Outdoor learning has existed throughout the history of the human race, however the current forest school movement came to the UK in 1993 after educators took a trip to Denmark to see their form of outdoor learning in practice. The benefits to children of outdoor learning
have been clearly defined throughout this blog, it must be considered however that these benefits have also been with us since the beginning of the human race, though we now see them as recreational benefits, not lifesaving advantages. One could feel that this current educational focus on outdoor learning is due to the erroneous movement towards formal indoor learning in our schools, this has much fewer advantages offered to children, the very people that we are benefiting through schools. Though this area would need much more thorough research and analysis than was enabled by the time frames set, it would be a consideration for further work. It is hoped that the current fad for outdoor learning is maintained and that the numbers of children that benefit from it increases, as it is felt that something that is so beneficial should be available to all, as it has been throughout history.

It is apparent that when it comes to children’s play and learning it is holistic by nature, the two go hand in hand. While children are playing and exploring they are learning and developing skills required for later development, such as writing. Outdoor play gives children the freedom and confidence to spark wonder and curiosity and let imagination flow as they create their own resources and play, forest schools are mostly child led learning meaning that children are fully engaged while they are in an outdoor environment be it a playground or forest school.
Although it would appear that forest school is a fairly new concept in the UK, outdoor learning has always been encouraged with pioneers like Frobel and Steiner leading the way, and as stated in the history section of forest school one can see that children have been learning in the outdoor environment in all weathers for thousands of years.
There is little doubt that children gain immeasurable benefits from attending either a forest school session or enjoying outdoor play, although forest school does seem to offer more benefits in the way of risk and challenge for the children as can be seen in the blog section ‘risk and challenge’. In Forest school there is more opportunity to use tools and do gardening this offers children real life contextual experiences to learn from.  
From research it can be concluded that outdoor play is particularly beneficial to children with additional needs such as behavioural problems as the outdoor environment is a place where these children can make more noise and move faster, it offers them more freedom and for some children it can be a calming and soothing experience. Outdoor play and forest school also improves children’s well-being as they have a more positive image of themselves and their capabilities increasing their confidence and self-esteem, which is a foundation of their learning journey throughout childhood.
It is clear from comparison that children’s confidence and self-esteem have a huge part to play in a child’s learning and development, children with higher self-esteem appear to learn more easily than children with low self-esteem who may lack the ‘willing to have a go’ attitude due to the risk of failure.
All children have the right to outdoor play and learning and given the choice outdoors exploring and playing is where they would, generally, choose to be.

Overall, the most important characteristics of a great outdoors teacher have been discussed and analysed. The quotes used have supported any aspects of outdoor teaching and give good evidence as to what skills a practitioner requires. It has been taken into consideration
that each child is unique and this is the main aspect to remember when teaching Forest Schools. As mentioned previously, we must recognise each child’s views in order to provide the best quality experiences for them which are certain to extend their learning. The outdoor environment holds a large number of affordances for children, therefore these opportunities must be noticed and understood, as discussed within the post. Physical strength, imagination and thorough reflection have also been discussed as great skills. These three features are highly significant and must be utilised for the delivery of fun and educational experiences outdoors. The issue around children with disabilities being treated inclusively in Forest Schools, has been briefly highlighted. This is something that was open for elaboration through others views and thoughts and it will continue to attract interesting comments in order to summarise the overall opinion as to whether it is exclusive or inclusive.

The fact that Forest School stands alone as its own brand with very little support from the government, other than with its reference to outdoor learning, the writer feels that it is a wonderful concept, and if a setting is lucky enough to have trained forest school practitioners and have an area to implement forest school sessions they should do so. However because there is no legal requirements for Forest School, only that it should coincide with the curriculums and legislations with regards to outdoor learning, it should not be forced upon settings unless there is financial support and legal requirements processed in the future.  Due to it being beneficial for children and allowing them to thrive, with regards to their development, one would be contradicting personal beliefs and values of aiding children in any way possible to allow them to develop and learn within all areas, aspects and environments as so knowing that,
‘Forest School fits well both with traditional views of ‘good’ early childhood education and more recent curriculum frameworks in England and Wales, whilst also addressing current cultural concerns about children’s increasingly sedentary and managed lifestyles.’ (Maynard, 2007)
It would seem counter-productive to not want something, which is beneficial, to not exist within the UK and internationally for children. So one day Forest School may be available for all.

When it comes to reflecting on the opportunities to take the risk, and the comments received on risk taking, it is clear there is a need for both parents and practitioners to allow for risk, although this does not reflect in current media. In the news reports within the blog, it is clear
that children are still trying to be creative, but the police and others in the community still perceive children to be a nuisance. The government need to be clearer and perhaps bring in legislation allowing children to be able to play freely within their environment without fear of repercussions from outer sources. Forest School can enhance this experience for children over the age of two, and this would appear to be the only outlet for children.
Risk assessment allows practitioners to apply an acceptable risk and to enable parents to feel more secure about this type of activity if they are concerned about their child coming to harm without forethought.

Forest Schools have become well known and have developed immensely across the world 
since they were first introduced in Scandinavia. There are lots of countries that are 
providing Forest Schools for the children in their care and many more countries are beginning to make this experience available to their children too. Just making use of the space and resources which are already available can provide the first stepping stone in developing a Forest School in the future. Also as Forest Schools are seen to be beneficial to children’s overall development this could encourage more settings to implement Forest Schools.

As seen internationally, the UK has and is continuing to develop Forest Schools for children

primarily in the Early Years and Key Stage One. The growth of Forest Schools can be seen 

in the number of groups that are now taking part as well as the large number of people who 

are being trained up as Forest School leaders. In the UK Forest Schools have given 


the opportunity to access the outdoors and learn in a different environment which is 

important as nowadays children are spending less and less time surrounded by nature. 

Forest Schools can be an environment where children can learn so much and this provision

 should be maintained and developed in order to continue to provide this experience to 

children across the UK

To sum up the current outlook of Forest Schools, it has become very apparent that the UK has adopted a much more structured approach to that of other national countries, for
example Norway and Scandinavia. Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia where their approach is centred around nature and the children’s interests. However in the UK it has become recognisable that we simply do not have the natural surroundings like we used to, causing our connection with nature to slowly disappear. This was described as a potential worry for our future generations and readers thoughts were welcomed, to understand what the view is in the UK. Another point that was made, was that Forest Schools in the UK are teaching in the outdoors with a curriculum based overview. We must go back to the roots of Forest School and familiarise ourselves with the fact that it is in fact child initiated and focussed on their interests as well as their learning needs. It has been interpreted differently in many practices within this country and teachers are more concerned about the children’s education rather than the effectiveness of the experience. A question was included about the idea of technology and the future for our generation today. Instead of avoiding technology, we could embrace it and utilise it within the outdoors as mentioned previously. It is of interest, to gather your thoughts as a reader or practitioner as many people’s views differ on this idea.

The use of the character “Freddie” throughout this blog has enabled us to ensure that our work holds appeal across the board. As students we were required to write academically about Forest Schools, but we saw an opportunity to educate not only professionals, but to help parents and children see the benefit of outdoor learning and the Forest School approach. “Freddie” has enabled us to have some fun along the way, he has become very loved by children, and has developed quite a following, we will be sad to say goodbye to him!


  1. I am a health care professional working in the Netherlands. I saw this blog on Facebook through a friend of mine. In the past i worked in child psychiatry for a while and at present i see a lot of young people in their late teens and early 20's who have difficulty finding jobs or finishing school. I see a lot of people with developmental disorders like ADHD and Autism spectrum disorders. It is quite known that socioeconomic status can have a significant impact on mental health. In my own experience i noticed that kids from cities with these developmental disorders are more often from an urban environment and if they were not their symptoms seemed less severe. Intuitively it makes sense that a city with all its stimuli can overstimulate a person, especially a child who is sensitive to that. So it makes perfect sense reading about this forest school. I did a quick literature search about this and from what i saw this was confirmed. Very interesting to read about this and i will make use of this information in my work in the future. I will be more mindful to pay attention to what a child does and how much time they spend outdoors

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. We are very glad that you found our information informative and useful and that we have inspired you to conduct your own research. The various benefits of Forest School have lead to discussion about it being used as an aid to increase Emotional Intelligence in children, and this is an area that would benefit from further research. There is a movement of current theorists that agree with your point that urbanisation and increased usage of ICT have led to an increase in mental health issues in young people, this is discussed by Knight (2013, p. 40-42) and leads to her comment:
      "Forest School can help promote positive behaviour by providing for the normal needs of normal children, by addressing the roots of problems in others, and by helping children to develop acceptable coping strategies"
      (Knight, 2013, p. 42)
      Allowing children the freedom of outdoor play helps them develop as more rounded adults. An additional comment that may aid your work and help with further understanding is:
      “there are innumerable benefits of taking children into woodland but, as prosaic as it may sound, just the fact that there is nothing to break or damage, nothing to keep in order or to keep clean, will often immediately relax children and adults alike and give a sense of freedom to any endeavour.”
      (Pace, 2014, p. 5)
      The concept of utter freedom with no recriminations for breaking something must, surely, allow a child to utterly relax and gain the most possible benefits for their learning.

      Once again, we thank you for your comment,
      With Regards,

    2. References:
      Knight, S., (2013) Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years. London: Sage

      Pace, M., (2014) I Love Forest School – Transforming early years practice through woodland experiences. London: Bloomsbury


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