Woodland play boosts learning

1st June 2007 at 01:00
THE BEHAVIOUR of every child observed at a forest school dedicated to outdoor learning in woodlands significantly improved over a 14-week period, according to a report endorsing their roll-out across Wales.

Self-esteem, confidence, stamina and increased concentration of pupils with short attention spans were found to be boosted during the study, headed by the Forestry Commission, that looked at six areas of learning.

Many pupils were quiet and reserved at first but gradually were willing to share ideas as a team, the report says. Children aged four to nine from Ysgol Pentre, a small primary in Pentre, North Wales, were randomly selected for the study, which also took in parents' views.

Teachers tracked the progress of the pupils, who were asked to keep diaries. Ffion Hughes, the Forestry Commission's north-east education officer, led the research alongside Lorna Jenner, a freelance environmental education consultant.

Ms Hughes said the findings justified the inclusion of the forest school approach, based on a Scandinavian project, in the play-led foundation phase curriculum for three to seven-year-olds.

"This project represents an important milestone in the story of forest schools in Wales and will hopefully lead to a strengthening of our woodlands play."

Estyn has praised the project, calling it outstanding after a recent school inspection. The report, which the Commission claims is ground-breaking, also found that four out of nine pupils were keener to explore the countryside while out with their families.

Children who previously lacked interest were able to walk long distances and jump over stiles after five weeks, it says. The report will go to all local authorities in Wales.

* www.foresteducation.org.uk

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today