FS research & reports
We've gathered together work by academics & professionals looking into the quantitative and qualitative benefits of Forest School.
These reports & research are, as much as possible, arranged in chronological order, most recent at the top
Breeze Forest School for Wellbeing
Using the FS approach to improve the emotional wellbeing of children & young people – working with two specialist schools with young people currently unable to participate in mainstream education due to extreme anxiety and/or behavioural and emotional difficulties.
Scotswood Natural Community Garden (SNCG), c2018
Nest in the Woods: Forest School research
Great summary of recent research into the range of benefits of Forest School and being outdoors, with references and links.
Nest in the Woods.
Study reveals how Forest Schools can benefit children’s development
Forest Schools are a growing phenomenon in the UK, but what impact does getting children outside of the classroom have on their overall development? Short video and written summary of educational outreach work undertaken by Loughborough University. 18 October 2017
Well-being in the Woods (pdf)
Excellent report from Jon Cree – it summarises the Forest School Association 2017 conference, but also asks the question ‘What does Forest School have to contribute to health and well-being?’ and considers Jules Pretty’s three types of engagement to increase regular attentiveness and immersion – Nature engagement; Social engagement; and Craft engagement.
Outdoor learning spaces: the case of forest school
“The research shows that the outdoor space provides new opportunities for children and teachers to interact and learn, and revealed how forest school leaders and children co-create a learning environment in which the boundaries between classroom and outdoor learning, teacher and pupil, are renegotiated to stimulate teaching and learning.”
Frances Harris, Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, 10 May 2017
Nature Preschools & Forest Kindergartens: 2017 National Survey
Full report of the ‘national survey of nature-based early childhood educators. More than 250 nature programs … serve approximately 10,000 children every year … However, the survey also suggests that the programs do not reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of our nation.’
Natural Start Alliance (US), 2017
Forest Research: children & young people’s engagement with nature
Exploring how children & young people experience nature, including trees & woodlands, & how this can potentially lead to a wide range of health, wellbeing & learning benefits.
Forest Research, started 2005, ongoing
A critique of Forest School: Something lost in translation
This critique is written in the spirit of engaging in robust discussion and debate around Forest School in order to see the difficulties addressed and the positive contributions continue. Sections include • Forest School as a social construction • Forest School pedagogy • The commodification of Forest School • The positive aspects of Forest School.
Mark Leather, University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth, September 2016
Impacts of Long Term Forest School Programmes on Children’s Resilience, Confidence & Wellbeing (pdf)
This research study analysed articles, research studies and case studies on outdoor learning and then evaluated the impacts of long term Forest School programmes on children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing. It established that long term Forest Schools programmes had positive impacts on children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing.
Sarah Blackwell, Get Children Outdoors, c2015
The impact of regular Forest School sessions on young teenagers wellbeing
Otterhead Forest School, Taunton – Forest School for young teenagers. ‘Research focus: to observe and document the impacts of the Forest School (FS) process on the wellbeing of young people, especially those who only came for six sessions, rather than longer term participants.’
Part of the Good From Woods Project, 2014
Contemporary issues in Forest Schools
Fully-referenced report explains the philosophy behind Forest Schools, why it’s been introduced in England & its relevance to the Early Years National Curriculum. It outlines the history & benefits of FS in the Early Years, how it can address current crises in the UK, and explains the problems encountered in delivering the initiative.
The WritePass Journal, 1 December 2012
Forest of Avon Trust – City of Bristol College – Forest ‘School’ for young people
Investigating ‘the potential impacts on health and wellbeing of woodland activities provided in Forest School-style sessions. Research carried out with a group of young people with learning difficulties.’
Part of the Good From Woods Project, 2011
Forest of Avon Trust – ShireLink – Forest ‘School’ for adults
‘Forest School is promoted nationally as playing a beneficial role in child development, but less attention is given to its potential benefits for adults. This study worked with a group of adults with learning disabilities who attend a daycare centre in Bristol.’
Part of the Good From Woods Project, 2011
Can Forest School Act as a Spur to Better Quality Outdoor Experiences? (pdf)
Report summing up Forest School, some of the research into its benefits, and some challenges.
Sara Knight, Anglia Ruskin University, c2009.
A Marvellous Opportunity to Learn: a participatory evaluation of Forest School in England and Wales
Found the following value added benefits
- rich supply of resources and materials for use in other curriculum areas
- opportunities to involve parents and wider community
- chance for staff to observe students in a different setting
- opportunities for staff to learn new skills, and enjoy the benefits of Forest Schools too!
- offers an alternative to our over-reliance on digital and electronic sources for recreation, learning, socialising
- offers an opportunity to become fitter and healthier
- participants learn to recognise and assess risks for themselves
Liz O’Brien & Richard Murray, New Economics Foundation, 2003
Forest School and its impacts on young children: Case studies in Britain (pdf)
The research highlights that children can benefit in a range of ways. Six themes emerged from the data of the positive impacts on children in terms of confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills and knowledge and understanding.
Liz O’Brien & Richard Murray, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 6 (2007) 249–265
Such enthusiasm – a joy to see: Evaluation of Forest School: Phase 2 – England
Outlines what Forest School is, how it came into being in Britain and what children do at Forest School, and explores the benefits and impacts of Forest School on children over an extended period of time.
Forest School Research, October 2005
Forest School Evaluation Project: A Study in Wales
For children taking part there is a link between Forest School activities carried out in a specific environment and six specific, positive outcomes that relate to their self-confidence, self-esteem, team working, motivation, pride in, and understanding of their surroundings.
Richard Murray, New Economics Foundation, April to November 2003