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Forest School

Murray and O’Brian (2006) define Forest School as; “An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland environment”


Forest School can take place in any area where there is nature, no matter how big or small. Even the smallest outside space can seem vast and intriguing through a child’s eyes and can provide space for children to explore and connect with nature. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful area where we have different sites to choose from.

Forest School at Walton-on-the-Hill Primary is provided by Mrs. Whitton (Cygnets and Swans teacher and Level 3 Forest School Leader) delivering a variety of FS sessions to all year groups.

  • Cygnets have three or four FS sessions per term.
  • Y1-Y6 have six FS sessions spread out over the school year (one per half term per year group).


We promote FS principles by encouraging Outdoor and Active Learning, Nurture Schools and recognizing the importance of Child Initiated/Led Learning and Development.


Forest School at Walton on the Hill Primary School supports all areas of the EYFS in a fun, environmentally friendly way!


We recognise the importance of Forest School in many different ways:


  • Personal, Social, Emotional Development – sharing resources, helping each other, problem solving, increasing independence, self-esteem, self-confidence and promoting positive behaviours
  • Physical Development – moving in variety of ways, using space, un-even terrain, tree climbing, balancing, fine/gross motor control, self-care
  • Communication and Language – developing social skills by speaking, listening and understanding in meaningful situations and activities
  • Literacy – retelling stories, using sticks to write in the mud, labeling trees
  • Mathematics – counting, measuring sticks (stick rules), spatial vocabulary and awareness, shapes, sorting, ordering…
  • Understanding the world – environmental awareness beyond EYFS expectations
  • Expressive Arts and Design – role play, sculpture, weaving, malleable materials, collage, music
  • And so much more…!


“Children want space at all ages. Space, that is ample space, is almost as much wanted as food and air. To move, to run, to find things out by new movement, to feel one’s life in every limb, that is the life of early childhood” Margaret McMillian (1930)


Forest School can be used as backdrop for curriculum based learning and experiences:


  • Cygnets (Reception): Senses, Keeping Healthy, Owl Babies, Goldilocks, The Gruffalo, We’re going on a Bear Hunt, The Three Little Pigs, Spring Watch, Ugly Duckling, Living Eggs project, Dinosaurs, Ponds, Minibeasts…
  • Swans (Year 1):  Senses, Weather, Castles, Growth
  • Year 2: Fireworks and fire safety, Trees, environmental comparisons – Africa, sea sides
  • Year 3: Light & Shadows, Road Safety (The Hodgeheg), Regional studies (WotH compared to __), Life Cycles, Rocks & Minerals, Plants, Orienteering, Forces
  • Year 4: Locations, The Tunnel, Dreamtime stories and art, Water Cycle, Living things and Habitats, Orienteering, Environment
  • Year 5: Locations, Kandinsky, Storytelling, Life Cycles, Water, Orienteering
  • Year 6: Harry Potter – Forbidden forest suspense story, WW1 - letters from the trenches, Chaperon Rouge – puppet show and stop frame animations in woods, Rainforests, support for SATs prep…

A typical Forest School session involves:

  • checking everyone has the correct FS clothing to be safe and comfortable whatever the weather,
  • walking along to our FS sites,
  • Circle of Safety where the children remind each other how to stay safe and have fun,
  • deciding on appropriate boundaries,
  • activities such as cooking over a fire, hunting for insects, den building…
  • gathering together to share difficulties, solutions, successes, Wows, opinions,
  • walking back to school, changing out of our muddy wellies and waterproofs and washing our hands before lunch.

Our Forest School Locations