News and reviews

Here's why we love Forest School

Nov 19, 2017

Have you heard about Forest School? Next summer, there will be one here at the farm!

I’m just undergoing training to be a Forest School leader with a view to offering Forest School sessions here at Cuckoo Down Farm. I have learned about all sorts of things from how to use an axe to cooking over an open fire. My proudest possession right now is a wooden spoon that I whittled myself from a birch branch. It only took me three days to make, on and off.

The Forest School movement came about when a team from Bridgwater and Taunton College went over to Denmark in 1993 and saw how the nursery children over there spent their days. The Danish toddlers were wrapped up warm and played outside in nature, no matter what the weather.

That team was inspired, came home and set up the first UK Forest School. From then on, word has been spreading. Our local primary now has a forest school in its grounds and many people are realising that there are worse things that can happen to a child than getting wet, a bit cold or (heaven forbid) muddy.

I have to say, my happiest moments as a kid were up a tree, on a pony or on the beach. But in winter it is all too easy to look out a window, see rain sheeting down and decide to stay indoors instead.

Add to that the tremendous amount of entertainment that there is to be had in the average home these days. You can watch any movie, read any book, hear any music or talk to people all over the world. Or you can look endlessly at ten-second videos of kittens falling off sofas.

It makes it more difficult for a child to see the point of creating a mini world out of leaves and sticks under a holly bush. But I promise you, it’s the way forward, it really is. I’ve been practising my role as Forest School Leader with my son William (12) and his friends in the woods on our farm. Together, we tried out our woodworking skills by taking a saw and axe to a fallen log yesterday.

I’ll admit, I had a hard job persuading William to listen to my advice on safe axe handling. He seemed to lack respect for my leadership credentials, even though I’ve done a course! Instead, he badly wanted to wave the axe over his head, hacking at random undergrowth. ALl a bit Lord of the Flies - I think time needs to go into the whole “respect the trees” ethos of Forest School.

It's been loads of fun and hopefully by next summer our new Forest School will be up and running - see you there!


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