Abriachan Forest Trust (AFT) is the first and longest running Forest School provider in the Highlands. Since 2004, AFT has been delivering Forest School programmes to schools, colleges, youth and adult groups. These, along with Health and Wellbeing programmes, have provided groups with the opportunity to experience an outdoor / forest environment through focused and structured learning, developing self esteem, confidence and interpersonal skills.
AFT has a purpose built forest classroom which offers year round teaching whatever the weather (there are only a few day when snow restricts access).
In addition to the forest classroom, AFT also has a number of sites throughout the woodland specifically built to offer exciting teaching and learning opportunities for all groups. We have an outdoor all weather Forest School site, shelter building area, a versatile round house/bronze age dwelling/Celtic home/Gruffalo shelter/Hagrid's hut, a wildlife hide, two tree houses, an all weather adventure play park and hidden on the hill a shieling, whisky still, peat path and a Celtic calendar.
What is Forest school?:
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults, regular opportunities to achieve,develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.
The Forest School ethos focuses on an approach to learning that maximises the emotional, social and developmental benefits of education.
Forest School works with children and young people in the outdoors over a period of time, working with a higher than normal staffing ratio, introducing responsible risk-taking and setting participants up to achieve. Forest School is run by a qualified Forest School Leader (level 3), together with other staff who are well versed in the Forest School process
Provides child initiated and self directed learning
Takes place in a safe and supportive environment
Is run by trained staff
Has small groups and high staff:participant ratio
Recognises individuals' learning needs
Takes into account different learning styles
Enables learning how to take appropriate risks safely
Uses small achievable tasks which become increasingly challenging
Involves freely chosen play
Improves social skills
Improves knowledge and understanding of the natural environment
Activities can include exploring, bush craft, campfires and cooking, den building, green play, woodwork, foraging, using tools, woodland management, environmental education games, art and music, mathematics, science, history, sustainability...
Forest School is suitable for anyone. It is particularly beneficial for nursery children, young people not succeeding in school for whatever reason, those with learning/behaviour challenges and other community groups who benefit from spending purposefully active time outdoors.
[ i]What does Forest school aim to achieve?
A recent study carried out by the Forestry Commission in Wales measured the beneficial effects of forest school with a group of children from Pentre Primary School in N.Wales. The areas of benefit they identified reflect the outcomes which time and again, are associated with Forest School. These are:
Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
Improved social skills
The development of language and communication skills
Improved physical motor skills
Improved motivation and concentration
Increased knowledge and understanding of the environment
Worcestershire Council have also undertaken research into the benifits of Forest school the results of which can be found at
Forestry Commission Scotland have also recently published two papers on Forest School:Evidence for restorative health benefits in young people and Physical Activity at Forest School
What are the different levels of training?
To be a Forest School Leader it is important to undertake the necessary training.
Level 3 training is available to teachers, support assistants, health care workers, nursery nurses, etc, with relevant experience.
Level 2 training is shorter, and designed for people with less previous experience of working with children and young people, or those who only want to work as assistants.
Level 1 training is available to people who only want to work on existing school/nursery/playwork sites.
AFT offers training to teachers requiring aninsight to the forest school process. INSET days can be organised and run offering a mix of both theoretical and practical activities designed to explore the benefits and practicalities of taking part in Forest School.
Training days will explore the ethos of FS and ways in which the techniques learned through the various levels of trainig can be applied into everyday teaching practice
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