A SPECIAL school in Padgate has a new space for its pupils to explore nature.

Green Lane Community Special School has been developing its outside learning area with support from the Mersey Forest since 2017.

The 'wild and wonderful' green space allows youngsters to take part in weekly forest school sessions which have made them 'happier, healthier and more well-rounded'.

Warrington Guardian:

Teacher Teri King and assistant head Lynne Ledgard have been crucial in creating the wildlife garden, fire circle, bug hotels and leafy walkways.

Teri said: "We are always looking at innovative ideas to engage all pupils, and children with additional needs sometimes need more stimulating ways to learn.

"It has been really lovely to see the impact the forest school has had on our kids and the school as a whole.

"I get regularly asked 'when are we doing forest school next Mrs King?' – and it’s great to see the enthusiasm."

Mersey Forest director Paul Nolan believes the scheme shows 'how valuable it is to get children out of the classroom and learning in nature'.

He added: "Forest school is a very positive way for pupils to learn and engage – it’s enjoyable, stress-relieving and calming for the pupils and there have been wonderful changes in the children at Green Lane Community Special School.

Warrington Guardian:

“It’s great to be able to give these children an amazing opportunity to learn outdoors, but there are also huge health and wellbeing benefits too.

“We know that being outdoors is good for us, and new research shows that growing up with access to green spaces is vital for children’s mental health.

"Through projects such as Trees for Learning, not only are we creating a legacy where children can grow as their trees do, we’re hopefully also contributing to making them happier and healthier too.”

Amongst the pupils to have benefitted from the forest school sessions are Alethea Taylor and Leo Silvester.

Leo has learning difficulties, as well as health issues which require him to use a wheelchair.

Teri said: "Leo has loved going out to forest school from the start.

"He lights up, is more cooperative, listens more carefully – and although he is not a fan of creepy crawlies he takes time to look at this environment and creatures around him and takes care not to hurt any insects, showing a lot of interest in them."

Alethea, a 'happy young person who likes to laugh and for others to be happy' finds written tasks difficult and requires one-to-one support.

Mrs King added: "She’s fascinated by nature, the weather and making the fire –she loves eating outside too.

"She listens intently to what the forest school leader is saying, and uses her own initiative to carry out activities and to play games.

"Alethea moves around quicker and is far more engaged in what is going on in forest school than she ever is in the classroom."