Forest School Awards
The outreach programme for Learning Without Walls

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Why Become A Forest School

What is A Forest School?

"Forest School" is based on a Scandinavian idea that considers children's contact with nature to be extremely important from an early age. A study trip from Somerset to Denmark in 1995 decided that the approach was appropriate for use in Britain. Since then Forest School has spread to many areas as educationalists have witnessed the impact that it can have on children.

Characteristics

Safety

  • The setting is rigorously checked before every session.
  • Clear boundaries are established for the children to stay within.

Learning can be linked to the National Curriculum

  • By incorporating innovative approaches to learning (such as undertaking small and easily achievable tasks) children are encouraged to develop their curiosity and motivation to learn. This is particularly important for those who find it difficult to assimilate knowledge in a strictly classroom situation.

Multisensory

  • The freedom to explore using multiple senses is fundamental for encouraging creative, diverse and imaginative play.
  • The focus is on the "whole child" (not just their academic ability).

Regular contact

  • Regular contact for the children over a period of time (e.g. all year round, in all weathers).

Adult supervision

  • A high adult to pupil ratio that allows for children to undertake tasks and play activities that challenge them but do not put them at undue risk of harm.
  • It also allows practitioners quickly to get to know the individual learning styles, abilities and characteristics of the children in their charge.

Training

  • Forest School sessions are led by qualified Forest School Leaders with a recognised Level 3 Forest School Award.

Risk Taking

  • Children are encouraged to undertake an element of risk.

Benefits of Forest School

The benefits of Forest Schools for children and society are well documented.

  1. Increased confidence and independence of the child.
  2. Development of their language skills by providing a real context for language.
  3. Ability to take risks and to become more open to new experiences.
  4. The forest school program evolves from the needs of the child and includes the child's interests.
  5. Provides the practitioner with an alternative view of the child and further insights into a child's development.
  6. Beneficial to a child's all-round development, particularly in the areas of personal, social and emotional, language and communication.
  7. Underpins the principles laid down in the foundation stage guidelines.
  8. The forest school experience has been very well received by all those involved in it.
  9. Provides opportunities for the children to take risks, problem solve and use thinking skills.
  10. Complements learning in the classroom and can be transferred.

Read an evaluation from the Principal of Dunclug Primary School about the Forest School Awards programme

Read an evaluation from the Principal of Rathcoole Primary School about the Forest School Awards programme