The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their ability to arouse, explore and develop curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children’s right to play and access the outdoors (an in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through social interaction and creative engagement with their peers.
Forest School is based more on the process of learning than it is on the content - more on the ‘how’ than the ‘what’. This means that genuine Forest School practice steps boldly out of the shadow and limitation of ‘planned activities’ and ventures collaboratively into the realms of the unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited. Children and young people are given encouragement to direct their own learning-this often requires facilitating on the part of the Forest School leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through ‘scaffolding’ a child’s learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors.
A woodland environment is central in supporting this very dynamic approach to learning, from the changing of the seasons, to the observation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an endless source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes.
The philosophy of Forest Schools is to inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences and provide them an opportunity to appreciate the wider, natural world to encourage a responsibility for nature conservation in later life.