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Great Abington Primary School

Forest School

Forest School at Great Abington

One of the key principles of Great Abington’s Curriculum is that we want to provide rich opportunities for the children to explore their learning including through physical, practical and creative activities. Therefore, outdoor learning is a regular part of school life and all classes regularly take part in learning at the local Abington Woods. Apart from January and February when the Woods are closed the school hire the Woods for a day a week enabling us to embed this opportunity within our curriculum offer. 


In addition, certain classes across the school now take part in specific ‘Forest School’ sessions. We have invested in training and now have two Level 2 Forest School Leaders: Miss Waddington (Class 1) and Mrs Colchester (Class 4), who will be leading Forest School sessions for their classes and cover all key stages.  In 2021 we were selected to become a beacon 'Tall Trees' project school for Cambridgeshire. Working with Huathe we have developed our practice and look forward to sharing our expertise with other schools as the programme develops.




What is Forest School?

The Forest School concept originated in Denmark. It 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. This learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference.


At its heart is the concept of providing sensory, child-led outdoor play, encouraging and stimulating curiosity and absorption. Children will engage in motivating and achievable tasks and activities throughout the year and in almost all weathers, with the appropriate footwear and clothing. Children will work with tools, play, learn and begin to understand the boundaries of behaviour, both physical and social. They will grow in confidence, self- esteem and motivation whilst developing an understanding of the natural world.


Principles underpinning Forest School

  • Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions  
  • Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.  
  • Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.  
  • Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
  • Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.  
  • Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners.


Forest School Activities

We aim to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and to attempt new ideas. The Forest School Leader will introduce new skills when children display a safe and secure understanding of how to manage risk safely. Fire and tools are higher risk activities and are therefore, introduced through 1:1 teaching or small group activities.  

Some suggested activities might include:  

  • Shelter building | Playing team and group games | Fire lighting | Cooking on an open fire
  • Activities to develop resilience and safe risk-taking e.g. rope swing, rope ladder, rope bridges
  • Tool use | Mud play | Studying wildlife | Woodland and traditional craft  
  • Art and sculpture work | Developing stories and drama and meeting imaginary characters 


Clothing expectations

In order for the children to enjoy their Forest School sessions and be able to participate fully, it is crucial that they are appropriately dressed. It is important that all clothing is clearly named and OK to get wet and muddy.


Children should wear:

  • Sturdy outdoor footwear - trainers or walking boots are preferable to wellies, as they are easier and safer to run and climb in
  • Long trousers | Long sleeved top | Waterproof coat and waterproof trousers
  • In autumn / winter: additional base layers e.g. warm jumper; thermals if very cold
  • In summer: hat and sunscreen
  • Spare socks and change of clothes for when they return to school