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Sowing the seeds of success! First Forest School pupils re-unite to mark 12 years of outdoor learning at Houghton Hall

PUBLISHED: 18:02 05 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 March 2017

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

Making fires and cooking food down in the woods may have seemed a novel approach to learning at the time.

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

But 12 years on some of the first Forest School pupils have returned to the Norfolk country estate that helped to sow the seeds of their success.

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Lord Cholmondeley joins the class for marshmallows.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Lord Cholmondeley joins the class for marshmallows. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Houghton Hall owner Lord Cholmondeley helped pilot the new approach to outdoor learning back in 2005 welcoming a group of pupils from nearby Litcham School. Kate Boardman was amongst those sharing happy memories of spending schooldays with friends at Houghton. Reepham College student Kate, 17, said: “Forest Schools were an unforgettable and invaluable experience. The weeks of trips to Houghton Hall always fuelled me with excitement and allowed me to explore attributes that I never realized I had. Forest School vastly improved my communication skills and deepened my friendships with classmates with whom I still enjoy spending time. The hours within the woods allowed me to excel physically and discover my true love of sport and the outdoors.”

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

The group of teenagers were invited along to join Lord Cholmondeley at the special celebration event on Sunday, where they gathered by a fire to toast marshmallows.

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time.
Some of the original first group, Abbi Richards, Lauren Makins, Kate Boardman, William Falch-Lovesey, Oliver Musgrave.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Some of the original first group, Abbi Richards, Lauren Makins, Kate Boardman, William Falch-Lovesey, Oliver Musgrave. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Oli Musgrave, 17, who is now studying A-levels at Reepham College said:

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

“Although I was bright at primary school, I guess I was lively and got distracted easily. However, Forest School engaged me in such a different way. I loved the practical side of making fires and cooking food in order to survive in the outdoors. It gave me a respect for those teaching me in school and made me focus.”

In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Lord Cholmondeley joins the class for marshmallows.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017 In 2005 Forest School was launched at Houghton Hall. Some of the first pupils have returned to celebrate the anniversary with new pupils trying out the school for the first time. Lord Cholmondeley joins the class for marshmallows. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Forest schools originated from Scandinavia, and are based on the principle that time, space and contact with the natural environment are key to a child’s development. Now a fully developed training programme, Houghton Education is available to all schools in Norfolk and free travel, funded by a Cholmondeley family trust, is provided to those within a 20 mile radius. Lord Cholmondeley said: “The Houghton Education programme is a tremendous collaboration between Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the estate. I am extremely proud that Houghton has provided and continues to provide an outdoor “classroom” to so many pupils in schools across Norfolk.”

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