Forest schools help children grow in confidence and skills

Supporting young people to engage with education

Scotswood Natural Community Garden helps engage young people who struggle in school

Scotswood Natural Community Garden has developed a unique approach to forest schools that supports young people struggling to engage in mainstream education. These children can struggle with social interactions, stress and anxiety and find it hard to process and make sense of what has happened or is happening to them.

There are several key principles which guide the success of this approach. Firstly, the children and young people decide how they spend their time, with adults in a supportive role. They found that a higher staff ratio of one adult to two or three children leads to a bigger impact on the young people. This enables them to support young people through challenges and enables adults to focus on supporting the young people to actively practice skills like perseverance, emotional regulation, empathy and compromise.

Enabling the young people to achieve positive outcomes for themselves contributes to the development of a positive self-narrative. Creating a fun, supportive environment and providing young people with exciting, achievable tasks allows them to succeed and build confidence, and develop new skills which support their learning back in the classroom.

This project supported weekly sessions for 73 children and young people (15 of whom were either in or had experienced care).