This week’s guest blog has been contributed by Sam, the founder of Rooted Forest School. It discusses his journey from setting up his business to training others to deliver their own Forest Schools. 

Rooted Forest School are a small rural business specialising in Forest School and Outdoor Learning delivery, training and development. They work with schools, nurseries and families across Herefordshire and further afield providing outdoor learning sessions, long term Forest School programmes, holiday clubs, birthday parties, school grounds development and training for adult practitioners. Their aim is to connect as many children as possible to the natural world around them and provide adults with the skills they need to access the huge learning potential of the great outdoors.

The story of Rooted Forest School is that of a business growing organically from small beginnings and a deeply held passion for the impact that a connection to nature can have on children. I founded Rooted Forest School in 2009 after completing my Forest School training in rural Herefordshire. For the first few years, the business was small, with one or two settings engaging in weekly Forest School sessions. During this time, I was able to put the theories learnt on my training into practice and start to observe some of the amazing effects the Forest School approach can have on children.

Forest School is defined as “an exciting and inspirational approach to learning giving children and young people the opportunity to participate in a series of sessions in a woodland or forest environment.” Over time, children are taken into the same natural, outdoor space and given opportunities for play, exploration and child-initiated learning. At first, the benefits of this approach were simply theoretical but over time, and with careful observation of the children, I began to notice developments in their self-esteem, confidence, physical skills and emotional literacy.

This realisation of the power of the Forest School model inspired the growth of Rooted Forest School, developing more and more connections with local schools, nurseries and special educational settings, running holiday clubs and after school sessions, birthday parties, a woodland parent and toddler session, residential woodland school trips and then progressing into Forest School training. This last development was guided by the belief that all children should benefit from the Forest School ethos and the desire to spread this pedagogy as far as possible.

Delivering training in both Forest School and more curriculum linked Outdoor Learning allows the Rooted Forest School team to share our passion for the benefits of a real and meaningful connection to nature with other practitioners from a wide range of settings, both locally in the UK and also in China, a key developing market for quality UK Forest School provision. Through our accredited training, we are able to guide and support settings to implement the Forest School approach in a sustainable way and ultimately benefit more children. This is our ultimate goal and underpins everything we do – children need nature, and if we value the future of our planet, nature needs children too!

Despite growing in size, we remain a truly rural business, based on the border between Herefordshire and Powys and believe that we have a unique insight into the needs of children here and around the world. All children need to engage with rural, natural environments, whether they live on a farm in rural Herefordshire or the middle of an urban metropolis in China! Our goal is to bring rural skills and a love of nature to every single child.

To find out more about Rooted Forest School, take a look at their website: www.rootedforestschool.co.uk

Rooted Forest School were a finalist in 2018/19’s Rural Business Awards in the Midlands. They were shortlisted in the Best Rural Education or Training Business category. To see our other finalists, or to find out the results, click here.

If you would like to contribute an article to the Rural Business Awards blog, please email amy@ruralbusinessawards.co.uk

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