Forest School

“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a wooded, natural environment.”

Mr Stanton, Forest School Lead



Forest School’s roots are found in Scandinavia, where Forest Schools began. It arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then.

Forest School enables us to instill an appreciation of the natural world in children from an early age, and embeds the importance of looking after nature and a sense of responsibility to do so. Sessions are intended to give children time to be outdoors and the freedom to be themselves.

The benefits of forest school are far-reaching, encouraging children to explore and experience the natural world in practical, hands on ways, fostering a love of nature. Differing to a well delivered ‘outdoor learning’ session, at Forest School, everyone experiences success and sessions are full of opportunities to boost self confidence and self-esteem. It helps develop social and communication skills as children work cooperatively alongside each other. As well as the physical and health benefits that come from being engaged in physical activities in the fresh air, both fine and gross motor skills are also developed, which proves hugely beneficial when back inside the classroom. Moreover, there are huge mental and emotional benefits of being in the great outdoors, working solo or in groups of friends and, most importantly, having fun.

The Big Ideas

Within the Forest School curriculum, we focus on big ideas:

Humankind: Forest School encourages children to experience cause and effect and become skilled risk takers. It celebrates and promotes being human through exploration, play and curiosity.

Processes: Pupils make connections between physical processes and the natural environment in which they occur, experiencing scientific processes which occur in nature such as erosion and weather changes.

Creativity: Through discovery, pupils explore creativity in the natural setting, developing qualities of resilience, persistence and determination. They ask questions to find connections and confidently engage in trial and error to think and behave creatively outdoors.

Investigation: Forest School sessions create a safe, non-judgemental, nurturing environment for learners to be curious and take risks – risk is more than just potential for physical harm, there are risks in everything we do, and we grow by experiencing them and being better informed.

Materials: Children have access to many natural resources for inspiration, to enable development of ideas and to encourage intrinsic motivation. They will explore living and non-living material properties , observe how they change and learn how to choose those that are fit for purpose, such as identifying suitable types of wood for craft or fire.

Nature: Through a growing understanding of ecosystems in the woodland environment, pupils investigate habitats, features and characteristics and the impact of human actions.

Place: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. The woodland gives learners the space and environment in which to explore and discover, providing a stimulus for all learning preferences and dispositions and aiming to foster a relationship with nature, in order to develop long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices for life.

Change: Learners have access to the Forest School process through the changing seasons, making comparisons and undertaking activities which will introduce or build on new skills and experiences.

The Forest School process inspires pupils to form a deep and meaningful connection and relationship with the world and an understanding of how they fit within it.

National Curriculum Coverage

The first sessions will focus on core skills and safety. Activities will increase week on week and may include: games; storytelling; natural art activities; use of tools (if skills and behaviour indicators secure); exploring, nature watching and bug hunting; climbing, rolling; practical woodland skills (e.g. willow weaving); building dens, sculptures; time to be quiet, reflect or talk; develop the ability to observe silently – to look and hear what’s happening around them.

Forest School is more about the process than the activities set. Whilst there will be structure, classes will also steer their own learning journeys and have the freedom to explore, make their own choices and apply their knowledge and skills. Download our ‘Curriculum coverage’ document to see how the activities in Forest School link to the topics that the children are learning in the classroom.


Skills and knowledge within the curriculum are separated into ‘milestones’. Each Milestone contains a range of descriptors that support the children’s progression within the subject. Download our ‘Milestones’ document to see the skills expected within each milestone.