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What is Forest School?

The Forest School approach initiated from Scandinavia, where learning in the outdoors has been a key part of their curriculum since the 1950’s. The use of outdoor woodland allows children to develop independence, confidence and self-esteem. Nursery teachers and nursery nurses visited Denmark in the nineties and witnessed for themselves the positive results of incorporating the outdoor environment into early education.

The philosophy and practice of Forest School was brought to the UK in 1995                                                 when Bridgewater College, Somerset, became the first Forest School. Children started partaking in woodland activities, and the success of the Bridgewater project resulted in a Forest School training course being established, with leaders being trained and supported across the UK. The Forest School initiative has been spreading since the nineties and in 2000, Evesham College became a Forest School. Since then more than 300 forest schools have been set up in Worcestershire.  Although, initially Forest Schools were focused on the Early years and Foundation Stages, the past five years have seen Forest School being incorporated into all Key stages, with a more recent focus on Key Stage 3.

There are now a number of organisations which provide Forest School training, making this approach readily available to local authorities across the UK.  The most recent milestone in the development of Forest School learning was in July 2012 when the independent Forest School Association was established. The aims of this organisation are to support practice, ensure quality, and provide training to further develop the Forest School philosophy.  The National Forest School Network also offers support to Forest School teachers and practitioners with a view that ideas and good practice will be shared across the UK. The passion and enthusiasm for Forest School continues to grow with the Forest School Learning Initiative                                                     having trained over 800 Forest School leaders making it possible to implement                                                Forest Schools across the country.

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