about health, safety and personal hygiene through the activities we provide and the routines we follow including basic hygiene of hand washing, covering mouths when sneezing/coughing, using paper towels, disposing of tissues etc.

A basic first aid kit is kept for the treatment of minor injuries by qualified staff.

A record of all incidents is kept. A mobile telephone will be carried. At least one member of staff present will have current first aid training.

The first aid qualification includes first aid training for infants and young children. Our first aid kit: complies with the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 2013; is regularly checked by a designated member of staff and restocked as necessary; we will administer plasters if the need arises.

Parent/carers who are aware of an allergy to any type of plaster should advise when completing their child’s registration form which also gives parent/carers’ written permission for emergency medical advice or treatment is sought.

Parent/carers sign and date their written approval.

Any injury requiring General Practitioner or hospital treatment to a child, parent/carer, volunteer or visitor is reported to the local office of the Health and Safety Executive.

Staff understand the first aid procedures for HIV and AIDS, the disposal of sanitary waste and uphold hygiene regulations accordingly. Protective equipment will be used by staff when dealing with spills of bodily fluids.

Only persons who have been checked for criminal records by an enhanced disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau have unsupervised access to the children, including helping them with toileting.

Site and equipment are regularly checked for cleanliness, damage or hazards and are dealt with accordingly and immediately. Dangerous items are repaired or discarded.

Large equipment is erected with care and checked regularly.

Children are taught to handle and store tools safely. All materials — including paint and glue — are nontoxic. Children do not have unsupervised access to hazardous materials.

Smoking is prohibited on site.

Fire safety equipment is checked regularly and staff know how to use it.

Fire Policy

  • Fires are an important part of Inside Out Forest School so we aim to ensure that all children and adults participating in sessions with fires are aware of any aspects of the fire safety measures that affect them.
  • Fires will only be lit in designated areas
  • Seating is at least 1.5 metres from the fire pit
  • Children must be supervised whilst around the fire at all times and the fire is never left unattended by staff of Inside Out Forest School
  • When accessing or moving around the fire, children must walk around the outside of circle, then remain sitting whilst they are around the fire
  • Shoes must always be worn
  • Children/staff are not permitted to throw anything onto the fire
  • Fires will not be lit in strong winds
  • No flammable liquids or plastics are to be used on the fire
  • The fire blanket/heat proof gloves are always on hand during fire sessions
  • At the end of the session, the fire must be extinguished with water until all smoke and steam has ceased
  • Only adults are permitted to light fires, unless children are under the direct supervision of a member

Behaviour policy

At Inside Out Forest School we believe that our sessions should have a profound and positive effect on the way children and young people relate to each other and the world around them. We encourage the shyest of children, and the most confident leaders, to develop new skills and make friends.

We believe that all members of a group flourish when they know how they are expected to behave and when they are free to develop their play and learning without fear of being hurt or unfairly restricted by anyone else.

We are committed to establishing a learning environment in which group members develop self-discipline and positive self-esteem as they take increasing responsibility for themselves and their actions, and as they consider the well being of others.

We actively promote positive behaviour, where children treat each other with care and respect and focus on activities that require sharing, negotiation and cooperation.

We engender a ‘can do’ attitude by supporting all participants to develop their understanding of risk taking and dealing with challenges.

Staff will encourage children to grow in confidence by learning new skills through interacting with and exposure to natural learning tools.

Our sessions enable participants to learn through what they encounter and through what they discover to actively learning the skills of enquiry, experiment, feedback, reflection, review and cooperative learning.

Positive behaviour will be reinforced with praise and encouragement.

Inside Out Forest School requires all staff and volunteers to provide a positive role model by behaving in a friendly, caring and courteous manner towards everyone involved in our sessions.

We will use positive strategies for resolving conflict by helping children and others to find age/development appropriate solutions.

Forest school participants are encouraged to be responsible for their own actions (getting wet), learning survival techniques (making a shelter or fire lighting), becoming independent (gathering own kit together for a hike) or learning simple navigation.

It must be made clear that it is the behaviour that is unacceptable, not the person.

Unacceptable behaviour will be challenged in a calm and assertive manner.

Serious incidents or persistent occurrences of unacceptable behaviour will be recorded on incident forms and could lead to exclusion from Inside Out Forest School.

We only use physical restraint, such as holding, to prevent physical injury to children or adults and/or serious damage to property. Details of such an event (what happened, what action was taken and by whom, and the names of witnesses) are recorded in our Incident Book. A parent/carer is informed on the same day and signs the Incident Book to indicate that he/she has been informed.

Child protection policy

All our staff and volunteers are DBS checked and applicants for posts within Inside Out Forest School are clearly informed that the positions are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Candidates are informed of the need to carry out checks before posts can be confirmed. Where applications are rejected because of information that has been disclosed, applicants have the right to know and to challenge incorrect information.
  • Volunteers do not work unsupervised.
  • We abide by the Protection of Children Act requirements in respect of any person who is dismissed from our employment, or resigns in circumstances that would otherwise have led to dismissal for reasons of child protection concern.
  • We have procedures for recording the details of visitors to Inside Out Forest School and take steps to ensure that that no unauthorized person has unsupervised access to the children.
  • Where a member of staff or a volunteer is dismissed from Inside Out Forest School or internally disciplined because of misconduct relating to a child, we notify the Department of Health administrators so that the name may be included on the List for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.
  • Our policy in a situation where we feel that a child may be suffering from neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse is that at all times the child's wellbeing and safety is of paramount importance.
  • We will follow a setting’s policy. Should we then feel a situation arises where we need to contact Social Services then we have an obligation to protect the child.

Special Educational Needs Policy

Our workshops will all take place in the freedom of open woodland to encourage unbounded creativity to build confidence and empower inquiring minds. We understand that play is essential for physical and emotional growth, for mental, intellectual and educational development, and for acquiring social and behavioural skills. Our staff have experience in managing additional learning and social needs and our founder holds a post-graduate certificate in Autistic Spectrum Conditions.

We welcome children with special needs and consult with all carers to make any changes or adaptations to our sessions to meet children’s specific needs.

Children who require a one-to-one worker within the educational establishment would be expected to have their carer accompany them. They would not be counted within staffing ratios.

We work in partnership with parent/carers, the education establishment and other agencies in meeting individual children’s needs.

We aim to have regard to the DFES Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs and also the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (as amended by the Special Educational Needs Act of 2014).

We have a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and ensure that children access a safe and secure learning environment.

Employment and volunteer policy

Eligibility
All our staff and volunteers are committed to delivering high quality learning experiences and we pride ourselves on bringing enthusiasm, knowledge and nurturing to all our sessions. Our staff carry valid and current DBS checks, volunteers are supervised at all times and do not have unsupervised access to children. Employees and volunteers are fully informed of our confidentiality and safeguarding procedures.

Appointment
All staff and volunteers are required to have a basic knowledge of the environment and the Inside Out Forest School Ethos. An interest in working with children and a focus on outdoor learning is also essential.

We offer:
  • Student internships
  • Work experience
  • DofE service activity
  • Personal development

We provide volunteers with a short induction on how Inside Out Forest School is managed, how our sessions are organised and give access to our policies and procedures at the first session of their placement.

The needs and welfare of the children attending sessions is paramount at all times.

Equipment and tool use policy

We use a variety equipment, resources and tools during all our forest school sessions, including our children’s parties, to enhance and extend knowledge, skills, interests and aptitudes. We provide a sufficient quantity of equipment and resources for the number of children. We provide equipment and resources which promote continuity and progression, provide sufficient challenge and meet the needs and interests of all children. Our activities include made, natural and recycled materials which are safe and well-maintained.
  • We check all resources and equipment regularly. We repair and clean, or replace any unsafe, worn out, dirty or damaged equipment.
  • We plan the provision of activities and appropriate resources so that a balance of familiar equipment and resources and new exciting challenges is offered.

Our tools include: potato peelers, loppers, small hacksaws, bow saws and sheath knives. All forest school participants will be introduced to the tools in a structured way with the emphasis on teaching tool safely.
The following guidelines in tool safety will be followed:
  • All staff and children will be trained in correct and safe use of all tools and handsaws etc
  • All children will be supervised by adults whilst using tools
  • All tools to be returned to the tool bag after use and checked

Illness and infection control policy

If a child has an infectious disease or contagious illness e.g. measles, mumps, chicken pox; he/she must not attend until the recommended incubation period is passed.

If a child has vomited or had diarrhoea within the last 24 hours they must not attend.

Children with head lice must not attend until treated to safeguard the health of other children and staff.

Wild Toileting Policy

Inside Out Forest School provides a range of outdoor toileting options for children participating in all our sessions, parties and day-long forest camps.  Due to the natural forest environment and the changeable weather conditions, we appreciate that some children are less confident than others at wild toileting, so we strive to offer lavatorial facilities that even the most reluctant wild toileter is comfortable with.

Dug Latrine
We are equipped with hand trowels for digging small holes for human waste disposal. Deposits are then re-covered with soil to seal in any contaminants.  A bucket of natural foliage of soil and woodchips is stored at base camp for additional coverage.

Porta Loo
There is a lockable portacabin with a flush toilet at our Leek Forest School site and a brick clubhouse with separate male/female toilets and handwashing facilities at our Glossop site.

Behind a Tree
Always a popular option for boys! Our sites have many thick-trunked trees that offer ample privacy. The Inside Out team encourage all participants to use a tree that is at least 5 metres from our activity areas but within the boundaries of our Forest base camp.

Nappy Bucket
A lidded nappy bucket and sanitised changing mat are provided at all our Little Explorer sessions as well as nappy sacks and baby wipes. Soiled and wet nappies are disposed of into the nappy bucket which is emptied and cleaned at the end of each session.

Potty
A toddler potty is available for use at all our Little Explorer sessions to encourage continuity in toilet-training. Following use, the potty is emptied into a dug latrine and then sanitised with antibacterial wipes.

Tree bog
This option is not currently available at either of our Forest School sites.
However, It is something that we are thinking of implementing in the near future.

Shewee
This is a portable female urinating device that is available for older girls who are participating in our sessions and the female parents/carers of Little Explorers. The shewee can be used behind a tree for privacy. Following use, it is cleaned with antibacterial wipes.

Hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and baby wipes are provided at all our sessions to enable best practice hygiene.

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