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Forest School principles

Six key principles to ensure quality Forest School for children from Early Years to Primary & Secondary schools and more.

The principles lay out the ethos and working practices of Forest School practitioners. They were agreed by the UK Forest School community in 2011.

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The six principles of Forest School


Principle 1

Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.


Principle 2

Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.


Principle 3

Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.


Principle 4

Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.


Principle 5

Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.


Principle 6

Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

Download a pdf of the 6 Forest School Principles

Ideal to print-off and pin on your noticeboard.

This version of the list appeared in our Forest School Focus - issue 3 of the Outdoor Practitioner - our free online magazine.

6 Forest School principles

pdf, 409.06 KB

Further reading

See also

Natural Play Principles

The Natural Play Principles* are designed to articulate a child-centred and nature-focused approach called Natural Play. Natural Play enables children’s natural ways of growing, learning and thriving with the help of the natural world.

* developed in collaboration between Jan White (Early Childhood Natural Play), Suzanne Scott (Sandfield Natural Play Centre), Ann Thompson (Naturally Creative and Sandfield Natural Play Centre) and Menna Godfrey (Quackers Playgroup & Natural Play Centre).

Read More about Natural Play Principles

Child led play

At Muddy Faces we feel it is vitally important to consider a child-led approach when making activities available to your groups.

We asked Jan White, internationally-recognised consultant and speaker for outdoor provision in the early years, to explain.

Read More about Child led play

What is Forest School?

Forest School is an innovative approach to outdoor play & learning for Early Years, Primary & Secondary school pupils and more. It is child-led regular time outdoors.

The Forest School movement is growing in the UK and internationally, and the evidence for its' benefits to children and adults is well documented.

Read More about What is Forest School?
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