What is Forest School?

The philosophy of @Play Forest School Clevedon is to encourage a unique way of building independence, self-esteem and a positive attitude towards learning in children and young people as they explore and experience the magic of the natural world for themselves. A combination of freedom and responsibility is beneficial to children with challenging behavior or little confidence. Valuable life skills are learnt – communication, team working and responsibility.

Forest school started in the Uk at Bridgwater in 1993, a team from Bridgwater College visited Denmark on an exchange visit and were inspired by the encouragement the Danish schools give to outdoor activities. On their return to the UK, they set up the Forest School – the first of its kind in the UK – which has now become widely accepted across the country as a valuable mode of learning for all ages and client groups.

Forest School offers a holistic approach to learning in a woodland or other natural outdoor setting.

Learning in Forest School is often, but not always, focused on the woodland environment itself, with learners discovering the natural environment and developing a relationship with it through building shelters and camps, exploring fauna and flora and becoming involved in conservation activities. This focus can be aligned with learning across curricular areas while simultaneously supporting personal, social and emotional education.

By promoting child-centered and child-led learning that is active and collaborative, Forest School enhances learners’ orientation to and capacity for learning as well as developing independence, self-confidence, and responsibility. And by engaging learners in practical, outdoor activities, Forest School contributes to physical competences and well-being.

Childhood experiences of playing with nature also instil a sense of wonder, stimulating creativity, imagination and symbolic play.

“We want to equip our children with the skills and knowledge to reach their potential and help them make informed decisions about themselves and their environment. The whole range of woodland linked activities I have seen today plays a vital role in this. While children are outdoors they are also more active than in the classroom, helping contribute to a healthier lifestyle”

Jane Davidson, Education Minister, November 2002

A non-classroom environment gives children increased stimulation and encourages a greater learning potential. We allow everyone to grow and discover their abilities without fear of criticism or failure.

When working and thinking in a Bush Craft sense the emphasis is on having fun whilst learning valuable skills.

The students taking part in activities such as team building games and exercises, like den building or making crowns, every thing specially tailored for the age and capabilities of the group. Everything we do helps and develops healthy body and mind.

Who is Sam (Founder and owner of @Play in the woods):

He is qualified in Forest Skills and Leadership;  in Play Work, also has  City and Guilds qualification teaching; Managing behaviour in children. He is conversant in woodland tree safety and management. Has worked as an after school club leader and with the Scouts. Completed safeguarding and domestic abuse training, has participated in CHild Protection courses. Has a CRB (DBS) checked by Lions International and also a member. Plus he is a father of three.