Forest School

What is Forest School?

Forest School or Nature Nursery as they are known in Scandinavia has been a part of early year’s education since the 1950’s. The idea behind this philosophy is to engage children in the natural world and for them to take responsibility for conservation later in life. Greenwich started pilot sessions in 2006 and Deansfield were lucky to be one of the first schools in Greenwich to run a Forest School.

The ethos of Forest School allows children the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences.


Where do our children go?

Nursery  visit our on-site Forest School which is situated behind our dinner hall. Reception, Years One and Two visit a site situated in Oxleas Woods that has been risk assessed and safety checked by the Forest School leaders and the Park Rangers. We visit the same site every week so that the children can see the changes throughout the seasons.

What do the children do?

Our Forest School routine is the same every week; going to the toilet, putting on our waterproof trousers and wellies, getting our coats, (if needed), lining up and helping to count. Doing the same thing every week allows the children to feel safe and take ownership of the session, they know exactly what is coming next and there are no surprises. We take the same walk noticing changes in our environment from week to week. We go in all weathers (unless weather conditions are dangerous). The child led ethos of Forest School means that once on the site the children can choose what to do from planned activities set up by the Forest School leader.


These may include:
Re-enacting our favourite stories
Map making
Natural pictures on the ground
Hunting for mini beasts
Den building
Mud painting
Sharing a drink and a snack
Using our senses to explore

Sessions are planned each week around the needs of the child. Activities are revisited weekly so that the children can access them at their own pace. Our forest School leaders are qualified through nationally recognised and accredited training.


What benefits do our children gain from going to Forest School?

Forest School supports the holistic development of the child:

  • Health and fitness – being active in an outdoor, natural environment
  • Increased emotional wellbeing – There is research available supporting this.
  • Social development – Communicating, and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences.
  • Gaining knowledge and understanding – Multi sensory, real-life learning.
  • Individuals learning – Children learning at their own pace and following their own interests.

Curriculum links – Forest School supports many areas of the National Curriculum and planning for lessons is linked to whatever is being taught in the indoor classroom.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of all participants is central to everything done within a Forest School programme. Forest School leaders are fully trained in risk assessment and emergency outdoor first aid. Every Forest School will have; a Health and Safety policy; a daily risked assessed site; trained adult helpers; first aid and emergency equipment. Children are encouraged to risk assess their Forest School through real life situations and experiences; moving through or round, in and out of natural obstacles. All children are expected to follow Forest School rules and adhere to boundaries set by the Forest School leader.


"This is the best kind of classroom,
It’s a journey through time and space,
From the smallest seed to the largest tree,
This is a Forest and a learning place.

 This is the best kind of classroom,
Where the seasons don’t happen in books.
Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking
And everyone notices, everyone looks.”

  From ‘The best kind of classroom’ by Ian MacMillan











Forest School display link