Forest School in the UK may seem to be a fairly new movement, however, in reality the concept is based on a rich heritage of outdoor learning going back at least to the 19th century. Philosophers, naturalists and educators such as Wordsworth, Ruskin, Baden Powell, Leslie Paul, Kurt Hahn, Susan Isaacs and the Macmillan sisters all laid the foundations for what is known today as Forest School.
During the 1970s and 80s the UK education system moved toward a more teacher / outcome-centred approach in an attempt to improve numeracy and literacy, primarily through the introduction of a national curriculum. Somewhat in response to this, there was a growth of ‘alternative’ educational models in the 1990s and it is in this context that Forest School emerged.
In 1995 Bridgwater College developed a BTech in Forest School and started to offer it to early years practitioners in particular. Many involved in outdoor learning saw this as something that built upon the UK’s outdoor learning heritage and soon Forest School was being offered around the UK.
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