Forest Schools

What we do with schools

The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through an innovative, long term, educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.

Forest School has a child-centered approach; the activities offered reflect the needs and development of the particular children we are working with. The activities are only a starting point and children may choose to take activities in a different direction from the one intended. It is the Forest School Practitioner’s role to be prepared for this and to be adaptable enough to develop children’s learning in the most appropriate way. Effective observation and evaluation, therefore, are vital to plan for future sessions and to inform which activities are offered.

Sessions will involve children participating in activities that are designed around the needs of the group, ensuring that they are learner-led. Sessions are designed around a theme.  The themes are sometimes subtle such as evolving or exploring the site or more obvious such as Romans, butterflies, spies, fairies or nature investigators, for example.

The sessions are planned within the capabilities of every person within the group (small achievable tasks). Teamwork skills are developed through games and activities. Individual skills and self-esteem are heightened throughout activities such as hide and seek, shelter building, tool skills, lighting fires or environmental art; the list is endless. Each activity develops intra and inter-personal skills as well as practical and intellectual skills.

Tools are used in a traditional woodland manner and are introduced gradually with a structured safety base that the children become familiar with. The use of tools in the wood promotes trust and self-confidence within those taking part; their use will also develop both gross and fine motor skills.

Throughout the session the Practitioner will assess the individuals’ progressions and re-adjust the activities to meet each child’s requirements, at the end they will carry out a final review. This is a very important part of the session. The young people could be asked to shout out, draw, act or play a game to review the day they have just experience, reflecting about what they have done during the forest school session. This feedback will be used to inform the activities that are undertaken in the next activity.

Forest School has the most impact when undertaken as a long term programme (usually 6 sessions) over an academic year. Due to the child centered nature of forest school, we may not be able to plan the detailed activities in the long term; however, we should still be able to plan the wider themes and objectives.

We also offer single Forest School sessions on a particular theme.