Wild Bee Forest School wins Super Oxplorer title!

Wild Bee Forest School, Rock Edge, Headington

We asked you to name a Super Oxplorer, a company or person based in Oxfordshire who is enthusiastic and committed about getting kids outside. Well, you nominated in your droves and there was a clear winner: Wild Bee Forest School!

We got the opportunity to quiz Bea Searle, founder of Wild Bee Forest School, on her passion for the outdoors and we think it abundantly clear; she is a true Super Oxplorer!

How did you first hear about, and become interested in, Forest School?

I heard about forest school when my son was tiny. I did some research and really liked the ethos and idea. I’ve always been outdoorsy and wanted my kids to spend lots of time outside too! When my daughter Megan was born, my son was two and I discovered Heart of the Wildwood who still run a Monday morning session in Wheatley. I used to take my son to their sessions with Megan in the sling and I soon started volunteering for them regularly.

Bea Searle, founder of Wild Bee Forest School, with daughter Megan

When did you become a Forest School Leader?

I started my training at Hill End almost two years ago now and finally got my certificate a year ago. The training is very thorough and requires practical assessments as well as lots of written work on things like learning theory and risk.

When did you set up Wild Bee Forest School and why?

Forest School is amazing and everyone should do it! The kids (and their adults) get so much out of it. It is lovely to facilitate that and to see kids learning and developing through child led play in a rich environment like a woodland. I was very lucky that as soon as I qualified I became the Forest School Leader for the local school that I’d previously been volunteering at. I don’t want to be working full time as my kids are still young, but I was keen to get a bit more work and I know I want to work more as the kids get older. I decided on the name and set up the website over the winter and the council agreed on my use of Rock Edge for a Forest School toddler group (something I’d been pushing for) soon after. The group has been a big hit — I’ve been so delighted with the response I’ve had and can’t wait to start up again through autumn and winter — it’s just as much fun in the colder months (and often even more beautiful).

Mud kitchen, Wild Bee Forest School

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for getting kids outdoors?

Hmmm. There are a lot. Often I think it is the parents / carers who are not keen on the weather or the mess! Kids usually love being outside even in the rain or cold and it is so good for them to be so engrossed in their play that they get thoroughly dirty. The key is good outerwear and warm layers — to keep them warm and dry and clean underneath!

Wild Bee Forest School

Top tips for getting kids out and about this summer holidays and engaging with nature?

Just turn off the telly and iPad and go outside! Even the back garden or a park have lots to explore. Camping is a fab and cheap way of getting back to nature — kids LOVE it (don’t expect much sleep…)! We are very lucky in Oxford with lots of wild space even right in the centre of our city but Shotover just outside Headington is a favourite of ours. A key part of the Forest School ethos is to take the child’s lead — so once you’re outside, let them do what they want. If they just want to lie on their backs looking at clouds, that’s just as OK as enthusiastically hunting for mini-beasts!

Wild Bee Forest School runs every Thursday during term time at Rock Edge Nature Reserve in Headington, from 10–11.30 am. £5 per child or £8 for two siblings. No charge for non-walkers and adults. Online booking option coming soon, drop ins also welcome, keep an eye on the Facebook page for regular updates. Wild Bee Forest School returns on the 6th September.

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