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How does Forest School work?

Many people have asked me what Forest School actually is. Forest School promotes holistic learning for everyone and is based on seven key principles. These are:

  • It is embedded in a regular curriculum.
  • Occurs in a natural environment.
  • Promotes holistic growth.
  • Offers risk-taking opportunities.
  • Run by a qualified Forest School leader.
  • Led by the interests of the learner and promotes fellowship.
  • Aims to provide a fun, natural environment where children can develop in a holistic way: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially, physically and communicatively.


How does this work?


Forest School connects humans to nature and the wider planet. Natural cycles present moments of wonder and even Urban Forest Schools can be peaceful, calming the mind away from screens or daily issues, giving balance. Outdoor experiences present children with opportunities to deepen their understanding of the circle of life.


Forest School learners are encouraged to regularly reflect on themselves and learning experiences. This, in turn, translates into a deeper awareness of feelings and cultivates a broader sense of self. Forest School participants deal with challenges, displaying perseverance, through both success and failure. They learn vocabulary to express their sentiments and share these with others which cultivates resilience, empathy and sympathy skills.


Forest School attendees grow their conversation by leading their own learning, direction and interests. They Work collaboratively using verbal and non-verbal contact, and regular reflection encourages talking about emotion. These group projects inspire following and giving instructions.

Intellectual development

Learning new skills promotes new neural pathways in the brain. Natural environments stimulate us in fortuitous ways as natural resources need imagination and creativity to bring them to life. Nature encourages problem solving: children are faced with exploring structural challenges during den building activities, they are forced to consider the effect of the changing seasons on outdoor learning and they examine how the ever-changing environment creates its own challenges and need for unique skills.Social development

Forest School encourages independence as well as collaborative exploration, teamwork and opportunities to connect through talk, game play and child-led decision making. It all rests on use of communication skills to progress.


Forest School activity expands body strength and physique, coordination and balance: climbing trees, navigating natural terrain, using new tools and equipment enhances gross and fine motor muscles, and each child’s physicality is challenged during Forest School problem solving.

The introduction of Forest School at Devonshire House School from September 2023 is an exciting, fresh and forward-thinking step to support young learners in a way which will have a positive impact on their mental health, connect them to nature and support their learning journey.

Devonshire House is part of the Dukes Education family.