Forest School at Withymead

Withymead has been involved with the Oxfordshire Forest Schools Project since 2005.

An old orchard has been designated for the Forest School, providing a safe environment for the children to explore and learn about nature under the expert eyes of Kate Cheng.


The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through an innovative, long term, educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment. In short it is all about getting children outside and enjoying nature.

Forest School has its origins firmly in Scandinavia, in particular Demark, where it has always been a part of their education programme. It came to the UK about 20 years ago and has been spreading across the country every since.

The underlying principles are:

To inspire children, to introduce them to new opportunities and experiences in the natural world;

To provide a regular experience where children can explore freely and independently, increasing their confidence and raisins their self esteem;

To instil a feeling of belonging, respect and understanding of the world around them.


Forest School has been running at Wythmead since 2005. An area has been set aside to provide a special place for forest school. It comprises of a fenced area in the old orchard, a shelter, a sitting circle around a camp fire and a shed to store equipment. At present three classes aged 4/5yrs come every week, one pre school comes twice a week and a small group of older children aged 10/11 yrs. When the children arrive we meet in the shelter and chat about what we could do for that session. We often do an activity all together this could be anything from looking at the colourful leaves, searching for minibeasts to making a mud pie. Then we often have a snack outside. Then it is the children choice, they explore, play and have fun, the ideas they come up with are a real inspiration to me even after working with children outdoors for many many years. We hunt for mini-beasts, make a mud café, create art using natural materials, build shelters, find out how animals live. We sometimes have a fire which we have cooked on and of course we have toasted the odd marshmallow.

Kate Cheng

Main Picture - Cutting logs
Top Right - The Forest School Shelter
Middle Right - We shall have a fishy...
Bottom Right - Pirates AHOY!

Forest School

Forest School

Forest School