Anna Thompson, Education and Learning Manager

Many people with primary aged children or grandchildren will be familiar with the phrase 'Forest School'. But did you know that it is also a great way to encourage older children to engage with the outdoors?

Forest School originated in the UK in 1993 when staff from Bridgewater College visited Denmark to observe early years practice. On their return, they implemented a Forest School approach in their early years settings. Since then it has spread across the country and its benefits have been recognised across all age groups. 

Here at Nene Park we offer both Curriculum Based Outdoor Learning and Forest School. Although both may involve similar activities, the focus behind the delivery is very different. As the name suggests, Curriculum Based Outdoor Learning is all about taking the curriculum out of the classroom and into nature. Students cover the requirements of the National Curriculum through outdoor activities, rather than through a traditional classroom based approach. Forest school is a bit different. Rather than focussing on delivery of the curriculum, Forest School is all about the development of the learner. By providing opportunities for children to explore their own interests, Forest School supports a child-led approach to holistic development. 

Here at Nene Park, our education team have been delivering Forest School for over 7 years and have led sessions for children from early years up to mid-teens. We would love to see all young people in Peterborough have the opportunity to take part in Forest School, but we have a problem…there aren’t enough of us! That's why we have recently taken the step to start offering Forest School training, so that teachers and others who work with young people can become Forest School leaders and deliver sessions in their own spaces! 

On 20th September our first cohort of learners started their Forest School journey, with six days of training at the Forest School site in Ferry Meadows. Trainees came from a wide range of backgrounds, including nursery, primary, secondary and SEN. The weather was not always on our side, but we had a great few days with lots of laughs and plenty of sausages cooked on the fire! The trainees will return in November to complete their skills assessment, and then they will be able to start running their own sessions!

If Forest School sounds like something you would like to get involved in, we are already taking bookings for training courses in September 2024 (our March course has already sold out!). If curriculum delivery is more your thing, we can also offer a level 2 training course in Curriculum Based Outdoor Learning, so why not get in touch to discuss which would be best for you?!

Contact [email protected] to speak to a member of the team.