A housing association in West Yorkshire has transformed an overgrown patch of woodland into an outdoor ‘forest classroom’ for pupils at a local school.
The patch of land in Horsforth, Leeds, is situated next to one of Leeds & Yorkshire Housing Association’s (LYHA) developments and is only 50 metres from the gates of Horsforth Featherbank Primary School.
After the housing association transformed the land into a community garden, it was quickly adopted by the school as an outdoor classroom. The children were asked to suggest and vote on a name for the outdoor space — with Featherbank Forest proving the favoured choice.
Working in partnership with the school and conservation volunteers, LYHA’s team developed the space over the last few months.
Joanna Chambers, LYHA’s head of home and growth, said: “We have created an outdoor classroom made of logs covered by a tarpaulin (so it can be used in all weathers), together with a fire pit, structures to make dens, a see-saw, climbing frame and wooden xylophone, which all embrace the outdoor learning ethos.
“We have also installed railings around the site to ensure it is secure. It has been a really exciting project to work on and we are delighted that it will bring tangible benefits to the school and local families.”
Lorraine Scudder, the school’s headteacher, added: “The whole school is really excited about it. It’s fantastic to have somewhere where we can investigate science and deliver all aspects of the curriculum in a safe, natural, outside space, in close proximity to the school.
“We are hoping that our children are given lots of opportunities to use the space to its full potential. Our teachers and governing body are passionate about encouraging the use of outdoor spaces and developing links with the surrounding community. We’d like to thank LYHA for their hard work and generosity in donating this space to us. We are sure that it will enrich the children’s learning and add to their enjoyment of their time in school.”
The pupils are understandably excited about the new outdoor space: “It’s really good. The best bits are the climbing frame and see-saw. I can’t wait to play on them with my friends,” said six-year-old Holly Rule.
Ben Bottomley, also aged 6, added: “It’s epic. I love it.”
The site sits next to LYHA’s Rosemary Thompson House development on Burley Lane in Horsforth, which provides family homes and apartments (for over 55s) in a popular and expensive area, where affordable housing is hard to come by.
The development has quite a history, as the site (including the woodland) was originally bequeathed to the housing provider in the will of a life-long Horsforth resident who wanted the land be developed into social housing.
Legal delays meant it took a few years to come to fruition, but LYHA completed the scheme in May 2018. It was fully let immediately, and all the homes were allocated to people with an existing connection to Horsforth.