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What is a Forest School?

Forest schools are a type of outdoor education in which children visit forests/woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills. It has been defined as:

"an inspirational process that offers children opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment".

Forest schools use the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem. Topics are cross-curriculum (broad in subject) including the natural environment and recognition of specific plants and animals. However, the personal skills enhanced are highly valuable, such as teamwork and problem solving.

The woodland environment may be used to learn about more abstract concepts such as mathematics and communication. Forest schools are also called nature schools.

How will the Forest School work at Stoke Poges?

The Forest School runs from the back field allowing the children to become comfortable with an outdoor approach to education and play whilst in familiar surroundings.

The primary focus will be on developing the children’s independence and exploration skills, looking at the wildlife, mini beasts, den building and ‘flora and fauna’.

Once the children are confidently using this area we will be introducing other elements such as building, cutting and camp fires.

In addition to this, we have developed an area for the children to plant and grow their own fruit and vegetables, which they can later pick for meal times.

Outdoor learning activities

The natural world offers so many opportunities for learning. Here are a few specific outdoor learning activity ideas linked to the Forest School approach.

  • Cook on an open fire
  • Create a woodland nest for a bird
  • Create dens, shelters, bridges and sculptures
  • Collect colours from nature
  • Mark making exercises using natural materials
  • Create a woodland assault course for a squirrel
  • Hunt for minibeasts in trees, bushes, deadwood etc
  • Create a bug hotel
  • Plant trees, lay hedges, maintain ponds
  • Climb trees
  • Build fires
  • Listen to the heartbeat of trees (sap-rising)
  • Examine the shape, scent, sound and surface of various trees.
Health and Safety Checks

The Forest Schools leaders will carry out the daily site risk assessment and ensure all that each member of the group has the appropriate clothing and footwear. They will provide safety brief pitched at the appropriate level for the group and make sure the accompanying adults know the site entrance and the emergency evacuation point.

The daily Risk Assessment of the site will make sure there have been no major changes have happened since the last visit that might cause problems. This is recorded and appropriate action taken if necessary.

The full ‘Forest School’ curriculum will only be offered if a qualified leader is present.

Tools and equipment will be locked away at the end of each session.

Children will only gain access to the Forest School when accompanied by an adult.


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