Forest School Leaders at Merritts Brook Academy

Mr Aleksadner Demski (Reception Class Teacher)

Miss Elizabeth Parkes (Learning Support Assistant)

Mrs KayMarie Rudge (DSL, Pastoral Lead, SENCO)

Forest School OCN Level 3 in Forest School leadership and First Aid

Forest School is an inspirational educational ethos that focuses on developing children’s personal, social and emotional development through regular outdoor woodland experiences. The Forest School programme provides all learners with opportunities to achieve and through hands- on learning experiences in a natural or woodland environment, the opportunity to develop self- esteem and confidence. The aims of Forest School are set out by the Forest School Association and aim to ensure that all participants are:

  •  Viewed as equal, unique and valuable
  •  Able to experience appropriate risk and challenge
  •  Able to develop positive relationships with themselves and others and the natural world
  •  Able to develop competency to explore and discover
  •  Experience regular success
  •  Choosing and initiating their own learning and development.

At Merritts Brook Academy the focus of Forest School is to provide an enriched and extended learning experience to our pupils outside of the classroom. The school recognises the importance of ensuring pupils develop the key skills required to be successful learners and citizens. In line with our school aims and learning goals, Forest School enables our pupils to develop self –esteem and confidence; the skill of working and learning both collaboratively and independently whilst also ensuring pupils’ develop an element of risk taking and self-confidence, all of which can be transferred to the wider learning environment. Forest School provides pupils with practical learning experience in a fun and enjoyable environment that supports pupils’ in developing a positive attitude towards the natural environment and their learning.

At Forest School the learners are all seen as equal, unique and valuable, which here at Merritts Brook  is central to our ethos too.

Forest School promotes child-initiated learning at its best. It creates a world where children are believed to be competent to choose and drive their own learning and development at a pace which is appropriate and meaningful to them. They are freely able to explore and discover whilst learning how to manage appropriate risk and challenge which is vital in their decision-making. The adults are there to support the children, guide if asked, look out for dangers and most importantly celebrate the learning taking place.

It creates a positive atmosphere of support where the children learn to become independent in their physical skills and mental thought processes. They learn to trust their own ideas, believe in their capabilities and recognise their own needs. They understand that support comes from trusted adults and friends alike as they are nurtured to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people. Everyone is equal. It is a safe place where they can be themselves or lose themselves and leave day to day stresses behind.

Central to all of this is the environment. Children experience the seasons, the wonders of nature, the highs, the lows, life and death. This enables them to build a strong, positive relationship with their natural world helping them to make sense of the wider world.


Forest School is a unique method of outdoor learning. At Merritts Brook Academy
our aim is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences.
Children will have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to
handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and
co-operate with others. The children use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of
behaviour; both physical and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem
and become self-motivated.


We aim to give all children a collective insight into the ethos of Forest School.
Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning,
offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning
for themselves.
The Forest school learning environment provides opportunities for children to
develop self-esteem, self-confidence, to form positive relationships with others, to
develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others, to
learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and to develop strategies
in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety.

One of the principles of Forest School is to promote environmental awareness and
encourage sustainability. The children are taught about respect and responsibility
for the world around them. Both the children and adults are encouraged to respect
their environment and to be aware of conservation issues of the wild area around

Encouraging children to care for the environment is an essential part of Forest
School. In order to encourage the children to look after the site we will always
leave it tidy and never damage anything growing in it. We will only collect things
that are on the ground and leave the area as we found it when we leave. The Forest
School Leader will monitor the site so that it does not become overused.


The success of forest school allows the children to:
Grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in
their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual
child’s rate.
Activities such as sharing tools and participating in play help teach the children to
work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social skills.

The sensory experiences provided by Forest School helps prompt language
development. Improving communication skills has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem and is a crucial part of their development.
High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention. Spending time in the
woodland is exciting for a child. It tends to fascinate them which develops a strong
will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time.
The increase in outdoor activity has a positive physical impact. Not only does the
development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills.
Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the
environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world
will help in protecting the environment for generations to come.
Forest School isn’t just beneficial to children it is also beneficial to teachers.
Observing their class in a different setting allows them to gain a new perspective
and understanding of their class.
When children really engage with Forest Schools they will take their experiences
home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit
their local woodlands more frequently.
Taking children outside of the classroom removes the pressures of academia and
allows them to play to their strengths. This is beneficial to children who struggle in
the classroom because there is more of an opportunity for them to learn at their
own pace.

Our Forest School Handbook: 

Merritts Brook Forest School Handbook

Risk Assessments:

Forest School Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Bill Hook Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Cooking On Fire Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Fire Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Fire Striker Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Gardening Tools Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Hand and Palm Drills Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Kelly Kettle Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Knives and Peelers Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Mallet Risk Assessment

Forest School Tools Saw Risk Assessment

Some photos from our latest Forest School Lessons:







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