The aims and ethos of Forest School.

The Forest School approach to learning is based on six principles which were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011.

  • Principle 1: Forest School is a long term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one off visit. Planning, adaptation, observation and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
  • Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
  • Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
  • Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
  • Principle 5: Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
  • Principle 6: Forest School uses a range of learner centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

The Forest School concept originated in Denmark where it was aimed at preschool children.  It was found that children who had attended forest school had strong social and communication skills, the ability to work in groups effectively and generally had high self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities when they started school.

Forest School aims to give children the freedom and inspiration to develop resilience, self esteem, confidence and build relationship through an exploration of their own interests in an outside setting.  Although specific learning opportunities are offered at each session, the children have the freedom to choose to complete these or to follow their own lines of enquiry.  They have the opportunity to return to an activity that they have enjoyed and/or found difficult and have another go which helps to build resilience.  It links very clearly to the Building Learning Power and Secrets of Success principles and to the key principles of play.  Forest School takes place all year round in all weathers except for high winds.  Children work with tools, learn boundaries of behavior and develop an understanding of the natural world through play and exploration.

Forest School encourages children to:

  • develop personal and social skills including language and communication skills;
  • work through practical problems and challenges;
  • use tools to create, build or manage;
  • discover how they learn best;
  • follow lines of enquiry that interest them;
  • learn how to manage failure;
  • regularly experience achievement and success;
  • build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk;
  • develop practical skills;
  • explore their relationship with nature;
  • reflect on learning and experiences;
  • improve physical fine and gross motor skills;
  • become more motivated;
  • improve their concentration skills.

Activities may include:

  • shelter building;
  • tool use;
  • studying wildlife;
  • playing team and group games;
  • sensory activities;
  • tracking games;
  • cooking on an open fire;
  • rope and string work;
  • art and sculpture work;
  • woodland and traditional craft.

Further information about Forest School nationally can be found here.

Forest School