Forest School and Outdoor Learning

Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor education.

Forest Schools in the UK have been adapted from a Scandinavian approach to learning. The original source of the concept was from Sweden and has spread to other Scandinavian and European countries. It is growing rapidly as a direct response to the realisation that in the digital age our children are spending less time outside, taking fewer risks (and therefore not recognising and managing risk effectively) and suffering from what has been described as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’.

Risky Play and why children need and love it

Our nursery is co-owned by Ed, a Forest School Leader, Bushcraft leader and member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning. It is surrounded by beautiful woodland to which we have free access at all times. All of our children spend time in the woods and in the wider estate on a daily basis. The younger ones may go on a woodland walk, foraging for blackberries or collecting kindling for our wood-burners, so they can experience the open-ended canvas which is the natural world and benefit from the physical challenges of uneven ground etc.

Soon after children turn three, then we look to place them in one of our Forest School Experiences groups. This is an in-depth, regular programme where the same group of children will head out into the woods on a set day each week, throughout the year. This is what Forest School is all about: giving children regular and extended exposure to the wonders of nature, through the seasons, so they can discover it through their own eyes - rather than just being 'led' and 'told' by an adult. Our groups are kept small with no more than 12 children in each group. By keeping the groups the same, the children develop valuable group and people skills as well as personal confidence. Much of the children's day will be spent exploring, testing themselves, and coming up with fantastic, imaginative ideas inspired by the woods. We aim for them to become healthy and active individuals, with a love for the outdoors and our world.

The children learn about our natural surroundings, try new skills (like sawing wood), have a fire and explore, climb and create stories which come back with us to the nursery and sometimes become exciting projects to take further.

The holistic skills, understanding and experiences developed through a Forest School experience are transferable to the rest of a learner’s life. Improved confidence, self esteem, problem solving, social, emotional skills and independence are particularly relevant lifelong skills. Forest School also transfers to the wider community. Once children enjoy playing in natural places this enthusiasm spreads to their family increasing visits to wild places and encouraging them to use gardens more frequently and widely.

We visit the woods regularly, but we also have outdoor learning based at the nursery every day in our large garden. All of our outdoor learning is overseen by our lead Forest School practitioner. Have a look at our In the Garden page for more information. Please note that, due to tightened staff:child ratios, there is an additional charge for our full Forest School Experience and all of our older children are expected to participate. It is a fundamental part of our setting and ethos.