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

The Froebel Trust awarded Scotswood Garden with a grant 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 is being 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.

Scootswood 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. In 2017 they worked with 2612 people including 1510 children and young people who participated in forest schools and environmental education workshops with their schools.

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 has a 23 year track record of working with others to improve outcomes for the environment and people affected by poverty and currently successfully manage over 20 large and small grants from trusts and foundations as well as generating their own income through trading. 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 but 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.

Building on the success of our pilot, we aim to work with a relatively small number (90) of children from five different schools, and deliver a significant intervention. Through Forest School we aim to increase the children and young people’s emotional wellbeing, which research shows is essential to their engagement in learning.

The project is being evaluated by Newcastle University who are co-constructing a Theory of Change with all participants, highlighting the Froebelian principles embedded in the approach. Findings of this evaluation will be published in 2021 and shared widely.