Case Studies and Local Examples

  • Derbyshire Forest Schools

Lons Infant School


 This spring (2013) Lons Infant School celebrated the completion of their new Outdoor Classroom/Forest SchoolOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA base with every child planting a tree supplied by The Woodland Trust.

Amanda Godber, Head Teacher, first contacted Derbyshire County Council Environmental Studies Service two years ago regarding how to begin work on an area of woodland that belonged to the school but had not so far been used. The area fell between the school and recreational ground, had become very overgrown and a popular place to dump rubbish!

Amanda and the school governors have worked hard to secure funding, advice and support to completely transform the area into a beautiful outdoor learning area.

Amber Valley-20130313-01269“We secured funding from Awards for All (lottery), The Cooperative (Ripley store), Derbyshire County Council provided match funding for the fence and we also received funding from the DCC Green Watch Action grant. Much needed help came from Stuart Joynes Vice chair and all my governing body, Amber Valley Council Tree Wardens, DCC property services did the work on the decking and pathways which means we can now use a very boggy area all year round and probation services took on the task of litter picking and first clear of brambles which allowed safe access to the site.  Advice was gratefully received from lots of people along the way including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and many more. Amber Valley-20130313-01271

Ultimately the project success has been down to a lot of hard work and aOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA shared determination that it was going to be completed for the good of the children and the community. It has taken about 2 ½ years (!) but we are all very proud of our new site and can’t wait to make use of it.”  Amanda Godber

Lons Infant School are very happy for other schools and the community to use this site for outdoor learning. Please contact the school for more information.

Chaucer Infant and Nursery SchoolOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

November 2012, Forest School Leader – Christine Wojtania

Chaucer Infant School was able to access funding from DCC Extended Services via DCC Environmental Studies Service which enabled Christine to attend OCN Forest Schools Level 3 Training during 2011. The training took place at Elvaston Castle Country Park and was delivered by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Christine is now leading regular Forest School programmes and tells us a little about the creation of Chaucer Infants’ new Forest School base below. . .

We have been a Forest School for approximately one year and I had been working with nursery children aged 3 to 4 years in the school grounds as we have lots of trees, a log circle, bird hide etc. The children had been having a 6 week Forest School experience with a visit to Shipley Park Forest School site on the last week in order to experience a true woodland environment. Although valuable, unfortunately the visit resulted in a lot of extra work organising transport (in staff cars), child seats have to be brought into school and extra pressure on staff.  A piece of unused, neglected woodland adjacent to the school had recently been fenced off due to staff safety issues and it had a gate to it! An opportunity not to be missed, could this be our new Forest School site?  


Derbyshire County Council Environmental Studies team were consulted and a meeting held with Groundwork Derby and Derbyshire and lots of ideas were generated. While I was thinking of plans to involve some parents and staff with the hard work a phone call was received from The Prince’s Trust based at Derby College. They were looking for small community projects for their students. A meeting was held with the students and the following day we were told we had been chosen as their project.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks later with my ideas list and some money raised from a non -uniform day in hand the Princes Trust Team proceeded to transform the area into a forest school base, with pathways, bug habitats and a fire circle. The young adults worked extremely hard to make the area as safe and interesting as possible for the children. We are now frequently running Forest School sessions in a lovely woodland environment which is just outside the classroom door.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Princes Trust team that visted school work in the Erewash/Derby City area, contact Kelly Coleman 07966596085. There are also programmes based in Chesterfield and Alfreton.

Alfreton Nursery Forest School

Forest Schools at Alfreton Nursery school has become something very special that all our families and children enjoy.  We have our own Forest School Garden that we have created in our grounds that we call Granny Greenwood’s garden because Granny Greenwood the puppet lives down there.

The garden continues to evolve, but at the moment it has a willow cave and tunnel, a tepee, a big log circle, a bug wall, 60 baby silver Birch trees and a variety of fruit trees growing amongst it.  The children access this regularly and have weekly focused forest school sessions amongst it in their 2nd and 3rd term.  In the children’s 4th term they have 10 morning or afternoon sessions where they explore and extend their Forest School experiences within our own nursery Woodland.  They have a very special Forest School friend called Forest Fern, a puppet that the children believe lets them come and play in her woodland garden.

We thoroughly embrace and enjoy learning through an exciting and challenging Forest School curriculum, and to ensure that everyone becomes involved we dedicate an annual Inset training day for the whole nursery team to develop their own skills, knowledge and experience in our woodland.  Next summer will be our 4th training session in the woodland.

Article submitted by Laura Dolby, Alfreton Nursery


William Rhodes Primary and Nursery School

(Lyn Pardo from Brampton Primary School has been involved in Forest Schools for a number of years and tells us about her experience with William Rhodes Primary Schools’ Forest School during 2009)

At the beginning of the Summer Term, I received an exciting invitation to help William Rhodes Primary School set up and run a Forest School programme. The group was chosen, and with the help of the ranger team at Linacre Reservoirs, a site was selected.  Next we planned the programme, and arranged the necessary equipment before holding a meeting with parents.

I met the group, and after walking to our site together we played a few games to break the ice. The children were not quite sure what to expect, but soon became very enthusiastic, especially when we spotted a grass snake sunbathing. The first day was exciting, as we had to set up our own log circle. This gave the children real ownership and it was here that the adventures of stickman would be described and often acted out!  Over the following weeks we did lots of exploring, found many good climbing trees and it really became our place.

By Christmas I felt these children and I knew each other really well, and I certainly enjoyed their company. We also knew our outdoor classroom and its inhabitants extremely well!

The picture shows children getting really muddy – just one of the joys of learning in the outdoors

Article submitted by Lyn Pardo, Brampton Primary School

Tibshelf Community School

Life here is very busy and changes to our timetables are constantly being reviewed. However, the good news is that Forest Schools at our school (Tibshelf Community School, North Wingfield site) (ex Deincourt) is going very well.

June 2010, we acquired the prestigious Plantation Wood at the side of Hardwick Hall, thanks to everyone at the National Trust at Hardwick. As it stands at the moment we have 2 groups that attend each week. The first is on a Tuesday when we take a group of 6, year 7 & year 8 students. We also take to the same site 10, year 7, 8 & 9 from the Tibshelf School every Thursday.

After a successful Forest Schools presentation with the school’s senior leadership team (SLT) recently, they have asked us to put a programme together for disengaged year 11’s as part of their individual ASDAN project starting after the February half term break, this therefore would mean that we are in our woodland classroom 3 days a week. As you can imagine, we are delighted that our school as a whole recognises that Forest Schools is making a difference to the students we are working with; we have been asked to take even more students out on a Forest Schools experience in the near future.

My colleague, Rachael Hardingham, has recently gained her Forest School Practioner level 3 qualification, which is fantastic. Together we work as a great team to deliver a variety of set lesson plans including: shelter building, tool making, setting up a camp fire, camp fire cooking, woodland management and a host of other activities that the students have adapted well too.

Please find attached one or two photos we have recently taken, just to give you a taste of the kind of work we are doing in the woods.


Article submitted by Stephen Kirkwood, Tibshelf Community School

  • Other projects and case studies outside Derbyshire

Silverdale Forest School – As part of the Access to Nature Project in Sussex, this case study highlights a forest school initiative and includes extracts from an Ofsted report. This initiative in Hastings is coming into its final year, for more information on this project read the case study.

International Forest Schools and Nature Kindergartens – International case studies, reports and blog posts from around the globe collated by Juliet Robertson of Creative Star Learning Company




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