Behaviour at The Forest School

The Forest School promotes a Values Based Education and model respect, tolerance, trust and kindness. We talk about these values daily and it is an expectation that the children aim to practice these values while they attend The Forest School and ultimately, we hope they transfer these to other environments.

Our positive learning environment is achieved through the values modelled by the educators. We focus on and emphasise the right behaviours and appropriate language. This liberates educators and students from the stress of confrontational relationships.

We have high expectations that the children work on these values while they are here to maintain our philosophy around Values Based Education.

At The Forest School, we understand ‘challenging behaviour’ to be something someone does, NOT something someone is or has. This means under the right conditions we can help children develop di erent coping strategies.

We work together with the child/ren to deal with con ict and cope with emotions. The Forest School aims to facilitate and coach children to develop positive intrinsic strategies. We do not try to improve or change behaviour from an extrinsic or rewards based perspective.

The Forest School operate from a child-centred view, which means we approach situations and challenging behaviour on an individual basis. We do not have one model that all children must comply with. We are here to help participants work with their feelings and improve their emotional intelligence at whatever stage they are at.

The Forest School aims to:

  • Build self-esteem, independence, motivation to learn whilst always maintaining a safe environment.
  • Promote awareness, respect, care and empathy for other individuals and for the natural environment • Reinforce collaborative behaviour
  • Develop awareness of acceptable, responsible and kind behaviour
  • Develop in children, a pride in their own and others’ achievements

The Forest School Educator will:

  • Create a positive environment which encourages and reinforces caring, nurturing and acceptable behaviour towards one another, the environment and equipment
  • Provide opportunities for the children to have autonomy and opportunities to solve con ict without adult interference
  • Promote effective relationships in which all are accepted, valued and treated equally
  • Be mindful of the need to maintain safety at all times
  • Establish collaboratively with the children, clear standards of behaviour
  • Be a positive role model for all children and volunteers
  • Place the needs of the children, including needs linked to their preferred learning styles, social and behavioural needs at the centre of The Forest School planning to maximise individual success and raise self-esteem
  • Give special verbal feedback to children demonstrating acceptable, responsible and kind behaviour, cooperation, empathy and teamwork

The children, to the best of their abilities and with or without support will:

  • Listen respectfully and carefully and respond to instructions and requests, especially those concerning safety
  • Develop and maintain an empathetic and kind attitude towards one another, the environment and all equipment
  • Be encouraged to give their peers feedback on appropriate behaviour
  • Take ownership and responsibility for their own behaviour- (own their actions)
  • Ask for help and support when dealing with emotions and conflict

If a problem (behavioural or other) were to arise:

  • The Forest School Educator will observe and allow the child/ren autonomy and an opportunity to deal with the con ict and/or solve the issue without adult assistance
  • Try to re-engage the child/ren in the rst instance
  • Ask how the child/ren may be able to solve the conflict/issue- allow for some reflection
  • Support the child/ren in re ection and then facilitate a discussion using the talking stick
  • Ask questions: How could you work together on that? What could have you done di erently? Can you make a deal?
  • Support the child/ren in deciding on a solution to the problem

If a student displays extreme or harmful behaviour which is:

  • Deliberately against our philosophy of Values Based Education
  • Is unsafe or harmful (verbally, emotionally or physically) towards themselves or others
  • Behaves in a way that interferes with another child’s ability to learn or participate in the session
  • Prevents the educators from facilitating the session
  • Is ongoingly rude and/or refuses to participate in the session

1. You will be promptly noti ed by phone or the issue will be discussed at the end of the session. This will then be dealt with on a case by case scenario, in consultation with the parent/caregiver/emergency contact, with special behavioural and learning needs obviously being considered.

2. Where the behaviour is deemed to have been very unsafe, parents will be contacted immediately and the child will be immediately excluded from The Forest School session. The child will be unable to come to The Forest School the following week.

3. In all of the above cases, an incident report (in the red accident book) will be completed by The Forest School Educator. This policy is an active living document, it is reviewed every 3 years and is available on request.

The Forest School will not provide any partial refund if an immediate collection of the child is required. In extreme cases, The Forest School reserves the right to decline, suspend or terminate any student’s participation or enrolment.

Review schedule: Within 3 years



Rarely, but possibly, due to the special needs of some of our students and the way in which emotions and behaviours can escalate quickly; it is essential that staff make professional yet prompt and confident decisions to ensure that all children and staff are safe.

This includes the safety of a child who may be responding in an extreme, dangerous, aggressive or harmful way towards him/herself, other students, volunteers, visitors and staff.

If a child displays extreme, dangerous, aggressive or harmful behaviour that poses being harmful or at risk to themselves or others; the child may be required to be removed from the vicinity of others to ensure he/she is not able to hurt him/herself and/or other people.

If this situation were to arise, The Forest School staff on duty will consult the Lead Educator and/or Director and a collaborative decision will be made as quickly as possible to either: a) Remove the child b) Remove the rest of the group.

If the decision is made that the safest option is to physically remove the child displaying the behaviour; prior consent will be sought by the parents to do so.

If contact with parents or prior consent has not been possible and the child requires restraint or physical removal, to ensure the safety of themselves and others, this decision will be made collaboratively with at least one other professional staff member .

Physical removal or restraint will be done in a calm, non-aggressive and non confrontational way that ensures the safety and care of the child being removed is of utmost priority.

Two staff members will be present at all times and will record notes of the situation, actions, comments, concerns and resolution.

The child’s parents will be called immediately.
The child will be supervised by two staff members at all times.

The Forest School will always remain child focused and the welfare of the child is always of paramount importance.

The Forest School Child Protection Policy - updated October 2017

As outlined in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, Section 18 this policy is an active living document, it is reviewed every 3 years and is available on request.



Short Term Behaviour Support Unit, Denbighshire, 2005 – 2007

For 2 years, all pupils attending 10 week programmes at the Behaviour Support Unit also participated in Forest School one day a week, provided by Denbighshire Forest School. The private, secluded and nurturing environment of Warren Wood was so far removed from the classroom that immediately these children begin to relax and come into their own. DFS sta worked very closely with sta from the Unit to provide di erentiated activities for each pupil. All except a couple of the 50 or so pupils were keen to attend Forest School. Levels of aggression and violent outbursts were consistently lower in the woods than the classroom.

“Forest School has proved its worth and continues to be a tremendous asset to our curriculum. It is a challenging and positive experience for a group of youngsters who are failing in the classroom setting. It would be a tremendous loss to the service if this initiative was to fold and not be taken on board by the authority.”
“They have to overcome their instinctive negative reactions and they soon realise that to get result there is a necessity to interrelate, share problems and accept advice. The tasks required of them pose real life problems and produce a keen sense of achievement and feeling of worth.”

“It is felt by all involved that if at all possible the youngsters should be able to continue to access Forest School and build on skills learnt and continue to grow in con dence in an area where they know they can achieve.”
Louise Martindale, Teacher in Charge, Jan 2006


Challenging Behaviour Case Study #2

Anti Social Behaviour Unit, SNPT, 2005

The potential impact of Forest Schools in changing the lives of participants was keenly observed in an evaluation of Swansea Neath Port Talbot Forest Schools sessions with young people in contact with an anti social behaviour unit:

“Of 15 FS students 87% have either had a reduction in referrals or totally vanished from Anti- Social Behaviour Unit database since becoming involved in FS programme... many students have developed practical and social skills which have enabled them to re-engage in mainstream education... 31% were keen to return to the programme and take on a peer education role in the future... in a number of cases young people’s attendance at school improved.”