AFTER a year of tracking wildlife, caring for trees and getting their hands dirty, youngsters in Rose Hill celebrated the first anniversary of their forest school area.

The special area opened at Rose Hill Primary School last January and has proved to be a big success, with 12 months of hard work culminating in a celebration day last Friday.

The area was made possible by a £12,000 grant from Nicholson's Nurseries and The Berkeley Reafforestation Trust and every week five classes from the school make use of it.

Outdoor learning coordinator Emma Hood said she was delighted with how successful it has been so far.

She said: "What is special about the project is that usually what happens if there is forest school provision is that the headteacher will allow a forest school teacher or trained assistant to go out.

"But here Sue Vermes allows class teachers themselves to go out, so the learning that goes on outdoors can be reinforced in the classroom.

"The children have loved it. The problem from their point of view is they do not get out there enough."

Forest schools and the type of area at Rose Hill Primary School are designed to allow children to take part in a range of outdoor activities and broaden their learning experiences.

Pupils have been able to take part in activities such as tracking bees and hedgehogs and creating environments for them to live in.

One group of youngsters has been responsible for the maintenance of the site.

Ms Hood said: "One teacher commented to me that she had seen a change in her pupils' resilience.

"Some of the children might have been upset about falling over or getting dirty but now they just get up and get on with it.

"Children are being more independent about how to assess and manage risk and danger, which is something they do not get to do in the classroom."

To mark the anniversary on Friday the school hosted a day of celebrations with visitors including Eleanor Watts and Paul Skinner from Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon along with Oxfordshire Forest School trainer Sarah Lawfull.

Children gave presentations in a special assembly about the school and were then given to chance to do what they enjoy most – playing in the forest school area.

Ms Hood said: "They explained what they had got out of out door learning, that was really wonderful.

"It was great to see how much they appreciated everything out there.

"Each class then came outside for half an hour and they spent time by the fire and had a hot chocolate and a bit of a play."