We’re so pleased that you are going to be joining us on the beach. Here’s a bit of information, so you know what to expect when you arrive:
What is Beach School?
Our Beach School practice is inspired by the Forest School philosophy – we just take it out of the woods and on to the beach. The ideas behind Forest School come from Scandinavia, where spending time in nature has been an integral part of education since the 1950’s. It is based on a desire to provide children with an appreciation of the environment around them, to encourage responsibility for nature conservation in later life and to provide child-led learning that encourages, amongst others, independence, confidence and self-esteem. So at Little Gulls, we’re here to help you explore our amazing coasts, provide some ideas of how you can be creative with natural materials and, most importantly just play and have lots of fun!
We believe our Beach School meets the principles outlined by the UK’s Forest School Association, which advocates long term programmes. We have loads of ideas and things for you to do, but none of them are compulsory. The best way to learn in this environment is through lots of free play – which will all be set up for when you arrive. So just start playing! And about half way through the session we’ll have some drinks and snacks to keep everyone full of energy to play some more.
We just have a few simple rules to keep everyone safe and happy…
We ask everyone participating or visiting to:
Treat everyone equally: We treat each everyone equally and fairly, with respect and understanding, regardless of age, individual personalities, culture, interests, needs and abilities.
Follow children’s lead: Everyone at Little Gulls is allowed to decide what and when they would like explore. We may lead some activities for the children (and grown ups!) to join in if they wish. However, these are entirely optional.
Provide presence: As long as your children can see you, and as long as they know they can reconnect with you when they want to, they will feel safe enough to play and learn.
These are our Shared Understandings that we will ask you to agree to at the time of booking:
- A group leader will have training in paediatric first aid, food hygiene and safeguarding, however, the welfare, safety, care and conduct of the child remains the sole responsibility of parents and/or carers at all times and therefore no child should be left unattended at any time.
- Please make the first aider aware if your child suffers from any conditions that may affect emergency treatment (asthma, allergies, fits etc.).
- Please ensure that you have read the rules for Beach School before the first session and ask the group leader if you are unsure of the meaning of any of these.
- Please contact your doctor if you or your child become ill and be respectful to other families by not attending the group if they are. In accordance with health guidelines, your child must have been clear of all systems of sickness and diarrhoea for 48 hours before attending a session.
- It is advisable to dress your child appropriately; we would suggest having legs and arms covered, waterproof clothing as required, suitable sturdy footwear for uneven terrain and several warm layers for winter sessions.
- Please be friendly and courteous to all adults and children in the group to ensure the environment remains nurturing.
- During our group there is an expectation that mobile phones will only be used in emergencies.
- If you take photos of your child, please ensure that you do not share the image online if other children appear in the photo.
And please follow our simple beach safety rules:
- Look for the rainbow flags – we will have checked the area inside the rainbow flags for litter etc. before you arrive. If you’d like to explore beyond them, you are welcome to but we won’t have checked it is safe.
- The beach is an natural environment and often has uneven and slippery surfaces – wear sturdy shoes (and check out our suggested kit list) and walk, rather than run if it feels wobbly underfoot.
- We only paddle as a group – please don’t go paddling on your own. We ask that you stay about 2 metres from the water’s edge, unless we are paddling. When we do go paddling, please only go in up to your knees
- Don’t climb the sea walls and structures – because of uneven surface, sea worn walls and unexpected drops, we ask you not to climb on the sea walls, groynes and other coastal defence structures. Please use the steps and ramps to get to and from the beach.
- No playing in the car park – the beach at St Margarets Bay is close to the public car park, please take care in the car park and play on the beach or at the Endeavour Centre – not in the car park itself.
Our Beach & Forest School Handbook, which contains emergency information, procedures and risk benefit assessments is also available for everyone to view. Please just ask us if you’d like to have a look.