What is 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.

Forest School Association

“Quality Forest School for All”

On 7th July 2012, the Forest School Association (FSA) was launched at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire as the new professional association for Forest School and the governing body for training.

A good place to start if you are new to forest school is to visit the Forest School Association website. They have an in-depth website full of forest school information including sections on what is a forest school?  Myth-busting, history of forest school, good practice quidelines, and information on qualifications.

Principles and criteria for good practice

The Forest School ethos has six principles, which were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011. For more information please visit the forest school association page What is Forest School?

  • 1. Long Term

    Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

  • 2. Natural wooded environment

    Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

  • 3. Holistic development

    Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

  • 4. Supported Risk

    Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

  • 5. Qualified practioners

    Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

  • 6. Learner-centered processes

    Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

Raising awareness

One of Forest School Day objectives is to raise awareness of the forest school ethos, values and best practice. We will do this by showcasing forest school in real-life forest schools stories from across the UK. Find inspiration here on our Your forest school story  page.