Forest School

Intent, Implementation, Impact

Forest School sessions aim to enhance a child’s mental and physical wellbeing. Throughout the school year every child will take their learning outside into our woodland area, building on skills learned in the classroom and being introduced to new ones designed to encourage independent thinking and build confidence in their own abilities.

Principles of Forest School – taken from

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.

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.

Forest School as a concept originated in Scandinavia. It was observed that children taking part in regular outdoor learning where they were able to learn about and manage risk, showed increased self-esteem and confidence in other areas in their lives.

During our Forest School sessions pupils are encouraged to explore the environment around them, building an understanding of their place within the ecosystem, observe the changing seasons, flora and fauna and their own impact on the area.

Children are at the centre of planning at Forest School, adopting a whole-child ethos, rather than solely academic. Every child is an individual and will learn in different ways, varied tasks with opportunities for play, discovery and success aim to boost resilience and confidence. Regular observations take place to ensure task levels are appropriate and benefit those involved.

Children are given the space and freedom to explore and, with appropriate scaffolding from teachers, learn how to manage risk at their own pace.

A combination of games and tasks to encourage both movement and reflection aim to have a positive effect on the participants mental and physical wellbeing.

We use ropes, tarpaulins and natural materials in our activities and once confident in their surroundings pupils will also take part in tasks promoting the safe use of tools and fire.

The impact of Forest Schools is reflected in having well rounded, happy and confident children who seek adventure and have confidence to take risks. Having more awareness of the world around them and the influence we as humans can have on the environment.

The success of forest school allows the children to grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate. Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social skills. The sensory experiences provided by Forest School helps prompt language development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development.

High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention. Spending time in the woodland is exciting for a child. It tends to fascinate them which develops a strong will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time. The increase in outdoor activity has a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills. Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for generations to come.

When children really engage with Forest Schools they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently.

We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:

  • Images and videos of the children’s practical learning.
  • Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice)

What do our pupils think?

To me, what makes Andrews’ is Forest School because it is great to be learning outside. During these sessions, we find and use nature, build dens in our secret garden (wooded area) and use fire for a number of applications. It’s great to learn with others in the class that we would not normally decide to learn with. It is also great for us to take learning into our own hands a little more. 

Andrews’ Pupil