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Nethergate Academy

Forest school and outdoor education at Nethergate

Claire Simpson is working with all year groups at Nethergate, throughout the whole school year, as resident forest school leader / creative practitioner.  Part of the allotment is being developed as a forest school area as well as development of other outside areas at school and Claire is also working with groups in the allotment growing many edible and wildlife friendly plants.


Claire is a qualified Level 3 Forest School leader and creative practitioner and is really excited to be working with Nethergate.  Forest school is an ethos which sees the natural world as a place to inspire curiosity, creativity, imagination, interactions and a place in which learning never stops.  Nature is filled with awe and wonder and the forest school ethos aims to give young people opportunities to connect with this, to be fascinated by the natural world – and by doing so there are endless opportunities for working together, for caring for nature and for ourselves and for each other.


The Forest School approach is not about a quick-fix or a one-off experience; Forest School sessions take place year-round, with any one group having sessions over many weeks and months to enable children and young people to explore many different experiences outside.  Sessions are specific to those participating and aim to give individuals space to explore their own needs and ideas as well as enable a sense of community.


Specific activities and tasks are introduced –  and young people are able to explore these in ways that meet their individual interests and needs and there is always a huge element of child-centred learning.   So, in any one session, some of the following might happen:

collecting natural objects and treasure hunts, 

den and shelter building, 

following and creating maps, 

art-work with natural materials, 

making up stories and songs, games

creating things with tools (always under close supervision), eg – chairs. Stools, tent pegs, cooking implements, 

learning to use ropes and lashings 

learning about plants and wildlife and exploring eco-systems, 

Fire lighting and cooking e.g. making bread, drop scones, popcorn, soup, dahl.

In each session there is always time built in for everyone to reflect on and discuss what they’ve experienced and plan what they’d like future sessions to include, so that subsequent sessions build on the interests of the pupils.


All children (and adults) learn a wonderful amount from the natural

world; they make discoveries, gain independence and pride, they build

friendships and they develop confidence.  Forest School sessions are about giving all children access to the wonder and possibility for learning in the natural world, and a chance to find inspiration.



Claire’s website and blog can be found here: