At the heart of the Forest School ethos is the principle of respect for self, each other and the natural world. The best way to learn to love and respect the natural world is to play in it with people who love and understand it. So many children and young people cannot bear to sit still indoors and thrive in the flexible sensory environment of Forest School, where they experience the interconnected cycles of light and dark, seasons, lifetimes and weather.
The natural environment is key to the Forest School experience. Forest School takes place in woodlands, forestry plantations, corners of school playing fields, wildlife gardens, parks, purposefully designed sites, back gardens and college grounds, to name but a few. The sites are preferably local for the participants, so they build a relationship with the site and learn about what lives there, and how to take care of it and how to use the natural materials from the site sustainably.
Participants are encouraged to undertake small conservation tasks, such as planting trees, protecting bluebells and making bird boxes. In addition, activities such as carrying in water, using a compost toilet, removing rubbish and searching for firewood encourage participants to think about these issues in the wider world.
Forest School programmes foster deep respect for the environment in general and woodlands in particular. Pupils retain their connection to Nature for years after leaving Forest School, and many express a desire to seek employment in a land-based industry once they leave school.
All Forest School programmes operate within a rigorous framework of policies and procedures to ensure that the woodland is used sustainably.
FSW supports the sustainable use of Welsh woodlands by FS practitioners for Learning and development by offering advice, CPD training and downloadable resources to help with Environmental Impact Assessment and Woodland Management Planning for FS sites.
Welsh Woodlands, Welsh Culture, & Cultural Diversity
Forest School takes place in Welsh woodlands, marginal scrub land, conifer plantations and on land claimed for building which not too long ago would have been woodland. The woodland environment is never far away in Wales, and Welsh landscape is steeped in the culture, and history of Welsh people. Forest School puts participants in touch with this, and actively engages them in a process of environmental and cultural awareness.
The rapid growth of Forest School provision in urban areas opens up access to outdoor play and environmental awareness to children and young people from diverse cultures. The natural environment stimulates physical movement, language and communication and often people’s stories are told round the fire, triggered by memories of other natural places.