Forest school

A woodland based programme for children and young people aged between 9 and 18 years old. Suitable for schools, youth and play groups.

Forest School is an innovative programme that is based around the idea of running a regular out doors “classroom” where groups can come for two hour sessions over the course of up to a year.
The Forest School Initiative originated in Denmark in the early 1980’s and has recently arrived in Nottinghamshire. Wild Things is working in partnership with other local environmental education, youth and play providers, to establish a Forest School Service in Nottinghamshire.

Forest School is designed to:

- build and develop group work and co-operation skills
- increase learners confidence, initiative, and independence,
- provide a supportive learning environment to suit individual’s needs and learning styles
- increase practical and planning skills
- increase individuals appreciation and knowledge of the natural world

What takes place at Forest School?

Forest School programmes are designed carefully to meet the needs of the individual group. Some of the challenges that learners of all ages will face at Forest School will include;

- Setting up camp;
Over the course of the programme the group will be based at their own camp or classroom in the woods. One of their first challenges is to set up this camp. They will need to work together to plan and design it, and to build a group shelter, fire pit, fire guard, saw horses etc.

- Learning to safely and responsibly use hand tools;
The learners will be introduced over the sessions to the safe use of tools with the emphasis being placed on responsibility for themselves and each other. Some of the tools they will need to use include bow saws, bill hooks, loppers, mallets etc.

- learning basic woodland craft skills including; coppicing, constructing hurdles and brash fencing, making wooden mallets, and learning the appropriate lashings and knots they will need.

- learning to safely build and cook on a camp fire. It’s guaranteed that children and young people will soon become experts at cooking popcorn and dough twists!

- exploring what else lives on the site. There will be the chance to take a closer look at the other inhabitants in the wood and to explore how we can protect and increase their habitats.

- conservation and woodland management; Learners will take part in simple woodland management tasks over the programme to help increase and maintain the levels of biodiversity on and around the site.
They might be involved in building brash wood piles to provide new homes for woodland dwellers, or improving or building paths and fences to reduce our impact on the site.

- group work and planning:
All sessions will focus on group work, co-operative working and problem solving. Each session will start and finish with time around the camp fire circle where there will be the opportunity for the group to plan and evaluate together.

Forest School programmes enable children and young people to enjoy extended access to the natural world in a safe and supportive learning environment, whilst providing a unique and highly memorable learning experience.

Evaluation comments for Forest School:

-”A resounding success. Children used the words brilliant, outstanding, cool, wonderful...” (Greenwood Primary)

_”The responsibility given to the children particuarly developed self confidence and self-esteem” (Greenwood Primary)

-”Excellent variety of activities- suitable for young people with short concentration abilities.” (Ollerton Lifeskills Group)