We believe everyone should have regular, long term access to natural woodland environments that provides them with enriching and empowering outdoor experiences where learning can take place.

Forest School encourages a child led approach, where students learn through self-directed play and exploration.

This play and exploration encourages their curiosity & empathy, helps to develop their creativity, and increases their self-esteem, confidence, communication skills and knowledge of the natural environment, including the important ability to assess risk.

Forest School Principles

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, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

  • Forest School takes place regularly, ideally at least every other week, with the same group of learners, over an extended period of time, if practicable encompassing the seasons.
  • A Forest School programme has a structure which is based on the observations and collaborative work between learners and practitioners. This structure should clearly demonstrate progression of learning.
  • The initial sessions of any programme establish physical and behavioural boundaries as well as making initial observations on which to base future programme development.

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.

  • Whilst woodland is the ideal environment for Forest School, many other sites, some with only a few trees, are able to support good Forest School practice.
  • The woodland is ideally suited to match the needs of the programme and the learners, providing them with the space and environment in which to explore and discover.
  • A Forest School programme constantly monitors its ecological impact and works within a sustainable site management plan agreed between the landowner/ manager, the forest school practitioner and the learners.
  • Forest School aims to foster a relationship with nature through regular personal experiences in order to develop long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices in staff, learners and the wider community.
  • Forest School uses natural resources for inspiration, to enable ideas and to encourage intrinsic motivation.

Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners

  • Where appropriate, the Forest School leader will aim to link experiences at Forest School to home, work and /or school education
  • Forest School programmes aim to develop, where appropriate, the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner.

Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

  • Forest School opportunities are designed to build on an individual’s innate motivation, positive attitudes and/or interests.
  • Forest School uses tools and fires only where deemed appropriate to the learners, and dependent on completion of a baseline risk assessment.
  • Any Forest School experience follows a Risk–Benefit process managed jointly by the practitioner and learner that is tailored to the developmental stage of the learner.

5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

  • Forest School is led by qualified Forest School practitioners, who are required to hold a minimum of an accredited Level 3 Forest School qualification. Find more information on Forest School qualifications here.
  • There is a high ratio of practitioner/adults to learners.
  • Practitioners and adults regularly helping at Forest School are subject to relevant checks into their suitability to have prolonged contact with children, young people and vulnerable people.
  • Practitioners need to hold an up-to-date first aid qualification, which includes paediatric (if appropriate) and outdoor elements.
  • Forest School is backed by relevant working documents, which contain all the policies and procedures required for running Forest School and which establish the roles and responsibilities of staff and volunteers.
  • The Forest School leader is a reflective practitioner and sees themselves, therefore, as a learner too.

6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning

  • A learner-centred pedagogical approach is employed by Forest School that is responsive to the needs and interests of learners.
  • The Practitioner models the pedagogy, which they promote during their programmes through careful planning, appropriate dialogue and relationship building.
  • Play and choice are an integral part of the Forest School learning process, and play is recognised as vital to learning and development at Forest School.
  • Forest School provides a stimulus for all learning preferences and dispositions.
  • Reflective practice is a feature of each session to ensure learners and practitioners can understand their achievements, develop emotional intelligence and plan for the future.
  • Practitioner observation is an important element of Forest School pedagogy. Observations feed into ‘scaffolding’ and tailoring experiences to learning and development at Forest School.

Forest School History

Forest School in the UK may seem a fairly new movement. In reality it is based on a rich heritage of outdoor learning going back at least to the 19th century. Philosophers, naturalists and educators in Europe and the UK such as Wordsworth, Ruskin, Baden Powell, Leslie Paul (who founded the Woodcraft Folk in 1925), Kurt Hahn (who founded Gordonstone and was the inspiration for our first outdoor education centres), Susan Isaacs and the Macmillan sisters all laid the foundations for what is known as Forest School today. During the 1970s and 80s our education system moved toward a more teacher/outcome-centred approach in an attempt to improve numeracy and literacy, in particular, and we had the introduction of the national curriculum. Somewhat in response to this, there was a growth of ‘alternative’ educational models in the 1990s and it is in this context that Forest School emerged.

Early Antecedents to Forest School in the UK (Mel McCree 2012)

Forest School Impact

Forest School has an impact on the whole child’s health, education and well-being.

Personal, social, emotional. Health, DevelopmentMathematicsArt and Design
Resilience
Risk taking
Cooperation
Cooperation

Team work
Independence
Self esteem
confidence
Measurements
Estimation
Comparison
Problem solving
Sorting
ordering
Creativity
Imagination
Joining materials
Physical EducationScienceLiteracy
Balance
Fine motor skills – tying knots etc
Gross motor skills – lifting, climbing
Stamina and strength
Co ordination
Using tools safely
Weather and seasons
Plants
Animals and habitats
Growth and decay
Senses
materials
New vocabulary

Speaking and listening
Stories
Role-play

Marriott Primary Progression of Skills

marriott-primary-progression-of-skills (1)

The pond

Spring Term – Year 5

Week 6

We have become huge whittling fans. It is amazing what you can do with a potato peeler. We had a look in the pond and we were really disappointed to not find any tadpoles 🙁

Alham was brave this week and climbed the tree she had been wanting to climb since week 1.

Week 5

This week was all about the Limbo! We also made mini worlds, built shelters and more whittling.

Week 4

This week we made some shelters and learnt how to whittle. As a reward for our whittling we had toasted marshmallows and starbursts.

Week 3

Most of the group were out on a sporting trip this week so we enjoyed the snow :). we also made bird feeders.We also broke up the ice a bit so there was water to drink for the wildlife.

Week 2

We had a great time “chitting” the potatoes. In 2 weeks time they should be ready for planting.

After a bit of gardening and building shelters we sat down and had a lovely cup of hot chocolate.

Week 1

This is our first session so we did some team building. The challenge was to make the tallest free standing structure.

We did a little bit of ground maintenance and then the fun began.

Autumn Term

Year 4 had a few sessions up in the new Forest School area. The area is not fully functioning yet but that didn’t stop everyone from having a bit of fun.