Benefits of Forest School

The Forest School ethos fundamentally acknowledges individual learning processes by supporting participants at their own pace and following their lead as they explore a safe and stimulating environment full of sensory diversity and variability.

Woodlands are a fantastic learning environment: they are robust, resource-rich, sheltered, safe (as long as they are properly managed & risk assessed), often close to local communities, and constantly changing, providing an exciting place to learn.

“Participants have been shown to benefit in many ways including self confidence & self-esteem, team work, motivation, skills and knowledge, and pride in, and understanding of, their surrounding environment”

Forest School Evaluation Project: A study in Wales.
Liz O’Brien & Richard Murray, New Economics Foundation, 2003

Value Added Benefits

  • Rich supply of resources and materials for use in other curriculum areas.
  • Opportunities to involve parents and wider community
  • Chance for staff to observe students in a different setting.
  • Opportunities for staff to learn new skills, and enjoy the benefits of FS too!
  • Offers an alternative to our over reliance on digital and electronic sources for recreation, learning, socialising
  • Offers an opportunity to become fitter and healthier.
  • Participants learn to recognise and assess risks for themselves.

“Is it better for a child to break a wrist falling out of a tree, or to get a repetitive strain wrist injury at a young age from using a computer?”

“When children spend time in the great outdoors, getting muddy, getting wet, getting stung by nettles, they learn important lessons – what hurts, what is slippery, what you can trip over or fall from.”

Peter Cornall, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, June 2007

In addition, Forest School meets a variety of Government Objectives for “Healthy Living”, “Every Child Matters”, and “Inclusion”. Specifically, Forest School Programmes meet the following WAG strategies and policies:

WAG Information Document No: 022, 2007
Doesn’t mention FS but we hit all the buttons…
Forest School aims coincide with the Key Principles of Extending Entitlement especially to “support and encourage all young people to develop as individuals and to enthuse them with the value of learning.”

Forest School provides young people with the opportunity to access the following rights as described in Extending Entitlement:

  • “education, training and work experience – tailored to their needs;”
  • “basic skills which open doors to a full life and promote social inclusion;”
  • “sporting, artistic, musical and outdoor experiences to develop talents, broaden horizons and promote rounded perspectives including both national and international contexts;”
Active recreation: “By 2023 the percentage of people in Wales using the Welsh natural environment for outdoor activities will increase from 40 – 60% and the frequency of the experience will treble”.
  • Contribute to the delivery of the PSE curriculum
  • Emphasise the promotion of good practice, and prevent the habits of bad behaviour becoming ingrained, as opposed to dealing solely with their manifestations – to give alternative opportunities for those at risk from dropping out through partnership arrangements under Extended Entitlement.
  • Reduce the number of children, young people and adults with low literacy and numeracy by rekindling their interest in learning.
  • Address inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged areas by providing supported access to the natural environment.
  • Progressively adjust school working practices so they can operate more flexibly, innovatively and responsively by working in partnership as a resource of talented and committed practitioners.
  • Transform provision for 14 – 19 yr. old to break down artificial barriers to learning.
  • Apply the agenda for Lifelong Learning in ways that reflect the distinctive needs and circumstances of Wales taking full account of the functions and capabilities of local government, business contributions, and the vital support of the voluntary sector.
The Welsh Assembly Government Strategy for Trees and Woodlands.
Priority 1: “By maximising the use of woodlands for learning”.
Opening up new ways to work with communities using special woodland sites.

Acclaim for Forest School:

“This is the greatest day of my life”

Primary School child, Swansea

“the most wonderful experience I have ever had in my life. I learned so much”

Volunteer evaluation of Forest School OCN level 2 training

“We want to equip our children with the skills and knowledge to reach their potential and help them make informed decisions about themselves and their environment. The whole range of woodland linked activities I have seen today plays a vital role in this. While children are outdoors they are also more active than in the classroom, helping contribute to a healthier lifestyle”

Jane Davidson, Education Minister, November 2002