There is magic in outdoor learning

St. James's Place Wealth Management | Rainow Primary School

“When a child who struggles with classroom learning, comes down to forest school, they realise that they are amazing at something and can achieve. You see their shoulders go up as they become more self-confident. If they can transfer this confidence back to class, then that’s amazing.”

Claire de Ruiter, Forest School Leader, Rainow Primary School

In September we facilitated a Splash Project at Rainow Primary School’s Forest School in Macclesfield.

The school community count themself extremely fortunate for having their own woodland for forest school activities which support children who struggle in a classroom environment. But in the absence of any funding, the school was not able to make improvements to the homemade structures. 

Cue a Splash Project with 20 members of St. James’s Place senior team, who, as part of the firm’s commitment to CSR, over two days, transformed the space making it into a beautiful and inspiring outdoor learning zone. 

“All the children have been pivotal in the design of it, they’ve all had their voice,” explained Claire. “I scribbled all the notes down from the children and then told Dan and Colin over Zoon. One of them said, ‘I want it to be wibbly-wobbly because we’re all wibbly-wobbly in the woods, we all have our own personalities and characters’.”

A week after the project Claire kindly emailed us and described the impact the new facilities were having on the children…It’s heart-warming, we hope you have time to read what she has to say…


“I just wanted to let you know what a brilliant week we have had in the woods with our wonderful new shelter.

“Monday brought rain and to be able to sit under the roof and listen to the rain hammering down was an utter treat.

“Two of the children spent the afternoon sat on the new steps leading to the river collecting stones and grading them in size on the steps. Both very soggy but both very engrossed and engaged.  

“Three children discovered the joy of the mud heap next to the shelter and proceeded to be double their body weight with the amount of mud they managed to cover themselves in! 

“The rest of us stayed dry and warm in the shelter and whittled wood. It was so lovely to be able to set the tools out and not worry about them getting wet. Being able to sit and whittle while have a great vantage point of the children who were outside was perfect. 

“Wednesday brought more rain and a new group to the woods. They worked incredibly hard in bringing extra woodchips down from the playground to lay around the shelter perimeter. They worked out a system between themselves of bringing the wheelbarrow down while others filled buckets as they relayed between the two areas.

“All soggy, we spent the rest of the afternoon drying out under the shelter whittling and having inspiring conversations about teamwork and what a huge sense of achievement they all felt in their contribution to the space.

“Today the sun shone. The sparrowhawk had been hunting and left us the remains of a pigeon by the firepit so after inspecting the torn-out entrails and mass of feathers a unanimous decision was made to decamp to the shelter. 

“They thoroughly enjoyed the ‘shop’ collecting broken pottery from the river. Using leaves as tender they could have given any market trader a run for their money!

“The box under the table in the shelter was filled with all manner of useful things on Monday which meant they could be left there and not have to carry them back and forth. The angled storage in the corners have also been filled with a multitude of conkers and wood. All squirreled away to be rediscovered next week.

“Dan, thank you so much for listening to the children’s ideas and adapting the design. Jim and Liam, you worked your socks off with the SJP volunteers to get everything done in the timescale. 

“What hit home most during this process has been how similar the Splash team and our forest school’s ethos is. It was a delight eavesdropping as Jim discussed with various volunteers how they were going to make things. He listened, asked open-ended questions and supported while they found their own answers and solutions. 

“The confidence that the SJP volunteers achieved over the build was palpable. Through stewardship and delegation the shelter was built. This is what Forest School at Rainow is all about; to nurture and support the children in self-discovering tools to empower and instil self-belief is a humbling privilege and the new woodland shelter will enable this to continue in new and varied ways.”