Forest School in RPNS!
“If children grow up not knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it. If they don’t
understand it, they won’t protect it. And if they don’t protect it, who will?”
Sir David Attenborough, 2015
In October 2023, Ms Beardsley began a year-long training course in Forest School Leadership. We are hoping to
bring it into the school programme at RPNS to enhance the wellbeing, self development and learning of our pupils.
What is Forest School?
Forest School began in Scandinavia in the 1950s and became popular in the UK in the 1990s. It is an innovative
educational approach to outdoor learning and play. The philosophy of Forest School is to encourage and inspire
individuals through positive outdoor experiences.
The Department of Education and Skills and Túsla are now starting to recognise the importance and benefits of
supported risk-taking, play and outdoor child-led learning. In June 2023, Túsla issued a new guidance document
called “Where the Roof Is the Sky” to help early years services provide more outdoor learning opportunities and
risky or adventurous play.
How does Forest School work?
Established Forest School programmes run throughout the year, going to the woods in all weathers except for high
winds or during weather warnings. Children use full sized tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour - both physical
and social, establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self-motivated. Ideally sessions are at least
2.5 hours long, have a high ratio of adults to child, are regular (usually weekly) and take place in the same natural
woodland setting during at least three seasons of the year.
Many Irish schools already have Forest School embedded into their school programme and Ms Beardsley will be
contacting local schools with established programmes to get ideas, discuss practicalities and get guidance on
policies and procedures.
It is hoped that in the next school year 2024-2025, Rathfarnham Parish NS will roll out Forest School sessions for
some of the classes and build on this in the following years, increasing the number of classes involved. Ms
Beardsley will design, plan and run a six-session pilot scheme in the school towards the end of her training
course, possibly next autumn.
Forest School must have a high adult - child ratio to facilitate optimum benefit so, in time, we will be looking
for Garda-vetted parent volunteers to help run our outdoor sessions. The exact location is yet to be finalised. If you
are interested in nature and the outdoors, please keep this in mind for the next school year!