What is a Forest School?
What happens at Forest School?
Benefits of a Forest School Approach
Forest School rules
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

If your particular query is not featured here, please contact us to ask for help/advice.

Q: How do you ensure the safety of each group?

A: The environment in which we work is comprehensively risk assessed prior to any activities taking place. The woods can be a risky place to play however we ensure we make the space as safe as necessary rather than as safe as possible. Appropriate risk taking is encouraged at Forest school sessions so as to educate the children in techniques to manage their own abilities and develop an understanding of what is safe to do and not to do. When using tools we have a structured approach to introducing the equipment and teach specific methods for carrying out their intended use. Every time a tool is used the exercise is closely observed by the Forest School leader so as to ensure correct procedures are followed.

Fire lighting is a favourite at our sessions and this activity is approached very responsibly and safely. We teach safe selection of a fire circle area, appropriate uses for the fire, the components required to start a fire, appropriate selection of tinders, kindling and maintenance fuel and how to build, light and maintain a fire. Once lit and established we put it to good use cooking lunch, toasting marshmallows or telling stories around it so as to ensure the children develop a healthy respect for the fire. 

Q: We already do ‘outdoor learning,’ so how is the Forest School approach different?

A: The Forest School concept of outdoor learning does not involve taking jigsaws and construction kits outdoors. There has been much misunderstanding of the term, ‘taking the indoors outdoors’ which has led practitioners to believe that this is the true interpretation of the phrase. 

The Forest School approach happens over time, but has a structured, yet relaxed atmosphere. The rules are few and simple and leaders focus on what a child can do; thus building self confidence and self esteem. Open ended activities, employing natural resources, with no wrong answers lead to individuals being valued/celebrated as being unique.

Take a look at our gallery and other pages to find out what a Forest School session may involve, but really each day is as unique as the children who attend! Generally we find that teachers are initially keen to measure progress – and yes this does occur, but really the benefits go beyond National Curriculum levels! There are many success stories – children become calmer, feel good about themselves, are justifiably proud of their achievements which may include fire lighting and using a knife or bow saw (under supervision of course!) Children will begin to learn in a way which is appropriate to themselves and once they understand how to learn, this benefit translates into other aspects of their life!

Currently there is much interest in boys’ underachievement – not so at Forest School – boys thrive in the spacious and challenging environment. We have witnessed a two year old Lithuanian boy engaged in a self chosen activity for in excess of twenty minutes. He set himself the task of transporting a log which was too heavy for him to carry and taller than himself; he problem solved the task and amazed us by not only moving the log, but setting it at right angles onto another log above his own head height! (We would have intervened if he was in danger!)

   A two year old boy spent twenty
minutes engaged in problem solving.

Q: What about toileting and food arrangements?

A: No worries! It brings a new meaning to the term ‘call of nature!’ We ask that children and adults make a toilet stop prior to travelling to the site. However, we know that ‘must go’ feeling and provide a toilet (camping style!) within the privacy of a tepee!

As far as food is concerned, we provide a mid session snack for the children which will be discussed with the adults prior to sessions commencing. We don’t usually have a snack break, but children are made aware that they can help themselves when they are ready. Full day courses will involve cooking a midday meal over the campfire and the Kelly kettle provides a welcome hot drink. Mid session snacks are also provided – morning and afternoon. Individual dietary requirements can be met and should be advised at the point of booking.

There is a strict ban on smoking, drug taking and drinking of alcohol at all Forest School sessions, due to the health and safety risks involved. Although we love all types of animals, please do not bring pets to Forest School.

Q: Are you insured to do this?

A: Yes we carry comprehensive and specialist insurance cover which permits the qualified leader to demonstrate and teach all aspects of Forest School. For your added safety, Mark also has an outdoor paediatric first aid certificate which is a much more demanding course than the usual paediatric first aid certificate. A well stocked first aid and burns kit is on hand too!

Q: How do you discipline the children?

A: Forest school sessions are held away from the usual setting and as such the usual rules do not apply. Trust is central to our approach – and this works both ways between adults and children. The children know that once the leader trusts them, they will be shown certain skills with tools – fire lighting, using a bow saw and whittling using a knife. As children are really keen to acquire these skills, they behave appropriately. Some children have a learned reaction – when they fear they will fail in a task, they use negative behaviour to either distract or to appear unbothered by their failure. At Forest School, there are no failures – because everyone’s contribution is right for them! The activities we use are challenging, but open ended and allow children to achieve at their own level. The woodland is such a child centred and magical environment that behavioural issues should be minimal, but we have lots of experience should issues arise!


Trust is central to the Forest
School approach. In this photo
Mark is teaching our own
daughters the art of fire lighting.

Q: Does the weather prevent sessions from taking place?

A: The only weather types which would lead to the cancellation of a session would be high winds and electrical storms. The reason for this is that dead wood in the tree canopy is likely to fall to ground level without warning. We all know that sheltering under a tree during a storm is not the wisest thing to do!

Children don’t notice the cold and wet if they are adequately clothed (we can advise on this and have a great range of waterproof clothing!)If it is very cold, we keep the children moving with lots of physical games. We allow children to explore muddy puddles and make collections of natural resources, therefore they will become muddy and wet. A few spare sets of clothes is a good idea. Our parents meeting will advise parents on the clothing which is required for sessions. This need not cause financial issues as any specialist items are provided by ourselves.

 There’s no such thing as bad weather,
only unsuitable clothing. Cosy and
warm in the snow!

Q: How can my school/organisation become involved?

A: A website, no matter how good, can only give you a taste of the special atmosphere at Forest School. If you like what you see here and want to find out more, please contact us using the details on the ‘contact’ page. We believe that we have something very special to offer and there is no such thing as a standard client group……so please get in touch and start your journey soon!!!

Q: What can you do for babies and young children?

A: Just as we’ve been told to take the indoors outdoors, there is much to be said for reversing this concept. When we work with the babies and toddlers, the first session is often indoors, utilising natural resources which we bring with us. We work with the carers/nursery nurses as the babies will have formed  relationships with them and we are effectively strangers to them!
We aren’t big fans of plastic, brightly coloured and noisy baby toys; we feel that there are so many sensory opportunities afforded by our natural collections. We play soft forest type music in the background and find that babies quickly become absorbed and concentrate for extended periods exploring materials offered.

  Easily obtainable resources present
babies and toddlers with sensory and
challenging opportunities.

Many baby rooms have safe outdoor surfaces and a range of plastic slides, sand trays, rockers and trikes. We can show you how to use easily obtainable materials to create fantastic outdoor learning opportunities when they are combined with the support of a sensitive adult.

Q: I work with children who have behavioural/emotional difficulties/at risk of exclusion – can you work with these children?

A: We would love to!! We are an inclusive organisation and believe that the Forest School approach reaches many children who are conventionally considered to be ‘hard to reach.’ At the on-site visit where we discuss requirements, it would be good to meet the children in order that they begin to become familiar with us. Depending on the group’s needs, an improved adult:child ratio may be required.

Q: We don’t have a suitable outdoor space, can you help us?

A: Oh yes, we’d love to help and relish a challenge!!! Get in touch!!

Q: What are the costs involved?

A: This is a bit like ‘how long is the piece of string question! There are some fixed standard costs, but much will depend on how many children/adults attend/whether a cooked lunchtime meal is required/whether the session requires consumable resources, e.g. the provision of willow.

Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements – we will conduct an initial visit to discuss your interest further. We do not charge for this visit. We will then provide you with a proposal and agree a price with you.

Q: Do I need any special equipment?

A: The simple answer here is “no.” You provide us with suitably clothed children and we will supply any specialist equipment, such as fire gloves, bow saws, knives and fire lighting equipment. If you subsequently decide you would like to purchase specialist equipment, we stock everything you will need.

Copyright 2010. By www.nurseryweb.co.uk.