Ripley Infant School

Growing and Learning Together

Forest Schools

What is Forest Schools?

Forest Schools are nature-based communities where trained practitioners nurture learner led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts. Wellbeing is the foundation of our practice and through recognising the social, emotional and physical needs of participants we provide the guidance and facilitation for our time in nature. Through creating learner inspired experiences based on exploration and discovery, we recognise opportunities to mentor holistic growth over the course of long-term programmes. In developing the community, we nurture a culture based on collaboration and of embracing challenge so that we can allow, over time, for the blossoming of character, resilience and empathy, and for a greater sense of connection, with nature and for our shared future. 

– Archimedes Forest Schools



What will the children be doing at Forest Schools?

During their time at Forest Schools the children will enjoy a range of activities as well as closely supervised child-led play. Each session will have a plan, however, the plans will be open to change so they can be guided by events, and by what the children want to do. This makes each Forest Schools session unique. Examples of the types of structured activities the children will do include;


  • Flora and fauna identification
  • Building animal homes
  • Den building
  • Natural art/crafts
  • Story telling
  • Nature scavenger hunts
  • Mini beast hunting
  • Tree climbing
  • Tool use


After the initial sessions have run, during which the children will get to know our woodland site, boundaries and how to stay safe; the children will have the opportunity for safe tool use and also toasting marshmallows on a fire during the final session.

All Forest schools activities will be recorded and photographs uploaded on Tapestry, so you will be able to see what we have been doing.



Our site

Owned by Derbyshire County Council, our site is at Shaw Wood, Chesterfield Road, Oakerthorpe.  The woodland is locally known as Bluebell Woods.



Essential information

  • Your child will not be able to attend if the attached consent form is not signed and returned to school.
  • There is a small charge of £15 for the six week sessions.  This amount covers snacks, hot drinks and the cost of the minibus hire.
  • Forest Schools operates in all safe weather conditions. It is therefore, important that you read the ‘What to wear?’ section below.  The school will provide waterproof trousers and coats.  The coats are thin, so please ensure that your child has either warm enough layers on, and/or a warm coat suitable for that day’s weather conditions.  As we are in a woodland area, it is inevitable that your child will get wet and muddy.  Please send your child in old clothes. On the Forest Schools day please send your child in the clothes for Forest Schools and not their school uniform.  Please also send a pair of wellies or walking boots that your child can change into before leaving for the Forest Schools site. We do have a supply of wellies in school should anybody need these.
  • Sun cream must be applied before school.  The area is shaded by the tree canopies and we will ensure that your child is not sat in direct hot sunlight.
  • Your child will need to bring a packed lunch for each session, even if they usually have dinners.  Drinks must not be carbonated or in glass bottles.
  • The Forest Schools site can get muddy and it may rain.  Please send all lunch boxes in a bag.  A small rucksack is ideal or a plastic bag.
  • If it is necessary to cancel a session due to extreme weather (wind, thunderstorms, heavy rain or extreme cold/heat) at short notice, you will receive a text message.  In the event of extreme weather please check your text messages before leaving for school.  We will always try to accommodate these missed sessions at a later date.
  • It is essential that we have up to date contact details for all parents/carers and all emergency contacts.
  • For further information on Ripley Infant School Forest Schools please see our handbook which is available on our website  or a hard copy may be viewed which is kept in the school office.  The handbook also contains the Forest Schools policies and procedures.


What to wear?



  • Wellington boots, walking boots or trainers
  • Sun hat
  • Sun cream applied at home
  • Long-sleeved top or light shirt - to protect shoulders and arms from the sun, brambles and nettles
  • Long trousers – to protect the legs from the sun, brambles and nettles
  • Jumper or fleece – on hot days the temperature under the woodland canopy can be cooler

Waterproof coats and waterproof trousers are provided by school



  • Warm coat
  • Warm layers including vest, long sleeved top, jumper or fleece – thermal under garments are ideal
  • Long trousers – leggings, jogging bottoms or fleecy lined trousers (jeans not recommended) tights also provide another layer of warmth under trousers
  • Wellington boots – ideally a size bigger so thick socks can be worn or two pairs of thinner ones. Wool socks keep the feet warm.  If the feet are too tight inside the Wellington boots the feet will become cold
  • Warm hat, scarf and gloves

 Waterproof (not warm) coats and lined waterproof trousers are provided by school

School has a supply of wellington boots and clothing if needed.

Click here to download a copy of our Forest Schools Handbook



Finally, we have lots of fun at Forest Schools and we are always looking for volunteers!  If you are free to attend a session/s, please let me know.


Miss K Salt

Forest Schools OCN level 3 leader

Outdoor trained first aider