As part of the Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage Project a programme of Forest School activities have been funded and are taking place across the South Pennines. Through the promotion of natural play and fun, children and families have not only been exploring woodlands, but have also engaged with learning about woodland history and industry. These events serve to bring the story of South Pennine woodlands to life.
What is a Forest School?
Forest Schools were developed in Scandinavia in the 1950’s and focused on teaching young children about and in the natural world. The development of Forest Schools began in Britain in the mid 1990’s after a visit to Denmark by students from Bridgewater College Somerset began to apply what they had seen. Since then nationally recognised qualifications have been introduced and Forest School has spread to many areas as educationalists have witnessed the impact that it can have on children.
A Forest school is a type of outdoor education in which children (or adults) visit forests/woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills. It has been defined as “an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment”. Forest schools use the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in children and young adults.
Below are the principles which, when combined together, make Forest School different to any other form of outdoor activity.
Forest School is for all children and young people – The Early Years is where Forest School originated but its benefits are seen across a wide age range as progression in tasks and activities are easily built into all activities.
Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning for themselves.
Forest School is organised and run by qualified Forest School leaders.
Forest School maximises the learning potential of local woodland through frequent and regular experiences throughout the year, not a one off visit.
Forest School helps children to understand appreciate and care for the natural environment.
Forest School supports the development of the understanding of the whole child’s learning for all participants; leaders, parents, volunteers and teachers alike.
Of particular importance is the clear relevance of Forest School to the Every Child Matters agenda as well as other national agendas.