Forest Schools

Forest Schools


Forest School (FS) is a unique educational experience and process that offers children the opportunity to succeed and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment.

Whilst FS supports and develop aspects of the EYFS, National Curriculum and other curricula, it is primarily concerned with the whole child, their approach to learning and developing self-concept.  The forest school experience and ethos is centred on the child leading in their learning, following an interest and engaging in their own curriculum.  It gives leaders, teachers and assistants a chance to “step back” and observe child and group behaviour in a different context and setting. The emphasis on all adults supporting Child Initiated Learning (CIL) enhances understanding and facilitates new or deeper relationships with pupils based on shared experiences.

The approach of small achievable tasks and a focus on the process rather than the end product helps pupils: 

  • Develop personal and social skills
  • Work through practical problems and challenges
  • Use tools to create, build or manage
  • Discover how they learn best
  • Pursue knowledge that interests them
  • Learn how to manage failures
  • Build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk
  • Develop practical skills
  • Understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle
  • Explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth
  • Regularly experience achievement and success
  • Reflect on learning and experiences
  • Develop their language and communication skills
  • Improve physical motor skills
  • Become more motivated
  • Improve their concentration skills
  • Explore the world through all the senses available to them

Curriculum Intent


(including Explorers and Seekers)

Development of gross and fine motor skills. Opportunities to develop pro-social behaviours and begin to attend and delay gratification. Immersion in a sensory environment that provides opportunities to be soothed or stimulated by a complete range of textures, patterns, sounds, aromas and structures at all scales from micro to macro. Exposure to a range of terrain and opportunities to interact with the environment through play, exploration and activities with maximum independence. Introduction to rules/boundaries/format of sessions. Introduction of basic real tools – hammers, mallets, trowels and forks. Safety procedures


Continued development of gross and fine motor skills and initial steps in the ability to follow basic instructions and master context-specific sequences. Opportunities to experience or work with some success with peers and follow instructions from staff. The opportunity to apply practical skills (tool use, woodland management, navigation, map making, etc.) to progressively more complex tasks that develop cognition and problem solving skills in a threat-free learning environment


KS 4

Experience and become involved in the natural cycles of the woodland. Actively plan, risk assess and carry out a range of woodland management tasks. The opportunity to develop tool, climbing, fire and navigation skills linked to shelter building, exploration and other projects and activities.


Cycle 1: Example of Subject Intent linked to Thematic Learning



Heroes that help us (History)

1 - Food webs

2 - Flowers, fruits and seeds

3 - The woodland cycle

Peer/ Self-assessment/ Targets


Complete assessment each half term block


Let there be light (Science)

1 - Plant growth cycles

2 – Habitats

3 – What happens in the dark


Feast for the Senses (Science) – Our Body Senses

1 - Adapting to the environment - animal and humans

2 - What can we see, feel, touch, etc

3 - How do living things survive - food, hot, cold, fire, etc


BEE Happy – Habitats /Physical health and mental well-being

1 - New life & new cycles

2 - Outside is where we thrive, why?

3 - Rituals, ceremonies and challenges


Food, glorious food (Geography)

1 - Plant or animal - how do they survive

2 - Foraging

3 - Native or invader - increasing diversity


You've got a friend in ME (History) - Sharing and working with others.

1 - Shelter building

2 - Woodland management

3 - Opening our woods to others

Cross-curricular Links

How does Forest School support this?

The wider Winchelsea curriculum (particularly SRE, Life Skills, My World, P.E.) can all find practical means of development and expression in the Forest School setting based on the principles laid out above and in the Winchelsea Forest School Handbook.

Forest School experiences are central to pupils gaining practical experience across time of seasonal change in the natural environment and how it affects materials, living things and the nature of pupils’ interactions with it and each other.

FS also provides a wealth of cross-curricular learning (following instructions, team working, safety, hygiene risk management and awareness) in an environment that demands pupils show maturity, focus and attention. This is ‘hands-on’ learning that promotes independence in practical, motivating, confidence-building lessons that pupils enjoy being part of. 




When the opportunity presents itself and is appropriate, the FS approach, setting & context blends well with STEAM learning (using science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking). As with STEAM, FS seeks to develop pupils who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process.

English Skills



Practical use and development of ability to follow verbal, visual and total communication cues.  Embedding of sequence and use of specific vocabulary linked to items that can be touched, climbed, compared, transformed in the imagination or placed in or out of context. Immersion and interaction in activities and scenarios that drive communication. Talk, turn taking or non-verbal communication may link directly to an activity, but it might also be entirely imaginary, tangential or derive from exploration, memory or recall of a shared experience.  Pupils, through FS routines, have regular opportunities to practice their speaking and listening skills.

Maths Skills



Number is used regularly as are the skills of sorting and organising.  Weights, measures, volumes and the language of approximation.  Endless practical, concrete understanding of concepts such as temperature, area, thick/thin, big/small, bigger/biggest, higher/lower, heavy/light, many/few etc. Help to understand object permanence.

SMSC and British Values



Working with others, sharing equipment, developing teamwork.  Following rules clearly set out.

Opportunities to be creative and share expertise and ideas. Being supportive. Increasing awareness of other’s needs, different cultures, personal likes and dislikes. Provides pupils with fundamental developmental experiences to nurture and celebrate our commonality and diversity; and an excellent bridge for building relationships and the pro-social skills and behaviours these rely on.

Nurturing and caring for the environment and peers and receiving nurture in return.


Promotes well-being and has very positive effects on mental health.

Extended Opportunities/ Celebration:

Environment Week and Art Week activities.




08 Sep 2021

Although we have begun the new year in a relatively 'normal' way, I thought I'd just update you about a few things related to Covid-19. Currently, we continue to follow all of the up to date national...

Transport -Monday 6th September

04 Sep 2021

Good morning everyone! I am aware of some transport issues for Monday. If you have received an email saying transport will not pick up your child or transport does not arrive on Monday, please call Re...

Covid Testing

12 Mar 2021

Dear Parent/Carer, Please find below a link to a letter containing information relating to COVID-19 home testing for pupils in Years 7 to 11. COVID_19_Testing_Letter_Pupils_in_Year_7_to_11_12.03.2021....


03 Feb 2021

Some additional support for you all! 1. If you are struggling to get food and other household essentials please contact: 0300 123 7052. The service is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. https:...

School Closure - Social Story

29 Jan 2021

I refer to our recent communication advising parents/carers that whole school remote online learning will continue until February half-term, with pupils returning to school and face to face provision...

Update - Continued Whole School Remote Learning

28 Jan 2021

Hi everyone, Hope you're all doing OK, I just wanted to send out an update on the situation at school, please see the attached letter: Letter_270121_Continued_Remote_Learning.pdf As you will...

Remote Learning Provision

28 Jan 2021

We hope your child has been accessing and enjoying the remote learning provision that has been in place, and a huge thank you to all parents, carers and family members who have supported your child to...

School Update

25 Jan 2021

Hi everyone, I hope you are all doing ok and you are keeping safe. I just wanted to update you about the situation in school. We have a significant number of staff and pupils have tested positive for...

Contacting School

22 Jan 2021

Hi everyone, While we are in a situation where pupils are accessing remote learning, rather than being on site, please see below for information about contacting school -  1. For general enquirie...

Urgent Update - Friday 22nd January 2021

22 Jan 2021

Hi everybody, An important update for you all -  We have now had 10 positive cases of Covid-19 amongst staff and 5 positive cases amongst pupils.  In addition, we have a large number of fami...