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Wilstead Primary School Learning for Life


Wilstead Forest School

Wilstead Forest School - Impact Review January 2024

Year 1 and Year 2 created a bug box

Year 3 - Cooking bread at Forest School

Floating and sinking at Forest School.

Creating 'God's eyes' at Forest School

Year 4 Created Christmas Decorations at Forest School

Forest School - Pupil Voice Review June 2023

Here are the great views and opinions shared by pupils from KS1 and 2 about our Forest School!


  • The best things are eating s’mores around campfires, building dens, finding the hidden animals.
  • We learned how to use our senses such as listening. We learned how to build dens out of different materials and use branches too. We found out the names of plants and birds and how they live. 
  • We’d really like to do more gardening. We’d like to grow strawberries, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins! We could make a garden just to plant things in.
  • Forest School helps us feel calm, happy and safe. 
  • I can try new things and I’m not worried. 
  • I like using my senses, especially listening. I like seeing the clouds outside and listening to the birds.
  • We’ve mostly been outside in summer this year, but I have done Forest school in winter too. I didn’t mind getting cold , it was still fun. Winter didn’t put me off!
  • It would be nice if we could go out of the school grounds to visit the woods more. 
  • More plant growing would be fun but you can’t really do that in winter.
  • Clearing the pond was really fun, that made me happy.
  • Building fires to keep warm and painting mud pictures on trees was my favourite bit. 
  • I’d like to build more bug hotels and bird nests. 
  • It taught me that it is better to work as a team. You can’t do so much on your own. It improves your relationships with others.
  • I learned to be more patient because I didn’t feel like I had to rush outside.
  • I like having the opportunity to try new things outside. Maybe because I felt more confident? 
  • I think people behave better, especially when the classrooms are warm and sticky. Even reading a book outside is better. You calm down when you are in nature.
  • Outside learning, like ordering numbers on the trim trail or finding puzzles is fun. Science is fun too - we are investigating how to make plants change colour at the moment. Some teachers like outside learning more than others!



September 2023 - Year 5's first FS session of the year!

September 2023 - Year 4's first FS session of the year!

Learning about safety around frozen water!

Enjoying exploring in Forest School

We put together, planted and are now caring for the plants in the triangle planter.

Creating and decorating a tent!

The lambs visited again! They were much bigger and their tails were shorter.

Feeding the lambs.

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Look at the lamb wagging it's tail!

Cooking popcorn over a campfire!

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Making a bird box!

Reception feeding the lambs

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Enjoying hot chocolate and eating smores round the Forest School fire!

Singing round the camp fire at Forest School

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We were so lucky to have Mr Hoath come and play his guitar and encourage the children to sing round the camp fire!

Another fun song to sing and dance to!

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Nature Art - Creating large sculptures Year 1 Art Topic

Year 1 Science - Signs of Autumn - We placed the leaves in the order we thought they had fallen from the tree!

An enormous caterpillar! (Pale Tussock...becomes a moth)

Fun learning at Forest School

Mrs Cropley's Level 3 Qualification

Mrs Cropley has passed her Level 3 Forest School Leadership Training. Here, she tells us a little about why Wilstead promotes the Forest School approach!


'As a society, we have become very disconnected with nature.  More and more time is spent indoors, on technology rather than exploring the world around us.  We buy our food from the supermarket and no longer spend time growing what we intend to eat.  This disconnection is having a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our society.  As a school and part of a farming community we believe that it is important for the children of Wilstead to reconnect with the natural world and we plan to use Forest School as a means to achieve this.' 

What is Forest School? Mrs Cropley explains...


'The idea of Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia in the 1980s, a country where an active outdoor lifestyle is embraced and embedded in society. In 1993 a group of nursery nurses from Somerset visited a Danish Forest School and witnessed first-hand the benefits to children’s well-being and development.  Research showed that ‘the children were far happier than children in urban kindergartens.  The children also demonstrated greater social capability, fewer days off sick, more ability to concentrate and better co-ordination than the city kindergarten children.’ The nursery nurses were so impressed with the ethos and approach that they were keen to develop their own programme.  This was when Forest Schools was first introduced to the UK.  Since then it has been recognised that this ‘outdoor’ approach to play and learning can have a huge impact on the normal development of all children.’


Forest School has now been introduced across most Educational Boroughs (including Bedford Borough). It receives support from the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Trusts.  Wilstead is situated in Marston Vale, and their Forest Centre education team recently came and planted trees with our children in the school grounds.  The Forest School Association have a Facebook page and there are several supportive Forest School Facebook groups to join enabling networking, sharing of best practice and ideas.


So what is Forest School? ‘Forest School is an outdoor educational experience, usually in a woodland area, that takes place regularly over an extended period of time led by a trained practitioner’ (Knight 2011).


Forest School allows children to problem solve and enables their self-discovery and growth in confidence. They can experience success, take risks, build relationships with others and challenge themselves in a safe and natural environment.  Each session is designed to be learner-centred and typically includes bush-craft; such as den making, using tools for whittling and making wooden objects, fire lighting, tree climbing, arts and crafts.


Participation in Forest Schools on a regular basis can help to improve the mental health, resilience and enjoyment of school for children and that this positive outcome also has an impact on increased attendance and educational outcomes for those involved.


And this is exactly why Wilstead is adopting this approach to learning!

Science and Outdoor Learning with the teaching team - September 2021


We welcomed in the new school year with an excellent CPD session for the teaching team, working with Primary Science and Outdoor Learning Consultant Helen Spring. Helen, who is an experienced teacher and author, joined us from her base in Yorkshire to talk about how we can bring the outdoors to our Science curriculum. The team had a lot of fun hunting bugs with their pooters and identifying them, building shelters using a range of natural materials and looking at opportunities in the curriculum for each year group. They even got to explore irreversible change by melting chocolate and marshmallows for s'mores!


If you would like to find out more about Helen's work, please check out her website on


The beautiful grounds at Wilstead
Reception enjoying a Forest School Session exploring and making Stickmen.

Forest School update - Summer 2021

End of Year Report by Mrs Ainsworth

Here’s a brief summary of our Forest School achievements this year!


Well! We started with a corner of the school grounds, an empty shed and an idea!...  We have survived sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds, flooding, torrential rain and baking sunshine, despite this, all groups of children have greatly enjoyed their time at Forest School and there’s barely been a single complaint about outdoor conditions.  Children throughout the school have had a chance to learn outside,  from the youngest Reception children making stickmen, to the oldest Year 6s  learning to use bow saws. Children have worked together to learn the skills of fire lighting, shelter building and tool use. They have co-operated and communicated well , with the Year 6s making some happy memories of their time at Wilstead Primary, despite the difficulties of this last year.


We have formed links with other community groups in the area – planting trees with Marston Vale Community Forest and sharing the site with the local Scouts. Many children also took part in the RSPB Great British Bird Watch in January.


The nature area has been planted with a greater variety of trees and plants which are useful educationally and which will also encourage different kinds wildlife into the site. The children have been involved in the planting and the Scouts are going to help with maintenance of the site.


We have supported the curriculum in other subjects - re-enacting the Great Fire of London with year 2  and aspects of the Mayan Civilisation with year 5.


We have purchased a wide variety of supplies and tools. There is now a shed full of useful equipment and some very keen children who want to use it. The children have had great fun and have been very engaged in all activities, they are interested and want to do more.


We have a Wilstead school member of staff half way through her Level 3 Forest School training and we ran an introductory training course for teachers and support staff, many of whom are now keen to do more outdoor education with their own classes.


With these firm foundations in place and the support and enthusiasm of staff and pupils,  hopefully Wilstead Forest School will go from strength to strength in the future.


Forest School Reports

December Working Party

In 2020, we began to develop our beautiful school grounds to enable us to begin offering Forest School and Outdoor Learning provision. Here are some photographs of the work in progress - keep any eye out for updates here!