We worked with Windmill Hill Primary School in Runcorn to
transform part of their school grounds into a woodland classroom
where children can learn new skills and gain confidence through
'Forest Schools' activities.
The school is situated in an area of deprivation with over half
of its children having some level of learning difficulties. Despite
those challenges, Windmill Hill Primary School is a highly
successful school, achieving an outstanding Ofsted report.
The school's ethos is dedicated to enhancing the education and
learning experiences of all the children. Groundwork has often
found that the environment and outdoor activity can be used to
motivate young people and teach skills in a way that the
traditional classroom environment cannot. We felt that the Forest
Schools approach could be highly beneficial to the school.
We worked with the school to bid for £30K from the People’s
Millions grants programme (run by the Big Lottery Fund, in
partnership with ITV). Viewers voted for our project and the school
won the grant.
Our landscape architects and project officers worked with
teachers, pupils, parents and the wider community to plan the new
grounds. They include a new outdoor performace area and classroom
space, woodland trails including interactive art features and
The new improved school grounds will allow the school to involve
the children in activities such as den building, treasure hunts
through nature trails, hide and seek, wood carving, environmental
arts, butterfly walks, bird watching, bug hunting, tree house
building and performing arts such as dance, drama and singing.
Children will work creatively with natural materials such as wood,
stone, bark, soil and willow. Outdoor skills will also be taught
such as den building, building fires and woodland crafts.
Future pupils will benefit from the orchard trees through
harvesting and eating the fruit. We hope that the grounds will
become a haven for wildlife after the installation of bat boxes,
bird boxes, insect houses and butterfly habitats.
Windmill Hill School is sited directly in front of Windmill Hill
Wood. The Woodland Trust has successfully been awarded a grant by
Natural England which will engage and encourage the local community
to appreciate and make full use of the woodland. Windmill Hill
School are working closely with The Woodland Trust to deliver
activities which complement the Forest School program on both
About Forest Schools
A Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor
play and learning. The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage
and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor
The Forest Schools approach has demonstrated success with
children, young people and adults who, through woodland activity,
learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most
importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and
co-operate with others. Students learn to use tools, play, learn
boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, grow in
confidence, self-esteem and motivation. The Forest School programme
has reduced truancy, anti social behaviour and raised academic