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Welcome to the Gilbertstone Forest School page! Take a look at our lovely photos and find out more about our fantastic Forest School.

What is a Forest School?

Forest School uses the outdoor environment to help all children learn. Children are encouraged to develop independence skills, improve their decision making, and raise their self-esteem through small achievable tasks.


Forest Schools have been an integral part of early years education in Scandinavia since the 1950’s. Their philosophy of the Forest School was based upon a desire to provide young children with an education which encouraged appreciation of the wide, natural world and which would encourage responsibility for nature conservation in later life. Today the children will spend the whole day outside, in all weather, even cooking their own lunch from scratch.

Learning Outside the Classroom

The DCSF’s Learning outside the Classroom Manifesto (DfES 2006) opens with the statement that:


“Every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.”


Learning outside the classroom is about recognising that the best place for learning may not always be in conventional classroom environment. The outdoors should simply be seen as another, much larger classroom, with an abundance of natural resources and many opportunities for hands-on, 'real life' learning. When planning a project or unit of work, teachers should always consider how and where learning would best take place, and plan for frequent, continuous and progressive outdoor learning experiences.

Gilbertstone Forest School

Our Forest School was opened in 2009, after two years of planning, raising funds, erecting fencing and clearing a site. This was all done in partnership with Tony Tohill, a trained Forest School Leader. In 2010 - 2011 Maria Cunningham and Julie Hawtin completed their NVQ Level 3 Forest School Leader course. They are now fully trained to lead Forest School sessions.