Where is my nearest Forest School?
Forest School is a process not a place, and programmes are not available country-wide, although regular sites may be established in some locations, both urban and rural. Holiday and after-school clubs run by Forest School practitioners may be available. As an experiential long term programme, Forest School may start and stop according to school or community priorities, often depending on the availability of funding, access to sites, transport and qualified Level 3 Forest School practitioners to develop and lead the sessions. Parents who are interested in their children attending Forest School sessions may find the guidance note Your Child and Forest School - Information for Parents and Carers useful. You may be able to attend a Forest School taster session, or visit a local Forest School to find out more. See details in Finding a Forest School.
Which Training Provider should I use?
Please see the Forest School Training Providers Scotland guidance note for more information on training providers offering courses in Scotland, qualifications, and contact details. All courses have to deliver a similar syllabus, but the style and organisation of the course may vary, including how training days are organised, delivery style, and how evidence of learning/ portfolios can be presented etc. Which course or provider suits you best may depend on your own strengths, weaknesses and needs, previous experience - and the location of the training.
How much does the training cost?
The cost of Forest School training varies depending on which provider you use, how training is structured, and which level you chose. Typically, Level 3 training costs ranges from £850 - £950 while Levels 1 and 2 fees can range from £250 - £500 (not including VAT). There is also the cost of Outdoor First Aid training to consider. Contact the Forest School Training Provider for current pricing.
Is there funding available?
Often people seek funding to cover their training costs, or to support a Forest School programme (equipment and/ or staff costs). Funding for training is hard to find and depends on individual circumstances. Involvement with your OWL local group can provide support and resources and may be a route to some funding opportunities for Forest School. It may be possible, for example to develop shared resources that can support woodland activities, including the purchase of Forest School equipment, using the funds made available annually to constituted OWL local groups. Contact your local group or the OWL Scotland Manager for more details.
Other funds become available at different times from other sources. The section How do I set up a Forest School? provides some suggestions for freelance practitioners. The section Background to Forest School describes how funding for Forest School training has been made available at different times through local authorities, Forestry Commission and national Government.
Tools and equipment - what's needed and where can I get it?
You don't need much to start off with - natural resources are free and renewable! There are several companies that supply tools for Forest School. Some Forest School Training Providers sell equipment or can provide links to companies that do.
Do I need First Aid training?
It is a requirement that you have the First Aid at Work or Intermediate Temporary Care (ITC) qualification. Forest School Training Providers may set up a First Aid course as part of their course, or provide suitable contacts. Otherwise you will need to find an appropriate course independently. For further information see the Forest School Training section.
Ticks - a risk?
Be aware of how to deal with ticks and minimise the risks - and continue enjoy the outdoors. In grassy or woodland areas, it's important to be aware of the health risks carried by ticks. Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures which attach themselves to passing animals and people. The following sources of information are available to download from this website: a Forestry Commission leaflet Ticks and tick-borne diseases, and a Public Health England leaflet Ticks and your health: Information about tick bite risks and prevention.
What Forest School Resources are available on this website?
There are many support resources available for Forest School practitioners. These include:
- Forest School Scotland Resource Pack - designed to support Forest School practitioners working in a range of situations across Scotland. It provides ideas and activities, templates and sample programmes that you can adapt and develop to fit your particular setting and group.
- Forest School & Curriculum for Excellence – useful links and resources developed with teacher practitioners.
- Forest School Scotland information leaflet
- Guidance Notes – including Guidance for Land Owners, and Your Child and Forest School - Information for Parents and Carers
- Forest School and Forest Kindergarten case studies - giving snapshots of Forest School sessions from secondary, primary and early years programmes in Scotland. Search for ‘case study’ in the Resources section.
- Minutes of meetings – including Forest School Scotland Working Group meeting minutes
- Local OWL group project reports – including local Forest School initiatives
- Woodland learning ideas and activities
- Research documents
- The OWL (FEI) Facebook group is a great source of shared ideas, resources, and debate on all aspects of outdoor learning, including Forest School.
Use the ‘Search’ facility on the OWL Scotland home page, or via the OWL Scotland Resources page, selecting the appropriate category and key words.
How do I find a site?
Forest School can happen in urban and rural locations. The minimum required is an outdoor site with natural features including some trees and shelter. In some cases, school grounds can make an ideal starting point. The ideal setting for learning in the woods would have the following:
- Be a well-managed broadleaved/ mixed woodland, with a diversity of smaller trees, shrubs and open areas.
- Have good mobile ‘phone reception in case of emergencies.
- Ideally, be accessible on foot.
- Have a clear access point at the entrance for emergency vehicles and an external parking/drop off point for educational transport if required.
- Have easy access within it plus opportunities to explore off the main paths.
- Have minimal public access, and no accessible open deep water nearby
You should be best able to judge suitability of a site for your needs. However, even if you think a wood may be ideal for Forest School you must check with the landowner or manager that they agree to its use. See the OWL Scotland Guidance for Landowners.
Other ways to find and record information about your Forest School site:
Explore your local area – what green spaces can you find? Look at local maps. Use online satellite mapping online to identify possible sites.
Scotland’s Greenspace Map is an innovative Geographical Information System (GIS) based map which provides comprehensive information on the location, extent and type of greenspace across all of Scotland’s urban settlements (towns and cities with a population of 3,000 or more).
Education Scotland has an online site search facility for Places to Learn Outdoors
VisitWoods is an interactive website developed by the Woodland Trust showcasing local woods. The site includes searchable maps, inspiring ideas, free activities and space to upload your photos and tips.