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Case Studies > Local Forest School Activities

Dunecht Estates, Aberdeenshire


Case Study Local Forest School Activities Dunecht Estates, Aberdeenshire www.helpingithappen.co.uk
Case Study Local Forest School Activities Since autumn 2011, Dunecht Estates have been actively involved with the Forest School Initiative, a programme to help children and young people develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.

The project began in 2011 with Dunecht School, who were the first in the local area to show an interest in the outdoor initiative. They was allocated a mixed forestry area within the grounds of the Estate for the creation of their forest school, which is only a short walking distance from their school, giving the pupils light walking exercise before arriving at their outdoor school.

Echt School was the second local school to enquire about the creation of an outdoor school for their pupils, and Dunecht Estates were delighted to support them and agree with their request. The Echt outdoor school is based at North Kirton wood, a site chosen by three Echt pupils and two teachers, which again is a short walking distance from the School giving the pupils some light exercise before reaching their outdoor school.

During the creation of Echt Forest School, a third local school at Skene enquired about an area for their outdoor school. Again, this was readily agreed and a mixed forest plantation called the Half Mile Wood was set up for their outdoor school. As with the two other local schools, Skene have a short distance to walk giving the pupils some light exercise before reaching their outdoor school.

All three schools are fully engaged with the Forest School programme, with pupils enjoying the benefits from learning in these nearby outdoor natural environments. The three forest school areas have been vastly improved over the last few years, with Dunecht Estate staff members improving safe access to and from the forest school areas, creating safe areas for children to use, camp style log seating, and the safe use of a fire pit. All three local schools use their forest outdoor schools sites on a regular basis with all different ages being involved with this activity. The staff at Dunecht Estates also visit all three outdoor schools to pass on their knowledge and experience to these outdoor classes.

The Forest School was initially developed mainly with early years groups in mind, but over time has been enjoyed by groups of all ages. The relevance of Forest Schools today is stronger than ever, with a growing field of evidence exploring the benefits and increased awareness of the damage being done to children through lack of outdoor activity in natural settings. The technological and virtual development of our lives is forging a new disconnect between people and experiences in nature which in turn is causing parents and educators to push for more Forest School experiences for their children.
Scottish Land & Estates
Stuart House, Eskmills Business Park, Musselburgh, EH21 7PB

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