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How to Set Up A Forest School

How to Set Up A Forest School

This section contacts information on how to set up a forest school. You will want to provide the best Forest Schools opportunity for your learners that really harnesses the potential of using nature as a canvas for learning as well as the developmental potential by being involved in a learning community.  We have spent many years developing the highest, most complete approach to becoming a Forest Schools Practitioner and are creating new and exciting ways to continue that journey after you have become a Practitioner.

Setting Up A Forest School

Creating Your Forest Schools

The four stages to being able to run Forest Schools

Stage One - Identify

Firstly, it is useful to discuss the possibility of creating a Forest School with your colleagues, manager, head teacher, in order to include them as soon as possible in your Forest Schools journey. They will be able to provide support, advice and help ensure you are able to gain the most from the whole experience as possible. If you are working for an educational setting, you can begin to identify where you Forest Schools will provide new and important opportunities for your learners, as well as how it can contrive to initiatives and other long term goals.

To create Forest Schools, you need a few things;

A Qualified Practitioner
You can explore the training process and experience by following the link below to the Training section. which will give you all of the learning you need in order to be able to begin setting your Forest Schools, which then continues with support, developmental training, and consolidation to qualify you as a Forest Schools Practitioner.

A Site
Your Forest School programme will initially run from your own site, grounds, gardens or playing fields potentially if this is appropriate. This allows your learners to become comfortable with the Forest Schools outdoor approach to learning and play whilst still in their familiar surroundings. Relationships can be developed based on trust and self-awareness, these developments will facilitate the reflective learner led approach to the outdoor curriculum that underpins the Forest School ethos.

When your group is ready you can then get to know the route to your very own special Forest School wood, which might be within walking distance or require transport. You will then have your very first session in the woodland, you will all explore your site, investigate and begin the sense of ownership and belonging, you may also consider discussing boundaries at this point both physical and behavioural.

A Group
Whether this is an already established group or one that is being created specifically for Forest Schools experiences, this group will be those who form your Forest Schools and benefit from the regular, long term experiences as a community and within a natural space.

Stage Two - Training

Your training will provide you with the foundations to develop Forest Schools for your school, group, centre or yourself, independently.  You will be introduced to the core ethos and approach of Forest Schools and experience it throughout your training.  A core element of your training will be to explore how to establish basic needs and how to provide the appropriate resources and conditions to enable learners to feel safe, comfortable, part of the group and capable of success.

Maslow Needs Education

Meeting Basic Needs
Many of you will have heard of Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs which in order for children and adults to feel comfortable and be prepared for learning and enjoy themselves, basic needs need to be established before higher level opportunities can be engaged.  Examples include:

Warmth – Correct clothing can be provided.

Food –Healthy food and targeted nutrition will ensure greater concentration.

Drink – Keeping hydrated means that the food that is eaten can be digested and used to its maximum potential, water and hot drinks.

Safety – Providing a positive learning environment and routines and boundaries will mean individuals feel safe both physically and emotionally.

Your training is a well-rounded, all-encompassing training experience in understanding and applying Forest Schools ethos and methodology.  You will learn how to recognise trees and plants, how to enable appropriate risk taking as well as how to deal with introducing new elements to the learners.  You will explore the underpinnings of Forest Schools experiences through experiencing it yourself and you will be able to plan for your return from you experience, able to begin applying everything to your own space.

Stage Three - Consolidate

During the consolidation period of your Forest Schools journey, you will applying the learning you have experienced during your initial training and applying them to your own circumstances, be it a school, youth group or some other group. During this time you will work with your colleagues to introduce the Forest Schools approach to learning and development as well as put in place key provisions to enable your experiences in nature to be as positive and beneficial as possible.

You will also develop a portfolio of evidence that will enable you to recognise specific examples of where the unique approach of Forest Schools has had an impact on the learners as well as create a reference document for your continued practice as a qualified Practitioner. This will also serve as your qualification evidence.

Stage Four - Qualify

Upon completing your consolidation period and having been able to start the process of creating your own Forest Schools, you will receive additional training, developmental support and guidance through a second training week. This experience enables you to review your development and progress so far, demonstrate your ability to apply the ethos, methodology and practice and celebrate your success!

This final phase will ensure you are equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to become a Qualified Forest Schools Practitioner and be able to create transformational experiences in natural spaces.
Here you will also be planning further programmes and developing the Forest Schools provision as well as enabling others to understand what is capable and beginning their own Forest Schools journey!