Forest School


All about Forest Schools

Forest schools have been around since 1927, when H. L. Russell who was the Dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Winconsin-Madisonn first developed his idea of the school

During the 1950s Forest schools were introduced into Denmark, Sweden and other countries in Europe, and has become part of the curriculum for pre-school children

After a visit by Bridgewater College to Denmark in 1993 the idea of Forest schools was brought back to the UK. Bridgewater College started their own Forest school within the college with the children attending the crèche with excellent results, so much so that they devised a BTech course in Forest Schools for Early Years practitioners

Forest schools were then offered around the UK and the growth unprecedented within the UK, by 2006 there were approximately 140 Forest schools

In 2002 a network of practitioners held the first national conference at which a UK definition of Forest School was formulated: ‘An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’

Along with this, the network also identified some of the key features of Forest School:

  • It is run by qualified level 3 practitioners.
  • It is a long term process with regular contact with a local wooded environment (preferably over the seasons).
  • It follows a child-centred pedagogy where children learn about and manage risk.
  • It has a high adult:child ratio.
  • Observations of the learners are key to enabling scaffolding of the learning.
  • Care for the natural world is integrated.

Forest School Ethos

“An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland environment.

Forest Education Initiative 2005

Forest School gives children the opportunity to make their own decisions and take ‘risks’ which helps the children develop their self-esteem and confidence

Forest school allows children and young people the opportunity to learn through experience within a woodland setting in a hands on manner to develop their self-esteem and confidence

Forest school Involves

  • Child initiated learning;
  • Being outdoors;
  • Integration with the National Curriculum;
  • Delivery by a trained leader
  • Fun

Since acquiring our outside area a couple of years ago, we have used the area regularly in all weathers, forest school activities are an extension of our outside activities, as previously said enabling children to develop skills and acquire an extended knowledge of the nature, use of tools and risk management

How, where and when

Initially we shall be running a Forest school session once a week with a group of six children over a six week period, over the year all children will have the opportunity to participate.

We eventually hope the Forest school will become imbedded within our practise.

The session will take place in the Playgroup garden, we will go out in all weathers, there will always be a minimum of two adults with the children, and one adult will be a qualified Forest School practitioner. As the setting garden is mainly paved the leaders will on occasion bring in extra resources e.g. branches, logs and leaves etc. We hope the Church may give permission for us to use some of the church grounds to extend our Forest school, if this happens we will inform all parents.

Each session will start with a reminder of the rules and boundaries, we will then all participate in the chosen activity, allowing time for all children to work at their own pace, the session will end with drinks and biscuits and time for the children to reflect on the session


Equal Opportunities and Inclusion

Parkside Playgroup believe there should be equal opportunity for all. Our policies help to ensure that we promote the individuality of all our children, irrespective of ethnicity, attainment, age, disability, gender or background.

We understand that these factors affect the well-being of children and can impact on their learning and attainment. Our setting is committed to anti-discriminatory practice to promote equality of opportunity and valuing diversity for all children and families. We aim to:

  • provide a secure and accessible environment in which all of our children can flourish and in which all contributions are considered and valued;
  • include and value the contribution of all families to our understanding of equality and diversity;
  • provide positive non-stereotyping information about gender roles, diverse family structures, diverse ethnic and cultural groups and disabled people;
  • improve our knowledge and understanding of issues of anti-discriminatory practice, promoting equality and valuing diversity;
  • challenge and eliminate discriminatory actions;
  • make inclusion a thread that runs through all of the activities of the setting; and

foster good relations between all communities.

We provide an environment in which all children, including those with special needs are supported to reach their full potential


  • We ensure our provision is inclusive to all children with special educational needs
  • We provide practitioners to help support  parents and children with special educational needs (SEN)/disabilities
  • We are committed in working with parents who are fully involved in all decisions that affect their child’s education
  • We work in partnership with parents, and other agencies in meeting individual children’s needs
  • All children have a right to full access to Early Years education through the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • All children have a right to expect to learn in a caring and considerate environment where staff and the children are all valued for their contributions
  • We provide a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum for all children with special educational needs
  • We identify the specific needs of children with special educational needs and meet those needs through a range of SEN strategies
  • We monitor and review our practice and provision and, if necessary, make adjustments


Some of the activities children will be participating in


Mud Pies

An opportunity to get very dirty mixing soil and water to make mud pies, giving the children the opportunity to use their imaginations, physical skills and just the opportunity to get dirty without being told off!!!

Camouflage mask

The children are encouraged to make a mask from a paper plate and cover with natural resources found within the garden,     then in the trees to see how camouflaged they are, this activity will encourage discussion on colours, use of imagination, can lead to discussion of animals and how their colours help to protect them, it will also lead on to other activates such as a bug hunt and making ‘bug hotels’


Making Forest Jewellery

The children will cut discs of wood from a branch using a bow saw, then drill a hole to be able to thread string, the children will then be given the opportunity to decorate their medals. This activity encourages the use of different tools

forest6 forest5


More activities

 forest7 forest8 forest9 forest10 forest11 forest12 forest13 forest14 forest1 forest2


As we will be in the garden most equipment will be held in the setting i.e. medication, contact information, however the  Forest school leader will always have a fully stocked first aid kit, mobile phone, fresh water, wipes with the group.



Forest school will run throughout the year, so we advise parents to dress your child accordingly, layers are always good, as they keep a child warm and can be taken off if a child gets too hot. Its always best to have long sleeves in all weathers

Please ensure your child wears sensible footwear, wellingtons, trainers or sturdy boots – NO SANDELS



Suitable Footwear


Unsuitable footwear

forest-sliper  forest-sandle

In the winter hat and scarves, and a coat, preferably waterproof

In the summer a sun hat, and sun protection

Please Note – we do have a few raincoats and wellington boots here at the playgroup



Forest school

  • There activity will always be lead by a trained Forest school leader
  • The Forest School Leader has overall duty of care for the children in his/her charge, but all adults are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure children are safe.
  • The Forest School Leader or Assistant will have an up to date First Aid Certificate
  • The Forest School Leader or Assistant will carry a First Aid kit.
  • The Forest School Leader or Assistant will carry a First Aid kit.
  • In the event of an emergency, the Forest School Leader will ensure that the School contacts the emergency services.
  • The Forest School Leader will review the risk assessments before every session
  • When tools are used the adult: child ratio will always be 1:1