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Outdoor Learning

What is a forest school?

What is a 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 woodland or natural environment with trees.

Forest School is a child-centered inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.

Forest School has a developmental ethos shared by thousands of trained practitioners around the world, who are constantly developing their learning styles and skills to support new and imaginative learners. Its roots reach back to the open-air culture, friluftsliv, or free air life, seen as a way of life in Scandinavia where Forest School began. It arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then.

The process helps and facilitates more than knowledge-gathering, it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. It creates a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try stuff out and take risks. Forest School inspires a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how a learner fits within it. Our approach to risk means that learners constantly expand on their abilities by solving real-world issues, building self-belief and resilience. We believe that risk is more than just potential for physical harm, but a more holistic thing, there are risks in everything we do, and we grow by overcoming them. Forest School therefore, helps participants to become, healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners.

Our Forest School Teacher, Miss Eliza Small (HLTA) is a fully trained Forest School Leader. She has a Level 3 qualification and many years of experience at delivering Forest School sessions. 


Outdoor learning in our forest school area

Outdoor Learning

The Forest School and Outdoor Learning site is a fantastic resource not just for Forest School sessions, but for all our teachers and staff to use in their daily lessons. As a staff we are developing our skills and knowledge to teach the children outdoors across the whole curriculum. This includes more formal lessons such as Maths and Literacy as well as other subjects such as Art, Science, History etc. Even less obvious outdoors lessons such as ICT can be taken out of the classroom. This supports staff to provide a fun, creative and ultimately more memorable learning for the children. When learning is memorable, children will retain and build upon knowledge and facts across the curriculum. 

Staff Training

Our Outdoor Learning Lead, Sarah Ryan, and teachers have been working in partnership with a team of skilled outdoor learning professionals from The Eden Project. They have been supporting us to re-design the whole school outdoor space along with staff training to plan and deliver exciting lessons that link to our planning and curriculum. The have inspired staff with training outdoors and supported us in the planning process too. 

What the children think

After speaking to the children in our school, it is clear that they absolutely love to learn outdoors. They recall huge amounts of the learning and activities that have been taught outdoors and are always hopeful for more. It is this reason that we are working hard to plan as many lessons outdoors as possible and are continuing to develop the outdoor spaces and skills of our staff to deliver lessons. The children make reference to learning outdoors being more fun, active and they enjoy being outdoors with nature. The following quote from a Year 5 pupil helps to sums up opinions:

"Being outside helps us get some actual fresh air. It helps your mental wellbeing to be close to nature."

Futures Plans

There are larger plans for the future to develop all the outside spaces at St Columb Major Academy. Children will have inviting and meaningful spaces to play at break times and learn outdoors during lessons. The children and the local community will help to develop the site so they take real ownership of it.