Forest School


Forest School is a concept which has come from Scandinavia. It has been adapted for England since 1995 through Bridgwater College in Somerset. There are now Forest Schools across England and Northumberland, enjoying the learning opprotunities that comes with the natural classroom.  We are extremely lucky to have our own private woodland & nature on site, as often schools have to travel to public woodlands for Forest School sessions. Our new Forest School opens in the summer 2024 and is led by Mr C Hilton & Mrs K McLeod. Children are timetabled for Forest School on a termly basis. Because we have a specialist teaching Forest School, children’s learning develops all the time. We make good links across the Curriculum in all sessions. 

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

Currently at St Mary's, children have an experience of Forest Schools during one term in each academic year – often this takes the form of one session per week for one half term.

  • Forest School takes place within the natural environment of the extensive school grounds to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world and to develop children’s awareness and appreciation of their natural surroundings
  • 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
  • Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners at St Mary's Primary School who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

The Benefits of Forest School:

  • Raises self-esteem, skills in cooperation and listening, empathy and enthusiasm for learning in every child who attends.
  • Children learn about and develop a respect for their natural environment.
  • Every child can take part in and be successful in Forest School, regardless of ability or need.
  • Allows children to learn at their own level and in their own style.
  • Builds on children's innate motivation, curiosity and autonomy.
  • Allows children to take and manage risks in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Encourages children in a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Encourages and inspires children through positive outdoor experiences.