The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky
- Margaret McMillan*

Ofsted
Member
of the Institute for Outdoor Learning
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What’s Forest School?

Children running together to find the best sticks to make the best den. Free and laughing. They have come down a path lined with trees in a small woodland in their local area, the light dappled and the earth soft underfoot. It doesn’t matter that a fine rain is falling, they are absorbed in today’s activity….shelters and habitats.

After they have built their dens they will be playing camps and then relaxing around the fire, sharing tales, stories and achievements.

These children will have learnt a skill by completing a low risk task, have made a journey with their friends and thoroughly enjoyed their ‘free’ time in the open countryside. No special equipment needed, just an outside space with an experienced, qualified leader. The children are given clear instruction of how to stay safe - knowing their boundaries and the group’s expectations the children can relax, enjoy and express themselves.

They have experienced nature, changing seasons and plenty of positive praise. They have used natural materials, made friends and gained a sense of achievement. They leave the session ‘full up’.

This is Forest School. It is subtly structured, with risk assessments and plans running alongside the session. It can teach on many levels. It can run parallel to National Curriculum, focus on a special project children are working on, or a specific skill. It always helps boost confidence, allows children to grow at their pace and gives children a love of being outside. They appreciate what nature gives them and therefore their environment.

Basic Forest School practice is easy to pick up and take outside with your own children/class.

Examples of activities: