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Our OCNWM accredited course consists of 5 units:

  1. Forest School programme: practical skills
  2. Forest School programme: the woodland environment
  3. Forest School programme: learning and development
  4. Forest School programme: planning and preparation
  5. Forest School programme: delivery

Credit value: 18 credits
Guided Learning Hours: 96 hours
Total Qualification Time: 180 hours

Course content for each unit is listed below.



This unit focuses on the safe application of outdoor learning skills. It also covers safe processes for using natural materials for crafts and building within a Forest School context.

Topics covered include:

  • Tool use at Forest School: personal skills, tool procedures, storage and maintenance, protective equipment, learner centred processes for teaching safe tool use
  • Teaching and using appropriate knots and lashings
  • Shelter building: applying skills to construct temporary shelters
  • Fire lighting, safety and management: understanding fire preparation, safety procedures, campfire cooking techniques and fire extinguishing
  • Using natural resources – applying practical skills to make craft items from natural materials


2. forest school programme: the woodland environment  

This unit focuses on the skills needed to use the potential of woodlands effectively, safely and sensitively to support learning and development within a Forest School context.

Topics covered include:

  • Woodland ecology: understanding the history and ecosystems of woodlands
  • Woodland species identification and observation: considering the importance of understanding natural history for Forest School leaders
  • Sustainable management of woodland: considering historical and current management practices and how these may be relevant to Forest School


3. Forest School programme: LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

The philosophy of Forest School is rooted in learning theories, psychology and neural development. Its ethos is formed through a combination of the natural physical environment and a safe, open and trusting community created by the supporting adults. This unit covers some of the theoretical components that underpin the Forest School ethos.

Topics covered include:

  • Understanding the Forest School approach to learning: considering its benefits to participants and the role of the leader in facilitating this ethos
  • Learning theories: considering relevant learning theories and how they support the Forest School philosophy
  • The importance of holistic development and how it can be promoted at Forest School
  • The role and benefits of play at Forest School
  • The role and benefits of risk taking at Forest School
  • Self esteem and emotional intelligence: how these can be developed at Forest School and considering the role of the leader in this
  • Understanding factors which effect behaviour: considering neural development, self esteem and emotional development


4. Forest School programme: PLANNING & PREPARATION

This unit draws together the skills and understanding of the previous 3 units and combines them to consider how Forest School programmes are planned.

Topics covered include:

  • Forest School history and research – considering Forest School in the UK and locally and reviewing current research about it
  • Creating a Forest School handbook – containing all relevant policies and procedures required for the operating of the Forest School
  • Creating a communication strategy – to share aims and inform stakeholders
  • Monitoring & managing Ecological Impact – consider methods to observe the ongoing impact that Forest School has on the natural environment and how we can minimise our effects through proper management
  • Plan an initial programme of 6 Forest School sessions – based on learners needs and interests


5. Forest School programme: delivery

This unit follows on from the previous one and applies the theory to practice. It involves the practitioner leading their own Forest School programme and is a culmination of all prior work. 

Topics covered include:

  • Delivering and evaluating a minimum of 6 Forest School sessions
  • Showing how observations have informed future plans and taken account of learners needs and interests
  • Observing individual learners over time and evaluating impact



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Please be aware that there are several entry requirements for this course. These are listed below:

  • You have to be at least 21 years old
  • You need at least 2 years experience of working with groups (children, young people, adults) in a leadership capacity and/or a recognised qualification to level 2 at least in teaching, Forest School, childcare, play work, youth work or support work

Before you run your own programme you will also need:

  • Access to a group of children/young people/adults to run your 6 FS sessions with
  • Access to an appropriate site and permission to run a Forest School programme on it
  • A valid Outdoor First Aid training certificate. We can recommend providers
  • A valid DBS Certificate


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As part of the training programme, you will receive course materials, ongoing tutor support and online best practice examples and inspiration. The resources will be accessible through the Student Hub on The Hive website and will include: 

  • A reading list and electronic copies of all resources used during the training course
  • ‘Tutor on call’ days where our team will be available for catch-ups and to answer any question
  • Examples of best practice portfolios, activity ideas and general tips and advice drawn from our own practice


We recommend that before you commit to the level 3 training you make sure you understand the Forest School ethos to ensure it is the right approach for you. It may also be worthwhile to arrange to talk to or visit an existing Level 3 Forest School Practitioner to find out more about how Forest School can work in practice. 

Once you've booked your course with us, The Hive will provide you with a short list of suggested reads and activities to get you started!