top of page

about forest school 

Picture the scene: beautiful woodlands, crisp fresh air, a cosy camp-fire, rustling leaves, a gentle breeze, the birdsong chirping away as children play freely amongst the trees, climbing, digging, den-building, discovering, running, jumping… all while nature, in abundance, embraces
their hearts and minds.


You have just imagined Forest School, or, as we like to call it, ‘The best (outdoor) classroom in the world’.

Forest school is an outdoor nature-based learning experience that accommodates all children; from early years, primary schools, home educators and adolescents, it also supports young people with wide-ranging education requirements. It is a play-based, child-centred, socially minded practice which focuses on the holistic development of the child and is this adopted concept of outside learning that enriches our children’s education in so many ways and is a great support of mental health.

Forest School pedagogy has been around in Scandinavia for quite some time, but it was after World War Two that it became more recognised. During the 1950s in Scandinavia, the ‘Forest School’ concept was initiated; In Denmark ‘SkogsbØrnehaven’, which translates to Forest School,
Finland: Metsamoori and Sweden: Friluftsliv (free air life), Norway: Udeskole (Outdoor School) where it isn't unusual for children to spend the entire day outside playing and learning about the natural world.

The concept came to our shores in 1993 and was adopted by Bridgewter College; they were the forerunners to develop Forest School training, followed by Evesham College in 2000. There are cultural transference issues in how forest School fits into in UK education and life styles, but we can work with that!


If you want to understand a little more about Forest School, there is a 5 minute video to inspire you here:

Wild at Heart Learning’s inception was in the autumn of 2020. We recognised that us humans are a species that need the natural environment; and we are also very sociable species who mostly flourish in towns and cities. Technology continues to grow and has a cheeky tendency to side track us
from our natural environment, and that is where we become disconnected from the nature. Children are no different.


We wanted to provide a wonderful woodland where we can allow children (and grown-ups) to just be, reconnect with nature (forest bathe is necessary) and to ensure that every
child has the opportunity to get the very best out of the sessions and, in turn, receive all the benefits (both mentally and physically) that our forest school has to offer.

about wild at heart

The idea of setting up a Forest School came about when two like-minded friends, Gilly and Julia, were discussing their education ideologies over a cup of tea. We are both passionate about taking children outside to experience nature and to afford them the opportunities to explore and discover in order to reach their potential, as we did as kids; but that's something that now seems much more difficult to do.

We believe in allowing children space and time to discover their own learning, take risks and understand the value of play which is so often overlooked over the age of 4. And whilst chatting over several cups of tea, Wild at Heart Learning was born.

We have enhanced DBS checks, Outdoor First Aid and Food Hygiene certificates, and have completed training in practical woodland skills as part of our Forest School Leader training.
At Wild at Heart every child is treated as an individual so they get absolutely the most they can out of their experience.

Gilly has a degree in animal behaviour science and a PCGE and has taught land-based subjects for 20 years to learners aged 11 upwards, (along with puppy and dog training classes!). After her children started school she became even more aware how little freedom there is for kids in education and the terrible tick-box mentally was growing in her teaching job. She decided Forest school could be a way to offer learning in a way she felt was missing in mainstream education.

Gilly loves being outside, animals, climbing trees, drinking tea and trying to remember to free her inner child whilst being a busy grown up! She lives locally with her husband and three
daughters, a growing group of guinea pigs and currently a rag tag bunch of chickens!

Julia has worked in education for over 20 years and happily, qualified to be a primary school teacher at Canterbury Christ Church University in 2020 and is also a qualified Forest School
Leader Whilst undertaking her degree, Julia was offered a job in a school running their amazing forest school and it was such a fantastic experience that it changed the course of Julia’s teaching career and ideology!

Julia is a big fan of the Scandinavian ethos of educating children and short of upping sticks and moving to Finland, she did the next best thing and set up Wild at Heart Learning with
Gilly. She loves being outside, walking, photography, drinking tea and is totally bonkers about history and science. She lives with her partner, Neil, and their daughter, two gorgeous
labradors, two millipedes and one tiny hamster.

about us

Wild at Heart Learning-06.png
bottom of page