Outdoor Learning

Forest School at Grovelands

Playing games in the trees
Telling stories around the fire
Muddy Hands

Outdoor Learning reinforces the six learning powers promoted across the school: ‘engagement, co-operation, challenge, resourcefulness, determination and creativity’

Sessions provide a less structured learning context where children can freely explore and develop these skills helping them to become resilient and reflective learners.

The different settings within the school grounds offers a range of opportunities; sessions take place in the woodland, pond, willow area or on the large fields.

These natural green spaces provide a less structured learning environment and is an opportunity for children to enhance their knowledge and skills.

As well as building motivation, confidence and self-esteem, Forest School makes links with the classroom curriculum and enables practical and nature-based learning to take place beyond the classroom.

Forest School Area
Forest School Children on Bench

Children’s hands on experiences with nature has many benefits.

Activities are adapted to meet the individual needs and interests of each child. Forest School supports different learning styles and encourages children to make discoveries using all the senses.

Sessions use a child centred approach, which is an empowering process for children. It allows them to take responsibility for their learning and development and evaluate risks for themselves.This can raise aspiration, motivation and inspire creative thinking.

Outdoor Learning enriches the learning that takes place inside school and can enhance knowledge and understanding.



Children are encouraged to use a broad vocabulary to describe the natural environment and the different activities helps extend their language. Speaking and listening opportunities occur through incidental conversation and opportunities to talk and share ideas through circle times, games and team building activities to encourage collaboration with peers. Children learn about their surroundings from information books and their imagination is fostered through exciting fictional stories.

Children wrap up warm and embrace the British weather!

Children wrap up warm and
embrace the British weather!

Children experience the seasons and learn about where they live

Children experience the seasons and
learn about where they live.


It is easy to see how Forest School supports knowledge and understanding of science especially as sessions takes place outside in all weathers all year round. The encounters children make with the different elements allows them to experience the seasons and changing weather patterns. Children learn about the diversity of the living world in their woodland and pond. They learn how to identify plants, birds, animals and other living organism s and how to support the local wildlife.


Sessions are a great opportunity to study the geography of the forest school sites, school grounds and surrounding area.  Activities include creating 3D floor maps
using natural objects and journey sticks to record physical, human and environmental features and creating micro maps from an ‘ants’ point of view. Children enjoy experiencing the changing weather patterns first hand; a ‘snowy’ woodland is a particular favourite.
Snowy Woodland Walk
Child learning how to use tools


Children are taught how to use tools safely and develop practical skills with equipment they would not normally have access to. As well as learning woodland craft, their skills are linked to focused topics, such as building bird boxes.

Children learn how to use loppers, secateurs, peelers, hand drills, bow saws and an axe as well as lashing and how to tie different types of knots. They can apply their skills in mini self-directed projects. These activities help children build strength and co-ordination supporting physical development.       

Bird box


Art projects take on many forms at Forest School. The woodcraft products they create with tools can capture children’s imagination and have multiply uses as ideas evolve. A whittled stick can become a magic wand then be used to cook marshmallows. A mallet a child makes can be used for making Leaf Print art. Children can design and create sculptures out of naturally found objects or make charcoal pencils and natural paint. They can use their self-made art materials to produce observational sketches and drawings of their environment.

This is a great way to capture and record their experiences. Children enjoy representing their favourite fictional characters as stick men, learning to weave and making sticky weed crowns.

Working in the outdoors and with the natural environment can be an inspiring process for children and give them the freedom to imagine, design, construct and think creatively.

Leaf Print art
stick men
sticky weed crowns


Children support each other and work together as a forest school community. They follow rules and understand how these keep them safe. They work together using tools like the bow saw. Children collaborate in projects such as building dams, den building, and making play equipment. Group activities support social communication skills; children negotiate, share ideas and listen to others.

Children playing together

Weather and Clothing

Outdoor learning happens in all weather conditions, unless the weather is extremely poor. There is no such thing as bad weather, just weather, and all we need to do is dress appropriately.

Children lose heat much quicker when wet and once they are cold, children find it harder than adults to get warm again.

We expect children to get muddy and wet at times therefore inexpensive and old clothes are most suitable. 


Forest School at Grovelands

Connect with us

Grovelands School, Dunbar Drive,
Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 3UW.

Staff Contacts

  • Executive Headteacher: Mr Jon Goulding
  • Head of School: Miss Kathleen Swaine
  • School Business Manager: Mrs Helen Fingerneissl
  • School Secretary: Mrs Carol Welfare
  • Chair of Governors: Mr Paul Gietzen
  • Designated Safeguarding Lead: Mr Jon Goulding
  • Safeguarding Strategic Lead / Senior Mental Health Lead: Miss N Squires
  • Deputy DSLs: Miss K Swaine,  Miss S Coates, Mr R Williams
  • Inclusion Leader: Mrs Naomi Jn. Charles