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Forest School

Forest School 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 with trees.


Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.The ethos is shared by thousands of trained practitioners across the UK and beyond. Its roots reach back to early years pioneers in outdoor learning and across the sea to Scandinavia.


Our Forest School is run by Mrs Abigail Harding, a qualified Forest School practitioner with over 4 years experience leading Forest School sessions. She first worked as a FS Leader for Holbeton Pre-School. She has worked for Newton Ferrers Primary School running sessions both in their grounds and at Brookings Down Woods. She has also run her own Forest School business, Twiglets, for the under 5’s and has run sessions for Newton Ferrers Pre-School as well as organising forest school birthday parties.
Previous to being a Forest School Leader Mrs. Harding worked as a Primary School Teacher in Surrey for 9 years.


At Forest School all participants are viewed as:


  • equal, unique and valuable
  • competent to explore & discover
  • entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
  • entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
  • entitled to experience regular success
  • entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
  • entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world

This learner-centred approach interweaves with the ever-changing moods and marvels, potential and challenges of the natural world through the seasons to fill every Forest School session and programme with discovery and difference. Yet each programme does also share a common set of principles, aimed at ensuring that all learners experience the cumulative and lasting benefits that quality Forest School offers.


Principles of Forest School


These principles were first articulated by the Forest School Community in 2002. They were reviewed in 2011 and sent out for a 5-month consultation to Forest School networks and practitioners in all UK nations. They were published on the Institute for Outdoor Learning Forest School SIG page in Feb 2012, and in the minutes of the GB trainers’ network.

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 being, 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.


Curriculum Offer 


Our intention is that all of our learners experience Forest School sessions throughout the year.  The aim of the sequence of lessons will differ depending on the need of the children, all pupils will have the opportunity to develop their skill base each academic year from Foundation - Year 6.  Each year pupils build upon their skills previously learnt in their sessions.  

What do the pupils think about Forest School at Aveton Gifford?


"I really love forest school because we get to make homes for animals!" Harriet, Year 3


"My favourite thing about forest school is when we get to make food like pancakes and cakes" Freya, Year 4

Forest School Progression