Children at four Halton schools have taken part in a world-leading study about the benefits of Forest School.
Pupils from Windmill Hill Primary School, West Field Primary School, Farnworth Primary School and St Gerard's Primary School took part Forest School sessions across a period of twelve weeks as part of the study. During the sessions, they learned about nature and gained basic outdoors skills through a series of natural play activities.
Early findings indicate that children are significantly more active on days when they take part in a Forest School session than they would be on an ordinary school day. The level of activity both exceeds the NHS requirement of 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and is the same as a day that includes a P.E. lesson.
The children that took part in the sessions also said that they enjoyed the Forest School sessions and had been encouraged to spend more time outside as a result.
This study continues our work from previous Forest School research with Liverpool John Moores University (Ridgers et al, 2012). Due to its unique approach to data collection, this study is the largest of its kind, which means that its findings are at the cutting edge in this field.
Clare Austin is Research Assistant at The Mersey Forest and has been coordinating the research. She said: "The early findings from the children's study clearly show that during Forest School sessions, children are not only more active than they would be on an ordinary school day, but they also more than fulfil the NHS recommendation for daily physical activity.
"Given the national rise of childhood obesity, particularly in deprived areas, and the well-documented links between spending time outdoors and health and wellbeing, these are timely findings.
"The next step for us will be to publish the research in a peer-reviewed journal."
The studies form part of the Natural Health Service, a scheme run by a consortium of partners which seeks to embed the natural environment in health recommendations provided by health sector.