Forest schools

Many schools now incorporate Forest School sessions into their weekly timetable.

A child building an outdoor shelterBeing a Forest School leader requires some training and accreditation but many local authorities are supporting teachers and schools in gaining the necessary qualification and in getting fully set up. 

And in case you're wondering, it's not just learning about trees: "Forest Schools are an inspirational process that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment." Forest School (England) Network

The thinking behind Forest Schools originates from Scandinavia, where outdoor living and learning is part of everyday life and there is a strong belief that nature and movement is essential to a child's overall development and wellbeing.

"I've done a level 1 and an outdoor learning course and, despite not really liking being outside (for various complex reasons), I totally loved it. The whole ethos/idea is so good for children and I am trying to introduce it in small ways in my setting." Katymac

"We ran Forest School for the whole year last year (our first year). Looking back, we all preferred the frosty, cold winter days, when the temperature was hovering around zero and there was a furry layer of frost on the branches, giving them a magical quality. Fab." Bustergut

The Forest School philosophy is based upon the desire to provide young children with an education which encourages appreciation for the wider natural world and which encourages responsibility for nature conservation in later life.

Forest School sessions take place in woodland and should be held regularly. They are an opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and, most important, they encourage children to use their own initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others.

Forest School sessions operate throughout the year and in allweathers. The participating children must be correctly dressed for the conditions and given appropriate drinks and snacks during the session. 

Forest School sites vary depending on location from the simple to the very complex. All sites undergo a full health and safety assessment. 

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Last updated: about 3 years ago