All about Forest School

Sweden is the originator of the modern day Forest School, having started there in 1950’s it quickly spread through Scandinavia and is now embedded in their education system. The first forest school was opened in the UK in 1995 at Bridgewater College, Somerset and they have since spread capturing the imagination of  practitioners  as they become aware of how children’s learning and development can be enhanced by outdoor learning.

All modern pre-school practitioners are aware of the benefits of outside play for young children through the work of McMillan in Deptford the 1900’s. She was a strong advocate of fresh air to promote well being and strong healthy children.


However the forest school movement can trace its roots back to the 19th century and the educational theorist Pestalozzi. The German philosopher Frobel trained under Pestalozzi, believed in using the natural world as a learning environment, having left school to become a forester he developed a love of nature and shared this with his students. His child centred approach for young children is a key theory still up held in forest schools today.





12.30 -2.30pm


12.30 -2.30pm

How Noahs Ark forest School started


In the summer term 2010, Angela accompanied 12 children to Forest School at Itchen Valley Country Park. With backing from the lottery  they had received funding to set up a forest school for schools and education groups to visit for six sessions spread over a half term.

Angela and Helen were inspired! Noah’s Ark already a strong ethos of outside play and visits to parks, but suddenly a Forest School offered the children to learn in the natural world.

Children  benefit from Forest Schools:-

  • Increased confidence and self esteem,

  • Greater vocabulary,

  • Awareness of consequences and working co-operatively,

  • An ability to focus on specific tasks for extended periods of time,

  • Improved Stamina and gross motor skills,

  • Increased respect for the environment

    (NEF 2004)


    So the training commenced and in Septemer 2011 Forest School opened


Forest School Principles

Every forest school is unique as the woodland they work within defines their setting, however we all share common believes and ethos:-

  • The setting is not the usual one.

  • The Forest School is made as safe as is reasonably possible.

  • Forest School happens over time.

  • There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

  • Trust is central.

  • The learning is play based and as far as possible, child initiated and child led.

  • The blocks and the sessions have beginnings and ends.

  • The staff are trained.

Knight,S (2009) Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years