Forest School

Forest School

At Bluecoat Primary Academy we strive to support the holistic development of every child in our school and to help them grow into confident and responsible citizens, with a love, respect, knowledge and understanding of the natural world around them.  Learning inside the classroom can be enhanced and supported by taking the learning outside into the natural environment and providing unique opportunities to learn.

What is Forest School?

Forest school is outdoor, nature-based learning that focuses on the holistic development of the child, through a mixture of planned activities and child-led learning.  Forest School is a regular, long-term process, over a period of weeks or months, rather than a one-off outdoor learning activity, offering children the opportunity to spend regular sustained periods of time in a natural environment in all weathers, taking part in hands-on learning and play.  This allows the children to become familiar and ‘at home’ in the natural environment and enables them to observe the features and changes to the environment, such as weather, seasonal changes and the impact of human activity on the natural environment e.g. litter.  Despite the name, Forest School can take place in any natural outdoor environment.  At Bluecoat Primary Academy we are fortunate to have plenty of ‘green space’ which will enable us to develop our Forest School within our own school grounds.

What are the benefits of Forest School?

Research has shown that taking part in a Forest School programme has a positive impact on a child’s confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills and knowledge and understanding.   Forest School helps children develop many skills that are harder to teach in the classroom.   Forest School benefits include:

  • physical exercise and development of strength, fine and gross motor skills.
  • learning to assess, appreciate and take risks
  • making sensible, informed decisions about how to tackle activities and challenges
  • learning through trial-and-error which develops resilience to keep trying
  • learning to be self-sufficient and take care of themselves
  • independence, self-confidence, self-esteem
  • creativity
  • problem-solving skills
  • team-work
  • communication skills – some children are more comfortable to talk outside
  • developing nature-connection and understanding of and care for the natural world
  • the opportunity to achieve and flourish, regardless of academic ability
  • calming effect on behaviour
  • supporting mental and emotional health.

A marvellous opportunity for children to learn: A participatory evaluation of Forest School in England and Wales: Liz O’Brian and Richard Murray (2006, Forest Research)

Forest school ties in with many areas of the National Curriculum. For example, being outdoors year-round helps children learn about weather and the seasons, which are part of the programme of study in geography, studying mini beasts and plant life relates to the science curriculum, and working on tasks like den building and woodwork links with design and technology.  Child-led Forest School activities encourage the independent application of prior curriculum teaching and learning, such as mini-beast hunting or constructing a water tight den.

For further information regarding the BPA approach to Forest School, please read our Forest School BPA Progression Document

Contact Us

Bluecoat Academy Primary
Harvey Road

Tel: 0115 900 7200

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Bluecoat Primary Academy