Inspire, Enrich, Achieve

Nature School

What is Nature School?

As a small rural primary school, we like to make the most of our surroundings which involves taking our learning outside as much as possible. We love to use the natural environment to support our learning and this has led to the development of Nature School.


Nature School is unique to Donington on Bain Primary School. It follows the principles of Forest School and is closely linked to the national curriculum. It is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning. Children have the opportunity to use tools, learn how to light a fire and cook on the campfire, build shelters and explore the outdoors in a safe and secure environment. They learn about the natural environment. They develop their knowledge of flora and fauna and how to care for both. They actively keep our school environment tidy, learn how to pond dip safely and experience all the elements throughout our ever-changing weather.


Please continue scrolling down this page to see pictures and read further information about this unique learning experience at our school.You can also see even more on our school Facebook page.


How does Nature School link to the curriculum?

We aim to give the children an educational experience that aims to develop confidence and self-esteem and motivate learners through hands on learning experiences in a woodland environment. However, throughout our Nature School sessions we do expect children to develop skills and knowledge which support other areas of the curriculum.

How do you assess Nature School? 


We assess the children's progress against the criteria outlined in our Curriculum map for nature School. This can be viewed below.


We are in the process of developing knowledge organisers for each year group and creating an award scheme which will be linked to the key knowledge found within the organisers. 

“It is argued that taking risks can have positive implications in terms of children’s developmental, social and emotional needs, as well as their overall health. By providing the opportunities for children to manage their own risks in a controlled environment, they will learn vital life skills needed for adulthood, and gain the experience needed to face the unpredictable nature of the world.” (Gill, 2007)

Where does Nature School take place?

Our outdoor classroom is within our beautiful school grounds. We have a field, woodland, an outdoor classroom, a purpose-built shelter and campfire area along with a pond the children can use for pond dipping. We have a mud-kitchen with pots and pans, a collection of natural logs and branches for natural dens and tarpaulin and rope for shelter building. We are fully equipped for all weathers therefore sessions take place outside unless the weather is inclement.

The beauty of an outdoor classroom is that it changes naturally, almost every day. One day the carpet is leaves, the next snow or mud. One day it is sheltered by leaves, the next winter sun is straining through the branches. Wildlife appears, sounds change as the wind blows and birds sing.

"Let nature be your teacher" William Wordsworth

Who teaches Nature School?


Mrs Smith is our Nature School Lead Teacher and she is helped by Mrs Braithwaite, Mrs Streatfield, Miss Goy and Miss Bate. Mrs Smith has completed Forest School training and has used this to develop and personalise the approach at Donington on Bain Primary school.

Why do we believe Nature School is important for our children?


 Research shows that children and young people are stimulated by the outdoors and typically experience an increase in their self-belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication and problem-solving skills and emotional well-being.Being outside has a calming effect on children and supports the development of good mental health.


It allows all children to achieve success with some excelling outdoors away from more formal learning in class. There are numerous social, physical, intellectual, communication, emotional and spiritual benefits.


Some of the benefits are listed below:

  • Exercise
  • Fresh air which can promote sleep.
  • Learning about boundaries.
  • Learning about safety when given freedom and when using tools, handling sticks, climbing trees
  • Develop skills- physical (when walking on uneven ground, tree climbing, log balancing) tools (when working alongside a qualified Forest School practitioner), tying knots for shelters and when making items such as picture frames.
  • Increased understanding of and contact with the natural world. Particularly regarding the seasons as we explore the ‘classroom’ each day throughout the year.
  • Sensory exploration of natural objects and the outdoors including the weather. Describing these experiences and what we see, hear, smell, feel and taste. Discussing changes each session.
  • Increased opportunity for imagination and creative development as we climb, build, create and explore.
  • Team building- songs, stories, collaborative activities such as den building, fire circle usage.
  • Respect- for living things in the environment such as worms, trees, birds. Listening to each other and other people’s ideas in games & activities.
  • Cooperative play using mud kitchen, dens, hide and seek, obstacle courses. Using language to explain our ideas, thoughts and feelings.

“The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves” Roald Dahl

What should my child wear for Nature School?


As the seasons change, so will the requirements for clothing. Children should bring their own waterproofs and wellies which are left in school but we do have some waterproofs and wellies the children can borrow if required.

In the summer your child will need thin clothing to protect legs and arms from scratches and sunburn, sun cream, insect repellent, sun hat and a water bottle. We may still wear wellies too.

In the winter, please also provide thermals, hat, scarf and gloves. An old coat is preferable as it may be worn on top of waterproof trousers.

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Children attend in all weathers, learning that getting wet can be fun, and getting too hot or too cold can be manged. The only concession to the elements is high winds in case of falling branches.

How do I know my child will be safe?


A risk assessment is carried out termly as well as prior to each session. There is a first aid kit in the outdoor classroom which contains everything we need in case of emergency. If having a fire we have fire gloves, a burns kit and additional water.

“In our bones we need the natural curves of hills, the scent of chapparal, the whisper of pines, the possibility of wildness. We require these patches of nature for our mental health and our spiritual resilience.” (Louv, 2006)

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein

Where can I find out more?

Please see our Facebook page and explore other pages of the website for more information about Nature School as well as lots of amazing photographs.