Since they started going to the Urban Outdoors Adventures in Nature after-school club in London in June, sisters Alia and Hana have used clay, learned about insects and made campfires, marmalade and bows and arrows. They are part of a wave of children across the UK who have joined forest schools since the pandemic began. Forest schools, which focus on unstructured play and exploration, arrived in the UK in 1993. Inspired by Scandinavian outdoors culture, sessions are usually held entirely or mostly outdoors. State schools are increasingly putting on forest school sessions during the school day because they are considered beneficial to mental and physical health, behavior and academic attainment – as well as being relatively “COVID-proof”.

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