“There are so many opportunities at Forest.”
Forest was very different from my small primary school. Walking around Forest, there would be people I didn’t know but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be because I said ‘hi’ to everyone and they said ‘hi’ back.
The way school is organised helps too, everyone being in both a form and a House. We see our form group every single day in registration and in class, whereas we have weekly House meetings with our Housemistress and the girls in other year groups but do lots of House activities together. The Diamond Structure has helped too. I like being taught in all girl groups, although knowing that you can make friends with boys outside class, like in Drama or Science Club, really helps.
“Forest encourages everyone to excel at what they're good at, and celebrates who they are.”
On arrival, I immediately fell in love with the school, the location and the buzz around the place. I I have always loved music and in my first year I played a trumpet concerto with an orchestra – how many people get that opportunity! The Music Department staff here are fantastic and there are concerts nearly every week. But it’s not just music; Forest encourages everyone to improve at what they're good at, to try new things, and celebrates pupils’ achievements whoever they are. In addition to music, I run the Amnesty International Group. Since Year 9, we have raised £3,000. As part of a recent campaign we wrote letters to MPs about the refugee crisis, campaigning for children to be allowed into our country.
"I feel that the co-curricular activities that I take part in are preparing me for life after Forest by giving me the confidence to take on new challenges.”
It was exciting meeting new people when I started at Forest and soon being in new teams, of course. Sport is a massive part of my life, particularly hockey. My team has managed to get to regional finals in the last two years. I play football and also cricket, so I am busy all year round. The School certainly promotes sport and loads of other activities although you don’t have to enjoy sport to enjoy Forest at all. Off the field, I’ve been involved in House Drama and House Music, where because I didn’t play an instrument I ended up as part of a group dancing in front of 600 people. A first for me!
“The Forest Learner has shown me that I can improve my independent work skills.”
I feel it is always good to challenge yourself and part of that is wanting to develop better learning characteristics such as time-management, which I feel I now do well. At Forest we all do research projects (HPQ & EPQ) which have allowed me to build independent work skills. You can choose any topic. My HPQ was on intelligent extra- terrestrial life, and whether it exists in our galaxy - I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t! I also started astronomy in Year 10 as an extra GCSE outside class time. Although there is a lot of academic focus in this school it does give you all sorts of amazing opportunities outside the classroom as well.
"I’m grateful to Forest for giving me the freedom to explore all my interests, no matter how eccentric."
I’m grateful to Forest for giving me the freedom to explore all my interests, no matter how eccentric. Last year, I organised a two-hour comedy night as part of my EPQ (an A-level project-based qualification on your own chosen interest). With access to the school’s resources and facilities, I booked a performance space, designed a set, recruited acts and a tech team and held a ticketed performance in aid of a charity.
Forest also allows me the flexibility to continue acting and voiceover work outside school. Every kind of person is catered for here at Forest, so we are all different and we embrace and respect those differences. Many of my friends didn’t discover their real passions until Forest enabled them to try new things.
“The best things about Forest are the co-curricular activities which are really outstanding. ”
Forest has a real sense of community. You feel accepted here and everyone around you is supportive. Personally, this helps me in my music and academic work and through the stressful parts of the school day because life at Forest is pretty hectic. Most days I spend the time before school, during lunch and after school playing music. I play four instruments: violin, piano, guitar, and I sing. I also play football, cricket and basketball. However, being busy has helped me discover the satisfactions of seeing that with anything it takes really hard work to get to the stage you want to be at, but when you do it is so rewarding.
“I am really interested in journalism. For Park News (a weekly newspaper for young people in the UK) I interviewed Tim Peake before he went to space.”
Forest certainly wasn’t as daunting as other schools as I felt there was a warm environment from the very start. Seeing everyone get on so well at Forest made me feel much more at ease.
I don’t know whether the photo shows them, but I have been awarded lots of school badges which reflects the ‘busyness’ of my life at Forest. They include my drama badge for the Lower School Play, as well as one for being a House Monitor. I also took part in House MasterChef making a dark chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for the dessert. That was really cool. Another badge is for public speaking, and best of all is my gold smiley badge which I was awarded for doing an assembly to the Prep School to inspire and encourage them to get out of their comfort zone. Yes, I’m very proud of my badges.
"At Forest, everyone has different interests, so I’m not defined by my music or anything else."
I really enjoy school – I’m told I always have a big smile on my face. Most of all, I’m loving the variety of music here at Forest. I’m in the Sixth Form jazz band and lots of other groups; consequently, most lunch times I can be found in the music block doing something. I’ve been rehearsing for House Music a lot lately which has been really good fun. I also had a role earlier this year in the English National Opera’s production of the Magic Flute which played at the London Coliseum. My costume was really cool and had very weird eyes. A review in ‘What’s On Stage’ said the three boys (I was Third Boy) were an “excellent trio of wizened little man-boys”, so that was exciting. But I’m not just into music, I like sports and art as well. Anything creative, really. At Forest, everyone has different interests, so I’m not defined by my music or anything else. In fact, I have just come back from the annual tour to Barcelona with the U.13 football team, training at the world famous club and playing some local youth teams. That was a very exciting week.
“I love the Sixth Form is separate to the rest of the School. We have our own space and are treated like adults by our teachers.”
The diamond structure has worked well for me. I feel it’s good to have boys and girls taught separately for the first five years because we do mature in different ways, and then we come together in the Sixth Form where we have our own space and are treated more like young adults.
I have also loved being part of my House from Day 1. It has shaped who I am. As Houses are single-sex, girls are not overshadowed by the boys, or vice versa. Everyone has more confidence to speak out about themselves. I am more outgoing now and have tried new things, such as doing an internship with the Police.
“As I plan to study medicine at university, I have arranged a trip to Africa during the summer holidays. I will be spending five days in a private surgery and five days in a public surgery.”
If you come to Forest, just make sure you take every opportunity to get involved in sport, music, drama, work or anything else. I have played saxophone in the Forest School Big Band since Year 8, been on the basketball team since Year 8, and played in a senior jazz ensemble since Year 9. I have also taken part in the Chemistry Olympiad. By taking part in all these things you learn a lot about yourself and other people, as well as having great fun. Forest provides all these opportunities to pursue ambitions and develop skills which will help you as much as academia. I am never bored at Forest – there’s always something going on. Enjoy the community here too. You’ll feel part of something special.
“My Housemistress sees me every day and supports me with little things like revision check lists and to-do-lists”
As a senior pupil, I now see that at Forest I have become much more independent and self-reliant. You have to organise your time more as you go up the School if you are heavily involved in activities as I still am, but being busy is good. Inside and outside of school I play a lot of hockey which I first started hockey in Year 5. I also play a lot of netball and athletics. Now I have got into JRPC (Junior Regional Performance Centre) working up to England Scheme. I also do speech and drama, and I sing as well - in fact, I have a singing exhibition. There are lots of competitions within the school in all these areas, including Young Musician of the Year. So, plenty to be energised by!
“At Forest we have really good coaches. Sport here gave me the pathway to play for the Leyton Orient academy.”
"As part of the Forest Diploma, we have weekly Mindfulness sessions. When you are stressed, frustrated, annoyed, or angry with exams or homework, practicing Mindfulness really helps.”
Forest is different because it’s really diverse and busy. I came because I knew I would be happier being in a place where I could just dive into anything. Now I’m in the Sixth Form I am thinking about life beyond Forest. I want to go to university and study medicine, and am finding that we are prepared thoroughly for the next step. Apart from advice about higher education, I have enjoyed doing community work, learning life skills such as finance management, basic cooking, and Mindfulness, which we all practice. Ready? Close your eyes, slow your thoughts down for one minute, let your emotions and thoughts pass by - but don’t dwell on them. Are you feeling calmer and less stressed now?.
“I play cricket and the bassoon, but not at the same time!”
Forest has always helped me to reflect on what I am good at and where I might need to improve. My favourite subject is Science, which might be because I particularly love learning about animals and plants in Biology. For all our subjects there are good guidelines on how to do homework and during the exam period teachers offer you revision sessions and materials. Outside lesson time, I play cricket and the bassoon, but not at the same time! Whatever you are good at, it is fair to say that Forest teachers praise you when you put the hard work in, and if you need to improve they will invariably support you and find time to chat.
“In Year 7, I broke the record for javelin - I think my attitude to sport transfers into academic study.”
I joined Forest in Year 7 and in my first year I broke the school javelin record. Although I enjoy sport a lot, I think my attitude to sport definitely transfers into my academic studies too. For instance, I really like Science; I find it exciting because it is challenging whereas if I find things too easy I quickly get bored! And that’s been the same with my learning outside the classroom where the challenge to be successful has pushed me on in hockey as I have progressed to be part of the England U.16 squad this year. However, when I’m older I still want to be a lawyer.
It is often said that Forest pupils are as busy outside of the classroom as they are within it.
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The Informed Parent (TIP) is dedicated to providing news, information, and reassurance to Forest parents as their children move up the School