Environmental Education and Forest School

Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland learning.

Forest School Association (FSA)

Brief History:

Forest School is a concept that has been developed from the Scandinavian approach to learning, where children from the age of 3-7 attend Early Years Education called måbørnspædagogik, or Forest School. In 1993 a group of Nursery Nurse Students and professionals from Bridgewater College, Somerset visited Denmark to observe Danish Forest School for themselves. What they discovered was so inspiring and innovative that they brought the concept back to Britain and set up the first British Forest School. They developed the first Forest School BTech in 1995. Since then the movement has grown from strength to strength. In 2003 the OCN qualifications were developed with the support of the Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission also formed the Forest Education Initiative, of which Forest Schools became a major contributor. In 2012 the Forest Schools Association held it’s inaugural meeting, under the umbrella of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, and aims to become a professional body to ensure consistent high standards across the country.

More information: History of Forest School – Forest School Association

The Concept:

The Forest School concept is a holistic way of learning. It has been defined by Forest School England as

“…an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults, regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.”

In Forest School children get the chance to play, explore and discover. The sessions are all about exploration of our surroundings. Teachers and Teaching Assistants can be as involved as they like. It may be a rare opportunity to simply take a step back and enjoy watching the children in a natural setting. Forest School can and is delivered alongside the conventional education methods to provide children with the ability to transfer their skills they learn into everyday life. The focus is on reconnecting (or in some cases ‘connecting’) children with their local outdoor environment, giving them the space and freedom to discover, play, explore and learn within a natural, outdoor setting. Forest School has and is being used with children of all ages; both mainstream and with children with specific emotional and behavioural needs, with fantastic results. Children that are known not to concentrate well in class are coming to Forest School and excelling in practical, hands-on tasks which engage them. Improved social skills, greater peer interaction, stronger relationships and better problem solving abilities are all benefits attributed to Forest School attendees. No child can fail at Forest School; they all manage to take something positive from the experience.

The Forest School Association website has a lot of information, and links to some really nice articles about the history of Forest School and the history of outdoor type education in the UK.



Forest School supports holistic learning and development. Its ethos can be mapped to various key documents.

Every Child Matters
EYFS Principles
EYFS 3 Prime and 4 Specific Areas of Learning

Good practice resource – Developing children’s learning through work in the natural environment


Good practice resource – The forest school: a thrilling and inspiring environment for pre school children


Good practice resource – Making the most of the local natural environment to support all round development of young children




Week Topic


2 Minibeasts
3 Autumn Leaves
4 Autumn Equinox
5 Autumn Pond Study
6 Autumn Tree Study
7 Fungi