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Local woodlands played a key role in helping young children to prepare for the daunting step up to high school.
Pupils from seven primary schools in the Llandovery area spent a day getting to know older children in Cwm Rhaeadr woodland before making the move to Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn in September.
The “transition day” was organised by Forestry Commission Wales education officer Kate Elias and involved 95 children who took part in a variety of activities aimed at building relationships and dispelling any fears about stepping up to secondary education.
The day was organised after a local head teacher approached FC Wales forest district manager Neil Stoddard seeking help to ease the children’s passage to the high school.
A total of 52 year six children (aged 10 and 11) from feeder primary schools mingled with 43 year seven pupils aged 11 and 12 who had moved up to Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn last year.
Neil said, “Moving school can be a stressful time for children and we were pleased to host a transition day for the eight local schools in our woodlands.
“The day helped to introduce all the children to each other, but it also gave us a real opportunity to share with our future generation the value of woodlands and trees to society, and show them that woodlands can be great places to learn and have fun.”
Teachers helped FC Wales staff to supervise the children as they walked a mile from the forest car park along the waterfall walk trail through the woods to the Llandovery Scouts hut, which was used as the base for the day.
Along the way, they searched for woodland items to match adjective and colour cards and then split into four groups to take on different activities, all designed to promote communication and teamwork.
They made wood cookie name badges and turned hollowed out pieces of cut elder into beads held together by string.
They also played games about woodland trees and animals to promote teamwork and communication, and used their maths skills during a “carbon calculator” activity to measure trees and work out the amount of carbon stored inside.
The children then enjoyed a picnic lunch together in the woods before walking back to the car park.
Education officer Kate said, “The main objective for the day was for the primary and secondary school children to get to know each other and build relationships.
“This will help to ease the transition for the year 6 children who will now know other children when they move up to the high school in September and be able to settle in more easily.”
The FC Wales Woodlands for Learning team introduces hundreds of children throughout Wales to woodland education every year, but most events usually only involve a class from one school with no more than 30 children at a time.
Kate added, “This event was unusual but was a great example of how communities can become involved in their local woodlands.”
Helen Walters, a teacher at Ysgol Rhys Pritchard, Llandovery, said, “The children had a thoroughly enjoyable day inter-mingling with their peers in a woodland environment. It was a fun day but very educational at the same time.”
The primary schools who took part in the transition day were Ysgol Rhys Pritchard, Llandovery, Llansadwrn CP School, Cil-y-cwm VC School, Capel Cynfab VC School, Cynghordy, Llanwrda CP School, Llangadog CP School, and Talley CP School, along with Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn (secondary school), Llandovery.
Caption: Children take a breather during the “getting to know you” transition day at Cwm Rhaeadr.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
The Woodlands for Learning team delivers woodland-based learning experiences throughout Wales, supports the development and delivery of Forest School and facilitates the Forest Education Initiative on behalf of its partners.
For more information on woodland education in the Llandovery area, contact Kate Elias on 0300 068 0282, mobile 07768 457292, email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com