Managment of Risk at Forest School
Managed risk taking is an integral part of Forest School. We can no more completely eliminate risks in Forest School, than in every other aspect of life, for example crossing the road, riding a bike or playing a contact sport like football or rugby. In our increasingly risk-averse society, children are being put in danger by not being allowed to push their physical limits and try new things, where they need to assess and manage their own safety. This can lead to unnecessary risk taking or a lack of understanding of their capabilities and the potential hazards of a certain situation. At Forest School, managed risk-taking is encouraged, after potential hazards are explained to children within a given activity and appropriate, but minimal, supervision is provided. This not only prepares the children for future hazard identification and risk management when an adult may not be around, but also develops their confidence and self esteem as they achieve success with challenging tasks. The abilities and confidence of participants will not be known initially, which is why more hazardous activities, like fire lighting and tool use, are never introduced in the early sessions and may well not be introduced at all, if the Forest School Leader feels that they cannot effectively manage the risks. Within the Risk Management and Health and Safety procedures is a detailed Emergency Plan and a site specific Evacuation Plan. The Forest School Leader carries all of the aforementioned documents on all Forest School sessions and other supporting adults present are made aware of them.