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On Friday 12 September, local MP Jake Berry and the Mayor of Rossendale Councillor Thomas Aldred along with members of the local community joined with staff, students, governors and trustees to celebrate the long-awaited opening of Larkhill Rise Forest School.

The forest school is a unique educational experience that offers children the opportunity to succeed and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning in a woodland environment. Topics are cross-curricular and also cover more abstract concepts such as mathematics and communications. The development of personal skills such as teamwork and problem solving are also highly valued outcomes.

Some paths and benches still exist from the original 2005 project , but new features include an outdoor classroom, mud slide, mud pit, fire pit, mud kitchen, bog garden, vegetable garden and poly tunnel and willow tunnel. Funding is still being sought for an outdoor classroom, and other resources for the project.

The new facility was developed and will be used primarily by St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Bright Futures Nursery School and Alder Grange Community & Technology School but it will also be available for use by local charities such as Home-Start Rossendale and other organisations. There are plans afoot for a willow weaving course open to the public in February 2015, and a series of inter-active community lectures are planned for next year.

The project got off to a good start with two Big Digs, where over 100 people from schools and the community gave up three hours of their time at each event to help clear the site. Radio Lancashire broadcast live from the second event and MP Jake Berry was also in attendance.

Parent Nusrat Karim commented, “Larkhill Rise Forest School will be a wonderful resource for my children. I am delighted that the schools and nursery are proactively providing different learning activities to engage them and boost their confidence.”

Mayor of Rossendale Councillor Thomas Aldred stated, “I am very impressed by what I have seen this afternoon and together everyone has played a part in creating a wonderful facility for nursery, primary, and secondary schools. It is also going to benefit charity and community organisations. It will be an additional facility for the whole area.”

Jake Berry reflected, “St. Paul’s School is a real example of how to make your school family an integral part of the wider Rossendale community. This outstanding project has drawn in local parents, pupils, teachers along with other local people who are working together to improve the learning environment for young people in the Valley.”

Acting Headteacher Samaira Nasim said, “I would like to thank our partners and everyone who have contributed to make this dream a reality. I would also like to pass on the thanks of the Larkhill Rise Forest School team to everyone who turned up with their families for the Big Dig 2 and has supported the project. Although it was hard work, it was really rewarding to see how much we all achieved and great community spirit in action!”

If anyone would like more information on the use of the forest school, or if you would like to make a contribution to Larkhill Rise Forest School please contact St. Paul’s Church of England Primary School on 01706 215893 or email