Forest School

Forest School is a long term developmental programme that takes place on a regular basis, typically once a week, for a minimum of 6 sessions, but usually longer. To lead a Forest School programme it is necessary to be a Level 3 certificated and qualified Forest School practitioner, and hold a current and appropriate Outdoor First Aid qualification.

Need further information on Forest School? Check the drop-down list under the arrow to the left!

Forest School takes place in a range of situations across the UK. In Scotland and Wales it is part of the broader aims of Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland (previously known as the Forest Education Initiative or FEI).

The Forest School leaflet describes the special features of Forest School within the Scottish context.

Is Forest School the right choice for me?

Forest School can support many aspects of the curriculum including Health outcomes, and can make a real difference to all involved.

I knew Forest Schools was a good concept before I trained, however I did not realise just how exceptional the benefits to the individual children would be“; (a comment by trainee L3 Forest School practitioner, Scotland).

However, training for a Forest School qualification, particularly at Level 3, is a big commitment.

Remember, there are lots of ways to support outdoor learning, many of which require no special qualification – just enthusiasm! Your local OWL group may offer skills sharing and training opportunities. There is also a guidance document  plus a short introduction which explores the range of woodland learning options outdoors, and associated training. This may help you to decide whether Forest School is for you.

Why Forest School?

Across Scotland, the Forest Education Initiative has played a major role in supporting the growth and development of Forest School. This is continued within OWL Scotland’s wider aims to support outdoor and woodland learning.

Membership of your local OWL group will help you to access resources, as well as local networks and expertise.

Good practice would include:

  • Use of a local outdoor or woodland setting which links to the learner's local community
  • Leaders that hold the appropriate Disclosure/ PVG check, are L3 Forest School qualified with an up to date and appropriate First Aid qualification
  • Sustainable use and management of the woodland site used for Forest School
  • Benefit-risk assessments of the Forest School site and activities – both written and dynamic
  • An up-to-date Health & Safety manual including guidelines on child protection, emergency procedures, risk assessment and equipment
  • On-going evaluation of learning and personal development of all those involved in Forest School
  • Commitment to external reviews and sharing of good practice within the network

All of the above should be covered by the recognised Forest School training course.