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Forest School

About Forest School

Forest School first began in Scandinavia in the 1950’s as a means of helping children to learn about the natural world through stories, songs and practical experiences in an outdoor classroom. It’s value in building confidence, self-esteem and independence was quickly recognised and forest school soon spread.

Forest School encourages children to take a chance, to explore risk and to take the time to stop and reflect on their experiences, asking questions and making sense of their own thoughts and feelings in the natural world. Children gain a valuable lesson in healthy, active lifestyles through a child led approach, developing holistically, physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in a safe, stimulating, positive and natural environment.

Forest School provides a child centred approach to learning and an opportunity for children to develop their love and understanding of the natural world. At Hartford Infant School our school site is used for weekly sessions, and clear boundaries and agreements are established with the children.

See our Forest School Policy.

Our Forest School Site

At Hartford Infant School we share a large playing field and several playgrounds with the Junior School and the usage is clearly timetabled to allow each school maximum use of the areas. Over recent years we have worked hard to develop the outdoor area, and now flower beds and planters create a wildlife haven for our children (and many insects/small creatures) to enjoy as well as a forest school area.

We have developed a small Forest School area with a log circle and an establishing fire pit. As part of this area we have a number of different British trees, including one that is perfect for low level climbing for our infant children. We have created a digging area as well as a bug hotel in which to explore minibeasts and have several good spots for den building. Our site is checked daily for risks and is looked after by our forest school leaders to ensure sustainability.

Aims of Forest School at Hartford Infant School

  • To provide children with unique experiences that encourages an appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the natural environment.
  • To learn to respect and to care for their own local environment.
  • To develop children’s self-esteem and self-confidence through the setting of small achievable tasks in a safe, stimulating and positive environment.
  • To develop levels of confidence, independence, resilience and perseverance enabling children to achieve challenges set and to become committed and reflective learners.
  • To promote real life learning and a development of life skills, where risk taking is facilitated and promoted in a controlled and purposeful environment.
  • To provide a holistic and child centred environment in which children are encouraged to set their own pace and challenges, learning in the style that suits them best.
  • To abide by rules (agreements) and set standards of behaviour.
  • To work individually and cooperatively in groups, developing a mutual respect for each other. This is line with our Hartford Heroes.

Health and Safety

In Forest School children learn life skills of assessing and managing their own risks and clear boundaries and agreements (rules) are established with the children. Risk Assessments are carried out before each forest school session by the Forest School Leaders and teaching staff.

See our Forest School Risk Assessment.

Forest School Sessions

Mrs Eagle will be leading a Forest School programme for all the children, alongside class teachers, teaching assistants and regular volunteers, each week. Sessions will run all year round and in all weathers (except in extreme circumstances) and include focused, planned activities that children are encouraged to participate in with the support of an adult, as well as child initiated activities using natural resources to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation. These are activities are mapped out in our Forest School Medium Term Plans. Forest School is responsive to the children's needs and interests and therefore teachers regularly adapt planning.

Activities may include den and shelter building, whittling using potato peelers, drilling with palm drills, tree climbing, fires, exploring flora and fauna, natural collections, sawing wood to make badges, creating mud characters and pictures using natural paints as well as songs, stories and team games!


To ensure that the children gain the best experience from Forest School sessions, appropriate clothing must be worn. We provide every child with an all-in-one waterproof suit to wear over their usual school uniform. We suggest that all children wear school trousers on Forest School days, if possible, as they are more comfortable than skirts or dresses when worn with the all-in-one suits. In addition to this, your child will need:

  • welly boots
  • warm clothing – layers are particularly good in colder weather
  • hats – for both sunny and cold weather


See our Forest School Information Leaflet for Parents and Carers.

We often share photos of these exciting sessions on the school Facebook page and on Tapestry.

Bringing out the Best in Everyone