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Forest Schools

Bignold Primary School and Nursery: ‘An inner city school with outdoor learning’

Jo Clitheroe, Bignold's Science Subject Lead, is Bignold's Forest School Champion.

Congratulations to our amazing Bignold teachers who have all been granted their Forest School Level 3 leader awards.

They are Will Emmens ( Year 6 teacher) and Amber Bowyer ( Reception teacher).

Q.  What is Forest School?


A.  Forest School England defines Forest School as:


‘….an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults, regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence and self esteem through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’


The Forest School ethos:  Forest school is a long-term student-led, educational process that promotes, observes and explicitly supports the social, emotional and physical development of children in an outdoor setting.  There is a higher than average staff to pupil ratio because of challenging/intensive, risk taking activities.  Children are encouraged to consider and care for the environment.

The History of Forest School


Forest School in the UK has been adapted from a Scandinavian approach to learning. The original source of the concept was from Sweden in the 1950’s and spread to other Scandinavian and European countries. In the mid 1990’s a group of nursery nurse students and lecturers from Bridgewater College, Somerset visited Denmark and witnessed the benefits of the Danish Forest Schools firsthand. They were so inspired that they brought the concept back to the UK and started what is now recognised as ‘Forest School’. Since the 90’s interest in the Forest School concept in the UK has been growing exponentially. Presently, most parts of the UK have some Forest School happening, although it is organised in different ways.

Q. How would a Forest School programme help pupils at Bignold?


A. A study by ‘Play England’ (2012) has shown that a third of parents won’t let their children try ‘risky activities’ like climbing trees.


A study by Murray and O’ Brien on behalf of the New Economics Foundation ( ‘Such enthusiasm- a joy to see’ An evaluation of Forest School in England) shows how Forest School can help meet government targets as laid out under ‘Every Child Matters’.



Other studies by L Jenner and R Kenny show:


  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Improved social skills
  • The development of language and communication skills
  • Improved motivation and concentration
  • Increased knowledge and understanding of the environment


Other benefits are described in detail in the ‘Forest School Norfolk guide’ (2009) on page 8. Included are physical, mental health and social benefits, improved risk awareness development and improved behaviour.


Stephen Moss’ ‘Natural Childhood (2012) report presents compelling evidence that we as a nation, and especially our children, are exhibiting the symptoms of a modern phenomenon known as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’.



It’s not just children who need nature, nature needs children too.  Research shows that 12 is the magic number – if you get children hooked on the outdoors by 12, they’ll be interested in the environment for life. (National Trust 2012)

Bignold Forest School Handbook