What is Forest School and how does it enhance our curriculum?

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. It is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.

At Ludham, we run Outdoor learning sessions inspired by ‘Forest School’ so that all the children have a chance to develop a wide range of skills that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do so inside the classroom. It also supports our children’s self-esteem and confidence and allows them the chance to achieve things they thought they might not have been able to previously.

We also use ‘Forest School’ sessions as an opportunity to enhance other areas of the national curriculum and regularly carry out Science, Geography and Art related activities.

Although the Forest School programme has been viewed as an initiative for children in the Early Years for many years, it is clear to us that this programme offers many benefits for children throughout school. A high-quality learning experience for all children from all backgrounds, promoting:

  • development of practical skills, developing gross and fine motor skills
  • improvement of physical health and improved motor abilities
  • opportunities to undertake practical problem-solving, applying skills taught within the classroom
  • the opportunity to enrich and further extend the curriculum
  • development of greater independence and pupils’ confidence in leading their own learning
  • development of personal and social skills, collaboration, team-building and the ability to undertake conflict resolution
  • opportunities for all learning styles to be utilised and developed
  • the opportunity for all children to attain higher levels of knowledge, skills and to succeed regardless of ability
  • opportunity to develop pupils’ awareness of environmental issues
  • the development of the ‘whole child’
The school has written and implemented a ‘Forest School’ policy, which covers aspects of this learning experience and a comprehensive guide for volunteers who participate in the programme. The success of ‘Forest School’ at Ludham Primary and Nursery lies in a clear and shared understanding by everyone involved of the ethos, purpose and organisation of the sessions. Our ‘Forest School’ guide and our input ensures that everyone adopts a consistent approach to support the children in their experiences and learning.
Children are encouraged to set their own projects, select their own areas of the woodland in which to work and to select their own materials and equipment during sessions. The role of adults is that of facilitator, to support the children in their learning and to ensure that every child is safe.
The woodland area serves as an active learning ‘classroom’ without walls, with space for the children to explore, experience and develop their natural curiosity and learn in a practical context. Everyone involved understands that learning is a two-way process, where skills and knowledge are shared, and collaboration and teamwork are valued. 

Each week, all classes have a Forest School session. We believe that outdoor learning is something all children should have regular access to in order to better develop their understanding of the world around them, apply learning from a variety of different subjects and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

The below document demonstrates how Forest School is utilised to enhance the EYFS curriculum. Forest School provides the children with the opportunity to develop a wide range of knowledge and skills. This bespoke document provides our staff with the opportunity to assess children’s learning in the Forest School against the Early Learning Goals. It also enables staff that lead Forest School to work alongside the EYFS teacher to ensure we provide a bespoke curriculum that is specifically designed around the current EYFS cohort.