Forest School


AKPS Forest School Staff:

Mr. S Jackson Forest school Leader (Teaching assistant, Level 3 forest school qualification and Newt licence) 

Mrs. L Willis Forest school assistant (Qualified teaching assistant and horticulturalist)       

Forest School at AKPS Guide

Forest Schools skills progression

At AKPS forest school is an important part of our ‘Shine Curriculum’ and as our school is in a rural conservation area it enables us to help the children learn about the environment and nature around them so that they are respectful and care for it, it also provides a progressive set of skills (see progression document) which are learned outdoors and these support learning within the classroom by developing perseverance, resilience, team work and leadership along with the wellbeing benefits of learning outdoors.  

Forest school sessions at AKPS run twice weekly on a rolling timetable so that all classes get access to the sessions. In EYFS (Class R) children access forest school daily as they have designed and built a bespoke forest school area and can build willow structures plant and grow vegetables and fruit and cook with this and explore hills and tunnels and lead the learning through outdoor exploration, play and enquiry whilst accessing the skills form the EYFS section of our forest school progressions document.  

Children come to school dressed in their warm comfy outdoor clothes for the timetabled sessions.  We use a progressive skills document which we have created to ensure that forest school enables children to progress and grow in key areas. We record the children`s progression by following the progression document, reviewing lessons and being flexible to adapt and change the lesson plan to suit the children’s individual needs or any specific current events/ topics of areas of the curriculum which are in focus. The progression document means that children repeat and build skills over time so that they are embedded and this includes safety talks and teaching and we risk assess our lessons through evolve Wiltshire to ensure safety at all times.  Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Willis along with the class teacher take photos of each session so that we have a record of each activity that each class has done over the year.   

Residential Visits: Our progressive KS2 residential visits are carefully planned to extend our forest school work offsite. Year 3 forest school camp overnight on the school field: willow sculpting, cooking outdoors, camping, campfire activities and bat box/ wildlife camera observations.  Year 4 one night in forest of dean winter forest stay (indoors) with onsite outdoor adventure activities, woodland walk and nature observations, star gazing and identification and campfire. Year 5 forest camp for 2 nights with offsite adventurous activities and in forest challenges, Year 6 London city contrast residential but set in conservation area outside London for similarities and nature observations and contrast to daily journey into the city.

Impact: As we have been doing this for many years now, we have seen first-hand the benefits for our children including: building self-esteem, resilience, perseverance, team building, leadership, self-challenge, benefits of learning outdoors, problem solving and therapeutic effects on children’s wellbeing from gardening. Pupil voice tells us how much children enjoy the sessions and some parent feedback has also shown us how this outdoor learning has unlocked potential for their children who would usually find indoor classroom learning more challenging and as a result of the combination of outdoor and indoor learning have thrived in the classroom.  

What our pupils say:

HB ‘Forest School has helped me to build new things out of outdoor materials. It has built my resilience and things that have been tricky to build I have persevered with.’

DR ‘Forest School has helped me to learn about animals. In particular insects and tiny bugs. It has helped me to identify different types of trees and their leaves.’


FP ‘Forest School has helped me with my building tactics such as dens. It has helped me to learn how to build strong fires so they don’t go out easily.’


NL ‘I really enjoy Forest School. It is great because it has taught me life-long skills and skills that I will need in the future.’

Reach for the stars: We are ambitious and enter many competitions and awards and teach the children life skills like knot tying, lighting a fire in a safe and controlled manner, den building, leaf art, orienteering, respect for the environment, understanding nature and of course gardening. We allow the children to take risks always under adult supervision, and we encourage children to peer teach, which in turn builds confidence, trust and self-esteem. 

We teach the children about the wildlife around and in the school field so that they are knowledgeable and respectful of the environment in which they live. Using the wildlife camera, we have found which animals visit the grounds when everyone has gone home, we are very lucky to have the following animals: Foxes, Badgers and hedgehogs visiting the school most nights, we have also placed a few bat boxes around the field with owl and bird boxes to encourage more wildlife into our field. We have an annual newt licence as we are very privileged to have protected newts in our school pond which we have to ensure are kept safe and protected and that our children understand this. We work on tree identification as part of the lessons as we have lots of different species within the school field, and learning animals and insects which live on or in the tree and how we must not litter (responsibility) as this can cause harm to these animals and insects. We created posters for caring for the environment for the local lakes and won a competition for raising awareness for the general public by doing so.  

We also make cross curricular links with forest school so for example when learning about Vikings we have whittled Viking tools and when learning about the water cycle we have done water filtration in forest school and used the cleaned water to cook with on our outdoor cooking fire area.  We also started working with our ELSA team through one forest school session a week which enables them to see children in a different environment which we have found very helpful, allowing the children to communicate with the adults outside the classroom and support children with their emotional literacy and wellbeing within a natural relaxed outdoor environment, thinking about building self-esteem, team work and resilience.  

Shine: Over the past year the children have grown vegetables and flowers from seeds, they are now working along the Skinny Jean Gardener`s (Blue Peter gardener) school success plan, which is aiming to help every primary school develop a garden to grow food, to help the children understand where their food comes from and within the gardening activities the children learn how to sow, grow and harvest plants. We are an ambassador school so share our practice with other schools and support Lee in his national road shows and promotion videos to support other schools to participate especially those in city areas.  

As part of forest school, the children have planned and built four show gardens, winning a prestigious gold medal at Malvern Spring Show based upon a community project around remembrance using the diary and memoirs of a family member to base the wartime garden upon. This led to involving villagers and sparked a lot of local interest and involvement. This year, using what we have learned from Malvern, each class will plan and build a garden as part of the lesson, and Lee Aka the Skinny Jean Gardener will judge the results.    

As well as working with the Skinny Jean gardener as an ambassador school, we also work with the RHS campaign for school gardening and are delighted that recently our children have achieved level 5 (the top level). We are already growing onions, garlic and broad beans and we have started using the Vegepod raised bed to help bring on seedlings. 

We have a new forest school green star badge which children can earn by consistently achieving all 5 criteria points to enable all pupils to shine as forest school ambassadors.

How to earn your green Forest school star

We would like to thank Coir products, Natural Grower, Vegepod UK, Balfour & Burleigh garden and Lee the Skinny Jean gardener for supporting our school.   



Using the schools many outdoor learning environments, children are encouraged and inspired to grow in confidence, independence and self-esteem through the natural world and to take responsibility for nature conservation in later life.

Please refer to the calendar for all Forest School dates.

This term Class R have made dinosaurs with sticks, and also some fantastic bridges after learning all about Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The rest of the school have been busy planting willow, tidying up the pond area, pruning some of the trees and making insect homes. We have even cooked flat bread over the fire, and made a compass using water and a pin.
This week we were very lucky to get a visit from Lee AKA the Skinny Jean Gardener and his team as he did his school tour. He taught the whole school how to sow seeds with help from M&S. After he spent time with the whole school Lee stayed on to join Class 3 with a forest school lesson, letting the children show him around the school grounds and asking questions.
We are now looking forward to planning the new gardens around the school.

Follow the link to see us on the ‘sow along’ tour youtube video:


RHS Malvern show 

The children from classes 3 & 4 have planned the show garden; it will be 3 meters square and is based on the  film ‘The Grand Day Out’. The design will be a rocket  along with flowers and vegetables and a sand area to represent the moon (with a slab made into cheese biscuits). The children will grow and build the garden during forest school sessions. They will then take it to the show the week before, after the show it will come back to the school. If any one would like to help with the garden just speak to Mr Jackson.

Forest School Update from Mr Jackson 

Over the past year I have gained a licence to handle the great crested newts which we are fortunate to have in our school pond, so now the children will be able to monitor the wildlife within the school grounds and help keep them healthy! This year we have been very lucky we have not got wet yet ! Year 6 had the first session of the year in which they carried out a risk assessment of the school field which was very successful lesson. In week two year 5 cooked dampers [bread] over the fire and we talked about fire safety. Year 4 made Roman jewellery. This week year 3 are also making Roman jewellery with year 2 making picture frames out sticks they find around the school grounds.
This year we are also hoping to improve our fire area and build a bigger fire pit by raising it up so the children can stand around the fire when they are cooking. If any one has any old bricks that we could use please just let school know and maybe we could get the children to help construct the fire pit.
Also I would like to thank Mrs Willis for her support within forest school sessions.

Forest School Update from Mr Jackson 

The focus for learning for years R, 1 & 2 was to work on their fine motor skills, as well as working together [Social skills]. Year 4`s focus was to learn about paint and how it can be made out of natural materials as the Greeks would have done and Year`s 5 & 6 learnt about insects, where they live and the importance of insects within the natural world as well as tool safety and working together as part of a group.

This week activity for year 6 is to dig a fire pit and make a fire using only materials which the children can find in the school grounds and talk about fire safety, why we need a fire pit and how the Kelly kettle works, how to build a fire and what we will need to start the fire.