Pupils at Wave’s Torlands Academy have been swapping lessons in traditional classrooms for the chance to learn outdoors – thanks to the development of a new Forest School.


Created as a result of the generosity of a local landowner, who has given the school access to an area of woodland on the outskirts of Exeter, the recently opened Torlands Academy Forest School has seen pupils from years 8, 9 and 10 taking part in a range of activities based in the local landscape.  

Originating in Scandinavia in the 1950s as a way of learning about the natural world, Forest Schools are now an integral part of the Danish education system.  Introduced into the UK in early 1990’s, the forest schools movement has since grown from strength to strength.

“The aim of the Forest School programme is to provide a nurturing space that supports pupils’ wellbeing by providing and implementing positive outdoor, experiences in a natural setting” explained Assistant Head Nathan Gristy. “By creating a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try stuff out and take risks, forest schools help to develop pupils’ confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.”

While it is still early days, the Torlands Forest School is already proving popular with pupils and parents. 

Using the hammocks today has made my dream come true” said one Year10 pupil, with the parent of another pupil saying that they cannot thank the school and ‘tree hugger Nathan’ enough for helping their child to enjoy being outdoors.

With enthusiastic input from pupils at Torlands, the woodland site is being gradually developed to provide a venue for regular sessions where they can foster an understanding and respect for the environment.

Forest Schools are supported in the UK by the Forest School Association.  Further information is available at:https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/