Forest School is shown to have gains in the following:

Social skills
Language and Communication
Motivation and concentration
Physical skills
Knowledge and understanding
(Maynard, 2003; Murray and O‟Brien, 2005; O‟Brien and Murray, 2007; Davis et al. 2006)

These seem like amazing factors to be claimed. Yet there is something significant about being in the natural environment, where pupils can reconnect, and where cortisol levels immediately reduce blood pressure and increase calmness. Learning is led and initiated, where possible, by the young people involved, and are able to meet a variety of learning styles. Staff are seen as learning alongside pupils and the process of learning is as significant as the product. Play is a significant part of projects and the style of delivery is well suited for the way many boys learn. Time and space is a significant element of Forest Schools and a “flow state” is ideally sought, where participants become so engrossed in their play or activities that they lose all sense of time.

Forest School in England and Wales and its impact on young children

An Evaluation of Forest School in England

Forest School Evaluation Project – A Study in Wales

“being outdoors contributes to higher levels of wellbeing– bringing physiological benefits such as stress reduction”

Children in the Outdoors – A Literature Review (Muñoz 2009)

More specifically, a recent study looked at the effects of long term forests school programmes on the resilience, confidence and wellbeing of children and “established that long term Forest Schools programmes had positive impacts on children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing”, showing improvement in key indicators on “self efficacy, persistence, and problem solving skills”, “marked propensity to take risks, heightened levels of self belief, positive attitude, independence and increased tendency of taking initiative” and “positive impacts on children’s physical and mental health in addition to improving their social and cognitive competence. The study found that promoting wellbeing in children enhances their confidence and resilience.”

-Impacts of Long Term Forest School Programmes on Children’s Resilience, Confidence and Wellbeing – Sarah Blackwell

The benefits of general forest school activities are;

  1. Confidence
    This was characterised by self-confidence and self-belief that came from the children having the freedom, time and space, to learn, grown and demonstrate independence.
  2. Social skills
    The children demonstrated an increased awareness of the consequences of their actions on other people, peers and adults, and acquired a better ability to work co-operatively with others.
  3. Language and communication
    The children developed more sophisticated uses of both written and spoken language prompted by their visual and sensory experiences at Forest School.
  4. Motivation and concentration
    This was characterised by a keenness to participate in exploratory learning and play activities as well as the ability to focus on specific tasks for extended periods of time.
  5. Physical skills
    The children developed physical stamina and their gross motor skills through free and easy movement round the Forest School site. They developed fine motor skills by making objects and structures.
  6. Knowledge and understanding
    Increased respect for the environment was developed as well as an interest in their natural surroundings. Observational improvements were noted as the children started to identify flora and fauna.
  7. New perspectives
    The teachers and practitioners gained a new perspective and understanding of the children as they observed them in a very different setting and were able to identify their individual learning styles.
  8. Ripple effects beyond Forest School
    The children brought their experience home and asked their parents to take them outdoors at the weekend or in the school holidays. Parent’s interest and attitude towards Forest School changed as they saw the impacts on their children.

Source: Report – An Evaluation of Forest School in England – Murray & O’Brien 2006

Benefits of being outside in a natural environment;

  1. Stress relief
    Being outside in a natural environment has been shown to relieve stress by reducing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain.  Children are increasingly assaulted by stressful environments (media, increasing emphasis on targets and testing, screen time, ever busier urban environments), being out in the woods gives them a much needed time to relax, enjoy themselves and have some stress free time.
  2. Connection to nature
    Children are increasingly being kept indoors because of the understandable problems of traffic and concerns over safety while being unsupervised.  As a result some are missing out on the opportunity to get out and connect with nature on a personal level.  Forest school gives them the time and opportunity to do that.  Connecting with nature will allow our future generations understand and value the natural world.


Benefits of using tools and fire;

Children will be introduced to tools and fire in a controlled and progressive way so that they learn about managing risk for themselves.  They will learn to ensure the safety of both themselves and for others by learning simple safety procedures under the close supervision of the forest school leader.  They will benefit from improved fine and gross motor skills, confidence from achieving something from using tools, communication skills, teamwork, coordination and designing and planning skills.

Value Added Benefits

  • Rich supply of resources and materials for use in other curriculum areas.
  • Opportunities to involve parents and wider community
  • Chance for staff to observe students in a different setting.
  • Opportunities for staff to learn new skills, and enjoy the benefits of FS too!
  • Offers an alternative to our over reliance on digital and electronic sources for recreation, learning, socialising
  • Offers an opportunity to become fitter and healthier.
  • Participants learn to recognise and assess risks for themselves.

Source: Report – An Evaluation of Forest School in England – Murray & O’Brien 2006



What is Forest School?

Forest School and the Curriculum

Forest School Clothing, Health and Safety

Helping at Forest School