What’s Forest School?
Forest School is… “an inspirational process that offers children… opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment.”
Forest School (England) Network
Forest School is about the ‘whole’ child. Activities are designed to develop physical, emotional and social skills. Each session is evaluated, in respect of each child, to ensure that what’s done next session furthers the progress of individuals. Forest School is about facilitating individualised learning, rather than about group-led learning experiences.
Forest School delivery is flexible, in response to the needs of the particular children involved, which is what helps each and every child not just benefit from the experience, but shine! Book for a free taster Forest School session on Sunday 27th September.
Open the tabs below to read more…
Is it like School, but outside?
Yes and No!
Forest School is not about listening to a teacher telling you what you must do, but there are still some rules to be followed to keep everyone safe.
Forest School happens outside and involves a lot of play-based activities with ‘risk’ levels managed according to individual needs.
The Forest School leader is qualified to run a Forest School and has up to date First Aid and food hygiene certificates.
What happens at Forest School?
Everyone learns skills to help them stay safe, individually and as part of a group, so all can experience a relaxed and fun time, enjoying the delights of playing in a wild outdoors space.
Activities are introduced to the group and individuals on a ‘readiness’* basis and can include:
- Exploration games
- Working with saws
- Using woodland management tools
- Learning about the plants and animals that live in a woodland
- Making things with wood, from the wood!
- Den building
- Experiences to encourage imagination and creativity
- Camp-fire building
- Cooking over an open fire
* Readiness – this means that the Forest School leader will assess individuals as to whether they possess understanding, relating to the risk involved in a particular activity, through demonstrating behaviour for staying safe, in relation to themselves and others.
Accidents can happen, but we try to minimise the risk to individuals through risk-management of activities and situations and building risk-awareness.
Risk-management is a skill individuals learn at Forest School, with the aim of influencing their approach and appraisal of other risky situations in the wider world.
What are the benefits of Forest School?
Considerable research shows that Forest School helps children
- Gain self-confidence
- Encourage independance
- Improve social skills
- Increase attention span
- Develop problem solving skills
- Encourage creative thinking
“A marvellous opportunity to learn”
Forestry Commission report – Liz O’Brien and Richard Murray
How long is each Forest School session?
Session length can vary from a couple of hours to half a day, or even a whole day at a time.
For children aged from 4 to 10 a two hour session, run on the same day over several weeks, has been found to deliver most benefit. Forest School research shows that a minimum of 6 weekly sessions is required to fully appreciate the benefits to an individual from attending.
We appreciate other family happenings can make commitment to a block of 6 weekly sessions challenging. So, this Autumn we’re providing a new model that will suit beginners and those who’ve attended Forest School last year and want to return.
The model will be an initial 3 sessions for beginners, followed by a further 3 weeks for those who want to be involved in more advanced play activities, joining those who’ve attended our Forest School in the past. The sessions start on Sundays 6th September.
Do parents attend Forest School with their children?
If your child is under 5 we would require a parent or relative to accompany them.
If your child is over 5 we want the children to participate and learn at Forest School without parental influence. So, we direct parents to visit the Skylark cafe at Brigstock Country park, which is only a mile away, for the duration of the Forest School session.
The Skylark cafe serves light snacks, delicious home-made cakes and has become the place where several friendships have been forged between parents of children who attend our Forest School. (It’s also warm and dry, which isn’t always the case at Forest School).
How much does it cost?
For three two-hour sessions of Forest School the cost is £30.00. If brothers or sisters wish to come along too, there’s a reduction to £25 for them to attend at the same time.
Parents attending with children under 5, or where special needs require parental attendance, there is no charge for the supporting adult.
Included in the price is a drink and snack, provided for everyone attending the session.
Please read our Terms and Conditions for further information on booking procedure and cancellation policy
Who runs the Forest School sessions?
Susan Collini is a qualified Forest School Level 3 Leader with up to date Paediatric First Aid and Level 2 food hygiene certificates. Susan worked for many years as a teacher, working within mainstream and special needs educational provisions. Susan now works with organisations delivering training in effective communication and is also on a mission is to encourage children to connect more with nature and less with WiFi..!
Liz Williams has qualifications in conservation and environmental education, has worked in country and urban parks, schools and wild spaces, creating and leading innovative outdoor learning and play sessions. Latest projects involve taking mobile mud kitchens into schools and creating works of art with groups using natural materials and giant weaving looms. Liz is on a mission to help everyone experience as much fun outdoors as she does!
We also have a number of volunteers who all undergo training in Forest School procedures.
Everyone who will be working with children and vulnerable adults is Police checked.
“The boys particularly enjoyed the den building and making the fire. My eldest son benefited from the sessions as he was able to explore his passion for wildlife. My youngest definitely gained confidence during the 6 weeks and it certainly helped develop his communication and social skills”
Naomi Cebula (2014)
“Forest school has been a wonderful experience for my daughter, she has taken so much from her sessions – making new friends, observing the seasons, fun activities, being mindful and respectful of nature, listening and following instructions, being free in a safe place – I cant say enough about the benefits of the project”
Katie Paton (2014)
“Both boys really enjoyed Forest School and looked forward to it each week.
“As the six-week block of sessions progressed, both boys developed confidence and their communication skills improved at home, as too their independence”
Cara Kemsley (2014)