What is Forest School?

Forest school is a child-centred educational approach that sees natural settings as rich opportunities for learning.

Forest Schools were developed in Scandinavia in the 1950’s and focused on teaching young children about and in the natural world.

The development of Forest Schools began in Britain in the mid 1990’s after a visit to Denmark by students from Bridgewater College Somerset began to apply what they had seen. Since then nationally recognised qualifications have been introduced and Forest School has spread to many areas as educationalists have witnessed the impact that it can have on children.

Below are the principles which, when combined together, make Forest School different to any other form of outdoor activity.

  • Forest School is for all children and young people - The Early Years is where Forest School originated but its benefits are seen across a wide age range as progression in tasks and activities are easily built into all activities.
  • Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves.
  • Forest School is organised and run by qualified Forest School leaders.
  • Forest School maximises the learning potential of local woodland through frequent and regular experiences throughout the year, not a one off visit.
  • Forest School helps children to understand appreciate and care for the natural environment.
  • Forest School supports the development of the understanding of the whole child’s learning for all participants; leaders, parents, volunteers and teachers alike.

Of particular importance is the clear relevance of Forest School to the Every Child Matters agenda as well as other national agendas.

Forest School offers unique ways to develop the essential core skills of communication and physical development in a highly creative way building on the social and emotional developments of all.

Through planned sessions, over a period of time, qualified staff deliver a holistic way of working that develops the whole child in a supportive and challenging environment.

Photo for Tinderwood Trust by Sarah Mason Photographers
'Forest School is 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'

- National Definition: Forest School (England) Network.

Photo for Tinderwood Trust by Sarah Mason Photographers
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