This has been the hardest blog to write. But after much thought, my husband and I have decided to pull our son out of his Danish forest school.
The decision was really made for us – after three senior members of staff decided to quit. We didn’t find this out from the management, but through the parent grapevine. At the same time another ‘pedagogue’ (teacher) who has also been a great support to us went off sick – the rumour was with stress.
For most of December, parents were being asked to accompany children out to the forest, just to ensure there were enough adults to keep it operating. What became hardest for us was that Charlie just didn’t want to go anymore. Every day it became a battle to get him out the door.
The parents have formed an action group to try to force the management, run by Copenhagen municipality, to change tack. But we just didn’t feel we had time to wait.
I’ve since learnt that the problems started two years ago when the ‘kommune’ (council) decided to force børnehave (kindergartens) into cluster groups in order to save money. In so doing, they removed independent heads and replaced them with one overall leader. In our case that leader is trying to run four kindergartens, leaving staff on the ground to sort out the ensuing mess. It’s an impossible task – as our staff have demonstrated, by voting with their feet.
Forest schools are an expensive business. But for many years, they have been a unique feature of Scandinavian education. Look at the number of UK schools now trying to copy the idea.
For the record I am still very much in favour of forest schools but I would want more structure and better senior leadership. We’re grateful for the three months we’ve had and are very sad to leave.
But from tomorrow we are joining the international schools’ system. We’ve opted for a kindergarten with a pretty large garden – the closest we thought we could get to a forest school!
You can read my previous posts about our forest school experience below: