How to Start a Forest School



Helpful hints and starter information to help you start a forest school

First of all –find out about the Forest School ethos and how it can appeal to a larger audience. The ethos of Forest School very much follows the child led approach to learning –the idea being that if a child shows an interest in a subject then they are more likely to pay more attention and want to learn more.

The ethos follows a holistic approach to the child’s education following an acronym SPICES (listed below) which allows for more areas of development in the child;

S –Social – being outside with a group and learning how to problem solve, understand social circles and all about the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.

P – Physical – this area focusses on both gross and fine motor skills, the core fitness and ability and coordination.

I – Intellectual – problem solving, seeing and understanding new ideas, flora and fauna and methods of work.

C – Communication – both verbal and non-verbal communication and how to explain yourself to others.

E – Emotional – being able to learn from your mistakes and actions as a whole, working with others and feeling happy or content with what you’ve achieved.

S – Spiritual – this covers the whole concept and wraps it all together in the outdoor environment –the spiritual act of sharing a fire on a cold day or sharing food cooked on the open fire as an example.

Find an area to use

You may have to gain the landowner’s permission for this –go and speak to them and explain what you would like to do on their ground. Large landowners such as Forestry England are more than happy to engage with potential businesses on their land –it helps them by getting footfall on the area plus extra eyes to find out more about that particular woodland.

Once you’ve found an area then find out about it –who uses it and why, what sort of flora and fauna do you have living and growing there. What are the car parking, toileting or eating and drinking establishments nearby that you could use. It would be useful to think about your effecton the woodland and how you can reduce the negative impact on it by providing valuable and careful woodland management of it.

Get yourself qualified

You wouldn’t trust your children to go with any stranger that you didn’t know so it is clear that you need some kind of training to do this job. Look at our levels of training and find out what is the best level for you. If you are going to deliver sessions and programmes then ensure that you have First Aid Training, Safeguarding and a food hygiene certificate to prove your competency.

Get yourself insured

You’ll need to have Pubic Liability if you are self-employed. Check with your school if you are employed in an educational establishment that you will be covered to deliver sessions that include sharptools and fire once you’re qualified.

Paperwork –this will include your certificates, policies and procedures and briefings or handouts that will sell your business to others. This will take time but you can always update as you go.

Advertising your sessions

Social media is huge and can be really useful at getting the message out to others regarding what you’re doing and why. Open up social media accounts in the name of your business so that you can promote as you go –there are always new methods of communication to use alongside meetings, word of mouth and personal recommendations.

Start off small –don’t expect to be a worldwide company straight away –Little Acorns Forest Schools Ltd started off delivering sessions using the boot of the car as an office and writing down and keeping phone numbers and contact details.

And finally

be happy in your work –we are very privileged to be able to work outdoors and have a real chance to change lives through a different angle on education!