Forest School

Forest School is a long term developmental programme that takes place on a regular basis, typically once a week, for a minimum of 6 sessions, but usually longer. To lead a Forest School programme it is necessary to be a Level 3 certificated and qualified Forest School practitioner, and hold a current and appropriate Outdoor First Aid qualification.

The Forest School model originates in Scandinavia and involves participants journeying by foot (if possible) to a local woodland environment to learn outdoors on a regular sustained basis. It is a long-term client/child-led, educational process that promotes, observes and explicitly supports the social, emotional and physical development of children, young people and adults in an outdoor, preferably woodland, environment.


Forest School grew exponentially in Scotland. From 2003 to 2005 a training programme supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, created a core group of trained Forest School leaders in Scotland. A small number of these people became active Level 3 Forest School practitioners and trainers, resulting in a wider range of individuals and organisations able to deliver and support training in Scotland.

In 2010/11 there was a shift in focus to targeted Forest School training for teachers. A Forest School training programme for schools was delivered in four key geographical regions across Scotland, to build on existing capacity, and funded by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Scottish Government Learning Directorate. There are now over 500 trained leaders and assistant leaders. Delivery is mainly in primary schools but is now beginning to spread from nursery to adult groups, although Forest Kindergarten is an alternative option for Early Years.

Many resources including The Forest School Scotland guide are available from the Resources library of this website.

Membership of your local OWL group will help you to access resources, as well as local networks and expertise.