Research has recognised the benefits that a Forest School can offer children by enhancing mental and physical development, including increased academic achievement, improved memory function, fine motor skills, and behaviours, greater teamwork and social cooperation and reduced anxiety levels. Although unpublished, my own research found children who attended Forest School were more caring towards nature compared to children who did not attend Forest School. Perhaps more surprisingly, my research also found these feelings of care were more prevalent in the parents of Forest School children too, even after accounting for their attitudes prior to their children attending such activities, which suggest the children were influencing their parents’ attitudes as a form of successive transfer.
Connecting with nature in general has its own benefits to human health, including increasing life expectancy, lowering anti-social behaviour and even improving socio-economic standards. With such an emphasis on climate change and environmental damage, increasing our awareness and care for nature can only be a good thing, not only for the planet but also for ourselves.
And so we return to Great Rollright, and their patch of land situated down a quiet lane with beautiful views of the stunning Cotswold countryside. Previously used for sheep grazing, the field was mostly grass thick with thatch and a small clump of nettles. However, it did benefit from a thick, if not slightly overgrown hedge on one side, filled with mature ivy to provide nectar for bees and other insects and some brambles which would offer excellent blackberries in the autumn for the children to pick. A row of tall, high canopied conifers stood adjacent, providing shade from the sun but not blocking out the light and the site sloped gentle towards a traditional stone wall at the bottom.