Starting out as an EYFS teacher.

What is a forest school?

A forest school is a space within a woodland area where children can learn. Children are given free time to play and they are also given adult-led activities. There are some important qualities that define a forest school:

  • Regular visits to the forest, usually once a week at least.
  • Use of a woodland setting.
  • A qualified leader.

A forest school is a place where children can take risks in a secure environment. The ratio of adults to children is ideally 1:3 to allow for activities that would not be possible in the classroom such as toasting marshmallows on a fire. In all of the research I have done, building confidence is something that has always appeared. This is so important for young children to develop their confidence and to enjoy school.

Why is it relevant to me?


Whilst forest school is for everyone, it is particularly suited to foundation stage children as at this stage their outdoor learning is seen to be just as important as their indoor learning. However the foundation stage style of teaching and learning is being transferred into KS1 in some schools. I am training for the 3-7 age range and have always been keen on outdoor learning since starting my course. During my second year in training I was given the opportunity to do a work placement with the North York Moors Education Team. This was a wonderful experience working with the team educating children around the North York Moors. This experience fuelled my interest in outdoor learning and has led me to study forest schools for my final year in training.

I was fortunate enough to visit a very good forest school yesterday. The first impressions were impressive as the resources they have were great. When I arrived the children had already spent the morning outside and were preparing to go back out again (getting on wellies and waterproofs!). The afternoon was a mixture of child-initiated learning and adult led learning. The children were clearly enjoying their learning as I saw them all happy and engaged. In my opinion this is what learning looks like and if you need to bring children outside to achieve this, then do it is what I say!

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Comments on: "A visit to a forest school" (2)

  1. Jo liversidge said:

    Hi Lydia
    I am so glad you enjoyed the visit yesterday. In my opinion you cannot beat forest schools for giving children the best start(and middle and end!). We spend a lot of time thinking and planning on how best to meet the needs of the children and by taking a step back and observing them, you can really begin to see them as individuals. As you will also have seen first hand the planning can go out of the window because something else is more relevant! Forest school training is invaluable because it is the ethos behind the practice that makes it forest school, not just a series of outside activities.
    I know I have changed because of the training and believe myself to be a better practitioner because of it. I recommend it to anyone who really wants to engage with and understand the children they teach better!
    …….. Best job in the world!!!!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Clare Fenwick and James Langley, Lydia Pitkethly. Lydia Pitkethly said: New blog post: A visit to a forest school: What is a forest school? A forest school is a space within a woodland … http://bit.ly/bY6u6J […]

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