Forest School - Code of Conduct

Entering the Forest

We enter the forest respectfully and know that when at Forest School specific expectations are in place.  We will explore, investigate, learn and play in a manner that will not damage our forest environment. We understand that we share our Forest School with plants, insects and animals and that when we are in our Forest School we are sharing the environment with them.  We respect each other and agree to abide by the Forest School rules;

  •          I will be gentle
  •          I will be kind
  •          I will try my best
  •          I will be honest
  •          I will listen to others
  •          I will look after living things


Before each session begins, children are made aware of how far that they can explore and of any fixed boundary markers (eg blue rope).  If children move to explore hidden areas an adult should also move into the cover deep enough to be able to see the children but allowing the children the freedom to explore independently.  If you lose sight of a child shout ‘1,2 ,3 where are you?’ The children have been taught to respond ‘1, 2,3 I’m here’ through classroom games that are practised regularly.  (see site risk assessment document )

Lighting a Fire

When lightening a fire, the Forest School leader will take control of the operation and all accompanying adults will be briefed before starting.  A lit fire will not be left unattended at any point.  A fire may not be lit until it has been confirmed to all that our fire safety equipment is in place along with fire emergency first aid kit.  Open fires will be built within the designated fire area/square.  (see fire risk assessment)

At the Fire Circle

An open fire will be lit within a fire square.  A fire circle using log sitting stools may be established around the perimeter, 2m from the fire square.  No one may enter the fire circle perimeter unless invited to do so by an adult.  There is no running past the fire circle.  No items must be carried and placed within the fire circle unless by an adult.  If you wish to move around the fire to a new stool you must step out of the circle and walk around the outside of the log circle.  Even when the fire is unlit we will treat it as if it is lit.  (see fore risk assessment)

Using Tools

All tools have their own clear code of conduct for correct use which will include consideration of specific personal protective equipment, correct use of a specific body posture, and consideration of the appropriate types of activity that each tool may be used for. (see tool use guides and risk assessment)

Picking up and playing with sticks

Children can carry sticks shorter than their arm’s length but are encouraged to think about how close they are to other children.  Longer sticks may be dragged or carried with the help of another person when each person is at either end.  Sticks must not be thrown.  Sticks must not be pulled from living trees, only from branches that have fallen from the trees.  Sticks must not be used as weapons unless the children understand the rules of using the sticks as weapons.

Picking up and playing with stones

Stones may be picked up and transported (transportation schemas).  Children often like to make patterns and pictures with them.  Stones may not be thrown.  They may be dropped but thought must be given to whether it is safe to do so.


Digging large holes is not encouraged.  Children mat carefully move soil to look for insects and their habitats using lolly pop sticks, fingers or small sticks found within the forest but deep holes should not be made. 

Collecting wood

Wood collecting for fire lighting purposes.  It is collected in four thicknesses – matchstick sized, pencil sized, thumb sized and wrist sized.  Sticks may be collected for creating pictures and patterns, but should be collected sparingly so as not to disrupt creature habitats.

Eating and drinking on site

Nil by mouth policy for anything found in the forest, unless this activity has been specifically planned for during the session (eg blackberry picking).  Children must be reminded not to put their fingers or hands in their mouths or noses.  When having drinks and snacks children will use wipes and soap/water to clean their hands before consumption. 

Rope and string use

We encourage the collection and transportation of materials.  Children are not permitted to tie each other up.  If a child wants erect a tarpaulin or a rope swing, an adult should support them as needed, modelling appropriate knot tying and modelling how to talk through ideas, suitable locations and decisions. 

Carrying and transporting materials

Children are encouraged to roll, lift, drag and to pull materials, either by using their hands or by using ropes.  We encourage safe lifting by bending our knees and keeping our back straight.  Safe lifting should always be modelled by adults.  Heavier objects should be rolled, lifted or carried by more people working together.  (safe lifting risk assessment)


Children are invited to use the toilets before we leave the school building.  School toilets are close enough for children to be taken to by a responsible adult in groups of no more than three at a time.  (Toileting Policy)

Tree Climbing

An adult must be present when wanting to climb trees in the forest school.  The ground cover should be checked for ‘sharp objects’ and the tree marked as suitable for climbing.  A visual check must be made for loose and rotten branches.  Children are permitted to explore to their own limits or to a maximum height of 1.5m.  Adults should be near enough to catch if a child should fall but far enough away to not be invasive to the children’s exploration.  (tree climbing risk assessment)

Leaving the site

It is important that the children understand the idea of ‘leave no trace’ as much as it reasonably possible.  Shelters should be taken down, imported materials need to be removed.  Very occasionally large items may be left between sessions.  All rubbish and toileting items must always be removed.  If artefacts have been found or made these may be taken off with the consent of an adult.