Grant holder
Harriet Menter, Scotswood Natural Community Garden and Lucy Tiplady, University of Newcastle
Project status

The Froebel Trust supported Scotswood Garden to run a two year forest school project based in their community garden supporting young children in their local area.

A project which centres on child led exploration of nature and play using regular outdoor sessions, which was evaluated by Newcastle University.

Scotswood Natural Community Garden, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Established in 1995, Scotswood Garden is much more than a community garden. It is an award winning, longstanding environmental and community organisation and Local Wildlife Site based in the heart of a local neighbourhood which is in the highest 10% for income, health, education, employment and crime deprivation in the UK. The 2.5 acre natural, wild garden boasts two wildflower meadows, heritage orchards, beautiful woodland, two ponds and one of the oldest Forest Gardens in the country.

Scotswood provide a range of education, training, health and wellbeing services from their beautiful site for people aged 0-90. They use nature based interventions which are proven to support people to gain new skills, inspire creativity, improve mental and physical health and strengthen relationships.

Scotswood is a registered training provider and delivers forest school leadership training for education staff. Their longstanding and successful youth programme provides nature based weekly sessions for young people ages 5-25 and a weekly Little Diggers group for under 5s in partnership with Sure Start.

Scotswood's volunteering programme supports local adults who look after the garden, gain new skills and accredited training and make friends. They offer social and therapeutic horticulture to people with mental health problems and older people living with dementia. They also run regular community events and outreach to engage all members of the local community and improve the environment in their area. Scotswood's programmes are inclusive and are accessed by children and adults with a wide range of additional needs.

Scotswood is the leading Forest School Provider in the North East, a LAND ( Learning and Demonstration Site ) for the Permaculture Association.

Project summary

BREEZE Forest School has Froebelian principles at its core. The project centres on child led exploration of nature and play using regular outdoor sessions. Children and young people explore their own interests and lead the learning. Sessions typically include bushcraft (for example fire lighting, den making, tree climbing, and using tools for whittling and making wooden objects, arts and crafts) and nature-based games, to develop creativity and support learning and development.

To discover the relevance of Froebelian principles and their association with outcomes for children from three of the schools involved, read the final (2022) report below.

The project was evaluated by Newcastle University who co-constructed a Theory of Change with all participants.

A full report (123 pages) and Executive Summary are available on the Scotswood website.

The work provides an assessment of the BREEZE Forest School project work as a whole. which was supported by several organisations, including the Froebel Trust.

Want to know more?

Read Harriet Menter's article with tips for setting up Forest School

BREEZE Forest School at Scotswood Final Report 2022