Some popular misconceptions about Forest School
"It is only 6-weeks long"
Forest School should be longer than 6-weeks and ideally is a year long programme with the same children/young people attending every week.
This 6-week misconception has arisen from the training requirement, as level 3 students have to prepare and run a 6-week FS Programme as part of their training. The 6-week programme should be seen as the start/an introduction of a longer term Forest School programme and it does not in anyway state that Forest School can only be 6-weeks long.
"It can be run on school grounds by a level 1 or level 2 Forest School trained adult"
The minimum requirement to run Forest School, both on school grounds and off-site in woodlands, is to have one member of staff with the level 3 Forest School Leader qualification.
The level 1 training is purely an introductory course into the concept of Forest School. This is good for helpers.
The level 2 training is for assistants at Forest School (they assist a level 3 FS leader). These assistants can provide much more in-depth help to the FS leader.
"It can be run with just one adult (level 3) working on their own with a group of learners"
Forest School has to be run by at least one level 3 FS leader together with one other competent adult (they can be trained in FS or not (such as a parent helper or volunteer).
This is for
safety reasons, in the event of an accident or emergency (one for dealing with accident, the other with the rest of the group)
and for child protection reasons (shouldn't work alone).
and it is also for Forest School reasons - to be able to work more in-depth with learners.
"It can be run along similar ratios as outdoor learning, with large groups and few adults"
In order for the FS leader and their assisting staff to work more in-depth with learners, small groups with a high staffing ratio is needed.
This is normally 1 adult to at most 5 learners (could be less dependent on needs of learners).
"It has to involve fire, tools and/or shelter building"
Forest School is a learning process which involves a huge array of experiences, activities, ideas, all of which are there to support the learners in their holistic development to build their confidence, resilience, independence and creativity.
Forest School does not need to have fire, nor shelter building, nor tool work to achieve this.
Fire, shelter building and tool work can be used if the level 3 FS leader can see the purpose for the learners in the FS sessions, helping them to progress with their learning and development.
"It uses potato peelers to scrape bark off sticks"
FSTC does not recommend the use of potato peelers for working with wood. Potato peelers are good at peeling vegetables and as such as the right tool for the purpose of preparing vegetables for a soup (great for cooking at Forest School). However for the task of scraping bark off sticks to be able to toast marshallows, the right tool for the job is a knife. Bark clogs the peeler up and fingers can get but in the removal of it. Also harder to get the right angle and peeler is often not sharp enough to do a good job. A sharp knife used properly, as taught at Forest School, is the best tool to scrape the bark of wood.