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Hampton Dene Primary School

One School, Cherishing All


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The Background of Forest School

The Background


In the 19th century outdoor learning became popular amongst many educators; the learning style highlighted the many positives of being outside, later helping to form Forest School. Educators, naturalists and philosophers in the UK and Europe lay the foundations for Forest School originally. In 1995 Bridgewater College sent a group of Nursery Nurse students to Denmark to witness the vast wealth of benefits Forest School could offer to the children in their care.  On returning to the UK the group began to incorporate their experiences within their own setting, developing a site in which they could deliver the Forest School sessions. They received a prestigious award for their pioneering work. Consequently the concept has been shared all over the country, with many authorities offering educational settings funding to support the development and implementation of Forest School.  It is reported that numerous settings supported the Forest School approach, throughout Wales and in various other local authorities in England.  In 2002 a network of practitioners held a national conference in which the UKs definition of Forest School was formulated as follows, Forest Schools is ‘an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence, self-esteem through hands on learning experience in a local woodland environment’.



Forest School leadership courses began to take place in 2000 in Wales. In 2011 the definition, principles and criteria were reviews and built upon during the consultation for the establishment of the Forest School Association (FSA), the main national network supporting Forest School practitioners nationally. This association continues to grow and improve with the increasing numbers of practitioners promoting its benefits. Locally in Herefordshire the first setting to encompass the Forest School approach was Ashperton Primary School in 2003. As previously mentioned some training for Forest School was funded by local authorities, this was apparent in some cases in Herefordshire. Most training sessions took place at Madley Primary School and it was noted that Hereford Local Authority supported the Forest School approach and it benefits to children and young people.