Year 6 Hedge Laying

Year 6’s went to All Saints Churchyard as part of their Forest School session last week to learn about hedge laying. Michael White, from Wealden Hedge Laying, is laying the hedge alongside the footpath through the churchyard which is on the route of our Welly Walk.

He explained that the style used here is the South of England style where the hedge is cut and laid over to create a double brush on both sides. This produces a good barrier to enclose livestock and creates habitats for wildlife. A single line of Hazel stakes are then driven into the centre of the hedge and long thin Hazel branches are woven between these to give strength to the hedge while it is re-growing. These are called binders and, along with the stakes, come from the hedge itself.

Michael then showed us the tools he uses to lay the hedge, many of which were very old, and we passed them around carefully as they were very sharp.

The tools included an axe to put points on the stakes, a froe to split the wood and different types of bill hooks.

Everyone tried their hand at trimming the binders using a bill hook and there was also an opportunity to weave some of the binders into the hedge.

Because our small school woodland is limited in its supply of sticks we then coppiced a Hazel tree using loppers and these branches, along with sticks surplus to Michael’s requirements, were then taken back to school.

The rest of the Forest School session was spent making mallets, bows and arrows and, of course, dens and also whittling projects using the fresh green Hazel wood.

We are very grateful to Michael and also thank you to All Saints Church for allowing us this fantastic opportunity and we hope to use the churchyard more often for other learning opportunities.

Lucy Farley Level 3 Forest School Leader & Practitioner

I am passionate about reconnecting children with the great outdoors and nature.

After having two boys of my own and revelling in exploration of our local area with them and seeing the benefits from this, I felt I wanted to expand on this further within my career paths.

The opportunity arose in 2013 when I was able to embark on forest school leadership training with my previous place of work at a local pre school.

I qualified in 2014 and ever since then I have been very lucky to be able to incorporate my love of the outside with my work and share with others these fantastic experiences.

Forest school to me embodies everything I feel children have lost due to so called Nature deficit disorder, referring to the negative consequences of a childhood without sufficient time spent connecting with the natural world.

It enables children the freedom to roam, to learn in a fun safe way about the natural world and promotes health and happiness. Forest school can also help children gain confidence, the ability to learn new skills, become independent, sense of achievement and the ability to gain resilience.

My favourite thing about forest school is seeing the overwhelming sense of pride a child feels when they finally light their first piece of cotton wool with a fire steel, or climb a tree unaided and safely or build a den out of natural materials and sit and have their lunch in it.

I have so many memorable experiences I could go on forever, but I will leave with this thought.

‘No one will protect what they do not care about; and no one will care about what they’ve never experienced ‘

Sir David Attenborough

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