What is Forest School?

An inspirational process that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland setting


Forest School has been a key part of Scandinavian Early Years education since the 1950’s, and was introduced in the UK in the mid-1990’s. The ACE Centre is proud to have been actively involved in developing and disseminating Forest School provision since the pilot scheme in Oxfordshire in 2000 and we have been offering this experience to our children ever since.

“The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky”
Margaret McMillan

Why offer Forest School?

Many children today do not enjoy the opportunity to play in a ‘wild’ natural woodland environment. Forest School offers this experience in a risk assessed and carefully managed way, with experienced staff who are skilled at offering children a sense of freedom and independence, whilst supporting their learning and development. Forest School allows children the time and space to explore and learn at their own pace. There are clear Forest School boundaries and rules and children are encouraged to make their own choices and to become independent thinkers.

Research and our own experience shows that the benefits of Forest School are many, including:

  • Increased independence, confidence and self esteem
  • Development of social skills in a more challenging environment
  • Development of language and communication skills
  • Improvement of physical motor skills
  • Positive attitudes to learning – high levels of concentration and motivation

What is involved?

We aim to offer Forest School to each child in Nursery School during their time with us. The children travel in our minibus (fitted with child seatbelts) with a member of the Nursery School staff, a trained Forest School leader and a parent helper.

They spend their session at our Forest School site, a private woodland, where they access all parts of the EYFS curriculum, through their experiences in this natural setting.

What does Ofsted say about the ACE Centre’s Forest School?

“.. children experience the freedom and enjoyment of playing and learning in a completely natural setting in nearby woods. This experience enhances the use of all their senses and imagination. As one child remarked as the rain started to fall, ‘The rain makes stars on the paper. It could be night time.'”