One of the reasons children learn so well here at Woodcroft is because of our beautiful surroundings. We are located at the edge of Epping Forest, which is an ancient woodland that still belongs to the people of London.
Epping Forest was a royal hunting forest, but in the nineteenth century was earmarked for development. A local hero called Thomas Willingale campaigned for the preservation of Epping Forest and for its continued use as a beautiful public amenity and source of fuel for the local commoners. He even went to prison for it. It is thought that Thomas lived at Woodcroft in the house which is now the main school building. Today, the forest is still protected from development and stretches from the heart of East London into the Essex countryside.
Being so close to the forest means that we can use it as an amazing extension to our school grounds.
So many activities
The forest is frequently used in our teaching and leisure activities. We use it for group outings, walking trips, therapies, wildlife observation, the teaching of camping and building skills, and when it snows, there is a perfect hill for tobogganing. The accessible forest walk at High Beech is great for pupils who are not too stable on their feet.
We have access to a nearby outdoor pursuits centre as well, which includes indoor and outdoor wall climbing, zorbing, go-carting, archery, a zip wire, crate stacking and bonfires.
Feeling the countryside
As you approach Woodcroft you see the forest and smell the freshness of the air. If you are lucky you may hear a woodpecker or see some deer, or more likely squirrels running up and down the tree trunks. Particularly if you are coming from central London, entering this more countrified setting is a peaceful way to start the day.
Woodcroft’s autumnal food
We are next to a large allotment and are beginning to use produce that has been grown by our pupils. During harvest time our school cook, Sue, used our own tomatoes, squash and other produce in our school lunches.
The view from the upper classrooms is fantastic. Beyond fields and countryside you can see the Dartford Bridge, the O2 Arena and even the Kent hills on the other side of the Thames.
Every day we feel so fortunate that we are able to work and teach our pupils in such wonderful, peaceful, countrified surroundings.