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RESEARCH: Benefits of Forest School

Wednesday, 17 April 2019
Sarah Keogh, Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service

A research project conducted by Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service highlights the health and wellbeing benefits of Forest School programmes. Supported by Derbyshire Public Health over the past two years, 48 people from across Derbyshire have trained to become Forest School Leaders. Trainees represent a wide range of schools, nurseries, community groups and youth leaders working with a range of young people some whom are most vulnerable.

Working with Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service, 32 trainees gathered evidence to assess the impact of Forest School on physical activity, wellbeing and connection to nature. Having delivered their first short Forest School programmes trainees reported significant positive impacts within their groups behaviour in areas including:  

  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased engagement
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased problem solving and teamwork skills.

Comments from trainees about the impact of introducing Forest School programmes:

 'It is the best thing the school has implemented without doubt and the impact on the children is already quite substantial.' 

 'I think all children should be able to access forest schools; it teaches teamwork, independence, a love and respect for the outdoors, creativity, perseverance, survival skills, first-aid skills and so much more. It is so important for the children we teach today; the iPad, Xbox and internet generation are desperate for this knowledge.' 

'It is fabulous to see how excited the whole school is about forest school; I have children from other year groups help get the younger children ready and the group are waved off every week to cries of ‘Have a great time’. Every child in school is aware they will get their turn and it is wonderful to watch their faces when they get their letter inviting them to forest school.'    

The data gathered clearly indicates that Forest School provides an opportunity to deliver on all of the government's Five ways to mental wellbeing:

Connect - with the natural world and each other

Be active - in the outdoors regularly and repeatedly in a different way

Take notice - of each other, the changing seasons, our own growth and development, the natural world

Keep learning - about each other and the natural world, learning new skills

Give – time and attention to each other as well as giving something back to the natural spaces used through caring, planting, managing and understanding them. 

To read the full report click here 

For more information about Derbyshire Forest Schools click here 

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