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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > London Local > Greenwich > Work and Money > Scandinavian teaching style in Greenwich

New practitioners of the Forest School philosophy

New leaders of Forest Schools theory

Scandinavian teaching style in Greenwich

First pioneered in the 1950s, the Northern European philosophy of 'Forest Schools' is coming to a corner of South-East London. But, what are Forest Schools and how will they change the way we teach our children?

Enjoying the great outdoors may be difficult if you're growing up in one of the world's largest cities, but practitioners of Forest Schools say its an increasingly important aspect of a child's development.

The aim of the philosophy is to help children as young as four develop independence and self-esteem in a natural outdoor environment.

It's thought by allowing children to lead the lessons themselves, with adults only there to encourage observation and assessment, pupils will grow in confidence.

'Intrinsic motivation'

A new book, 'Forest Schools in Greenwich: Principles into Practice’, suggests pupils can develop 'intrinsic motivation and emotional and social skills' from learning in the outdoor environment.

Children are given achievable tasks and activities in a woodland setting, with the hope of strengthening their own 'self regulation' and equipping them with a 'positive mental attitude.'

In other countries Forest Schools have 'demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis' and learn how to handle risks and use their own initiative.

Cllr Jackie Smith

Cllr Jackie Smith

'Natural world'

Cllr Jackie Smith who runs services for young people in Greenwich says: “sessions are held in all weathers so that children can experience a rich awareness of the natural world in all its seasons."

She added: "They also provide children with high-quality outdoor education that is invaluable to them and also teaches them in a natural way to respect the environment.”

The first Greenwich Forest School began in March 2006 and was funded by Neighbourhood Renewal money. This was set up at the Environment Curriculum Centre in New Eltham.

Young reaction

Four year old Jennie attended a Forest School session in New Eltham and said: “I’ve found a big stick but I’ve got to carry it behind me to be safe!”

Meanwhile Jake, also four, said “I saw a robin!”

Now forty-five new 'leaders' are being set up across the borough, either at primary schools or within walking distance of the schools.


The current model for Forest Schools may have come from Scandinavia in the 1950's but in fact the original idea of giving children an education outdoors comes from Germany and is over a hundred years old.  It came to Britain, also in the London Borough of Greenwich, exactly 101 Years ago today. Today, 22 July 2008 is the 101st anniversary of the first Open Air School in Britain.  It was set up by the London County Council and The Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society in Bostall Heath, in the London Borough of Greenwich.

- Andy

last updated: 22/07/2008 at 16:35
created: 12/06/2008

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