Children’s connections to nature and forest schools


BA (Hons) Adventure Education


I certify that the contents of this dissertation, which are not my own work, have been

identified according to author and source.

Children’s connections to nature and forest schools: Can

forest schools help foster an emotional connection to the



Stuart Danger Garbutt



I would like to thank all those involved in the Adventure Education department,

especially to the lecturers; Matt, Pete, Ed, Ian, Chris, Chris, John and Duncan, for all of

their kind words, wisdom, help and support over the past 4 years. A special thank you

also to Chris for all the help and guidance you have given me throughout this process.

Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend for all her encouragement and love; you are

my sun and my stars. To my family and friends thank you for all that you have done

including giving up your time to proof read this.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the schools, teachers and children, who helped

and participated in this study; I appreciate everything you have done to make this go as

smooth as possible.



Garbutt, S. D. (2013). Children’s connections to nature and forest schools: Can forest

schools help foster an emotional connection to the environment?

University of

Chichester – Undergraduate dissertation.

It has been widely theorised that in recent times we are losing our connections to nature.

The divorce from the natural world may have led to the global ecological crisis we are

facing at present. Many have warned that if we do not change the way we see our

relationship with nature, we will not be able to save the environment.

It is thought that before children and adults want to save the environment they

must love it first. Forest schools is a philosophy of outdoor education that provides

children with direct experiences in nature, through these experiences it is believed a

bond can form and this should be the first aim for any environmental education


Through a quantitative method, 219 children who participated in forest schools

and 249 who have not were measured for their connectedness to nature. It was found

that through participation in forest schools connectedness to nature was significantly

different F

(1,465) = 29.03, p = 0.000. A qualitative study found that children showed a

variety of values associated with environmental concern and kinship. The importance of

direct experiences in nature was emphasised by children as an important factor in

forming environmental concern.

This study suggests that participation in forest schools can go someway towards

increasing connections to nature, and fostering environmental concern. Therefore,

environmental courses should look to foster a love for the environment before they

expect children to want to look after it.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ..................................................................................... ii

Abstract ...................................................................................................... iii

Table of Contents ....................................................................................... iv

Chapter 1 - Introduction ............................................................................ 1

1.1 The current state of the environment ...................................................................... 2

1.2 The current state of environmental education ......................................................... 3

1.3 Children's connections to nature ............................................................................. 5

1.4 Aims of this research ............................................................................................... 7

Chapter 2 - Literature Review ................................................................... 8

2.1 Historical and evolutionary context for human – nature relationship ..................... 8

2.2 The child-nature relationship ................................................................................ 12

2.3 Measuring connectedness to nature ...................................................................... 16

2.4 Connectedness to nature through environmental education .................................. 19

2.5 The importance of this research ............................................................................ 20

Chapter 3 – Quantitative Method ........................................................... 22

3.1 Participants ............................................................................................................ 23

3.2 Consent .................................................................................................................. 24

3.3 Experimental design .............................................................................................. 24

3.4 Instrumentation ..................................................................................................... 24

3.5 Procedure ............................................................................................................... 25

3.6 Data analysis ......................................................................................................... 26

Chapter 4 – Results and Findings ............................................................ 27

4.1 Revised Connection to Nature Scale (CNS-R) ..................................................... 27

Chapter 5 – Qualitative Method .............................................................. 30

5.1 Participants ............................................................................................................ 30

5.2 Consent .................................................................................................................. 30

5.3 Interview protocol ................................................................................................. 31

5.4 Procedure ............................................................................................................... 31

5.5 Data analysis ......................................................................................................... 31

Chapter 6 – Qualitative Findings ............................................................ 33

6.1 Children’s expressions of aesthetic and humanistic valuing of nature ................. 34

6.2 Children’s expressions of scientific valuing of nature .......................................... 36

6.3 Children’s expressions of moralistic valuing of nature ......................................... 37

6.4 Children’s expressions of the naturalistic valuing of nature ................................. 38

Chapter 7 – Discussion ............................................................................. 41

7.1 Main findings of quantitative study ...................................................................... 41

7.2 Main findings of qualitative study ........................................................................ 42

7.3 Limitations of this study ........................................................................................ 44

7.4 Further research ..................................................................................................... 45

Chapter 8 – Conclusion ............................................................................ 47

Chapter 9 – References ............................................................................. 49


Appendix A – Ethical Approval ............................................................... 62

Appendix B – Consent Forms .................................................................. 67

Appendix C – Connectedness to Nature Scale – Revised ...................... 71

Appendix D – Completed Connectedness to Nature Scale – Revised .. 72

Appendix E – SPSS Output ...................................................................... 75

Appendix F – Transcript Interview 1 ...................................................... 80

Appendix G – Transcript Interview 2 ..................................................... 90

Appendix H – Published Pilot Study ....................................................... 99


Chapter 1 - Introduction

It has been widely theorised that in recent times we are losing our connection with the

natural world. This divorce may have led to a global ecological crisis where toxic waste,

industrial pollution, deforestation, destruction of wildlife habitat and loss of ecological

biodiversity are all too common. Humans’ expanding consumerism, greedy resource

demands and the ecological consequences of war have led us to this global crisis, but it

is also this loss of connection to the Earth that has allowed these difficulties to manifest.

As the American natural historian Stephen J. Gould (1993) wrote:

We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an

emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save

what we do not love.

How must this challenge be addressed? As the aforementioned quote declares,

humans must rebuild an emotional bond with the Earth, this means that the challenge

requires more than a series of lifestyle and technological changes and instead requires

humans to make a psychological change. A psychological change that Winter (1996)

defines as “a change in the way we behave, the way we see ourselves and the way we

see our relationships to nature”. By collectively changing the way in which we see

ourselves in relation to the environment, it may be possible to counter the problems we

are facing at this critical time and make a real difference to the Earth now, and in the



This piece of research is about our connections to nature; more specifically it is

concerned with children’s connections to nature. It will investigate a relatively new

form of outdoor education; forest schools and by using two methods of data collection,

investigate the extent to which a forest school programme may impact on a child’s

connection to nature and then what aspects of the particular programme nurtures this


1.1 The current state of the environment

It is important to first look at the current state of the environment to identify the

magnitude of the problems we are confronting. In the past few years we have witnessed

the human population rise to 7 billion people, in 50 years the population is predicted to

reach 10.5 billion. This will result in an increase in demand for space and resources of

which there is only a finite supply.

The fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO5), published by the United

Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2012, outlined that humans are collectively

exploiting the Earth’s resources at accelerating rates and intensities that surpass the

capacity of its systems to absorb wastes and neutralise the adverse effects on the

environment (UNEP, 2012). Such demands include competing demands for food, fuel,

and raw materials, which are intensifying pressures on the land (IPCC, 2001; Oreskes,

2004; Lambin and Meyfroidt, 2011). This exaggerated pressure on the land is causing

problems such as soil degradation, compaction, contamination of rivers and water

sources through pesticide use in agriculture (Arnell, 2004; Nicholls, 2004; Parry, 2004).

Each year 150,000 people die from climatic changes and 25 million are directly affected

(World Health Organisation, 2010) and predictions are that by 2050 global deaths will

rise to more than 300,000 and the numbers affected will exceed 150 million (IPCC,



The ecological problems too, are alarming; the Millennium Ecosystem Report

(2005) highlighted a substantial (10-30%) amount of the mammal, bird and amphibian

species that are threatened with extinction are due to human activity. If global

temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C then this number may rise to 70%. Because of

tropical deforestation, approximately 20,000, mostly insect species, will be eliminated

(Ziswiller, 1967; Wilson, 2002; MEAB, 2005).

The reports, statistics and findings available systematically allude to the same

conclusion; our impacts on the Earth are too demanding and it will take hundreds of

thousand of years to restore what is being damaged in the few decades since the

beginning of our industrialised processes. Clearly, these statements and figures are

alarming and since the 1970’s three conferences have called for ‘an unanimous accord

in the important role of environmental education in the preservation and improvement

of the world's environment, as well as in the sound and balanced development of the

world's communities’ (The Stockholm Declaration, 1972; The Belgrade Charter, 1975;

The Tbilisi Declaration, 1977).

1.2 The current state of environmental education

In the 1990’s environmental education was introduced into the English National

Curriculum as a cross curricular theme. Produced at the same time, the publication of

Curriculum Guidance 7: Environmental Education (NCC, 1990) outlined what

environmental education should look like; it provided a framework for teachers to use

and ways in which ideas could be used in the school curriculum (Chatzifotiou, 2006;

Cotton, 2006). The National Curriculum’s aim were to; encourage pupils to examine

and interpret the environment from a variety of perspectives; encourage active


participation in resolving environmental problems; and to provide opportunities to

acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment and skills needed to protect and

improve the environment (NCC, 1990, p. 3).

Several changes have taken place in relation to the national curriculum, in the

most recent revision (NCC, 1999) as part of the aims and values of the curriculum it

should ‘…develop [children’s] awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the

environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable

development at a personal, local, national and global level. It should also equip pupils as

consumers to make informed judgments and independent decisions and to understand

their responsibilities and rights’. The National Curriculum suggests certain points where

it is relevant to learn about the environment: exploration of science; the variety of

science; processes of life; human influences on the Earth; types and uses of materials;

explaining how materials behave; energy; the nature of science and, Earth atmosphere.

At present, UNESCO has designated 2005-2014 as the ‘decade for education for

sustainable development’. Many schools have dropped this term and the term

‘sustainable schools’ is more commonly used instead. The Department for Schools,

Children and Families (DfCSF) have published guidance and an action plan for schools

to successfully contribute to the UK’s sustainable development strategy, it also states

where the government aims to be by 2020. Yet, these documents only mention targets

and technological answers, not the psychological changes that Winter (1996) states are


Environmental education should include more than targets and ways to reduce,

recycle and reuse, it should also focus on the affective aspects of environmental

education. It should be beneficial for both humans and the environment: children have

the potential to learn and grow through experiences in the outdoors and children who


feel more connected with the environment have been found to be less likely to harm it

in the future (Shultz, 2002; Frantz and Mayer, 2004). The most appropriate educational

programmes in nature for young children should focus on fostering a love for nature;

global warming, emissions and polar ice caps melting are too abstract to comprehend at

a young age (White, 2001). Effective environmental education is a critical tool to

counter environmental problems (Potter 2010; Lieflander, Frohlich, Bogner and Shultz,


1.3 Children's connections to nature

Those who theorise about children’s loss of connection with nature cite a plethora of

reasons as to why this is happening; first, Clements (2004), Francis (1991) and Kytta

(2004) mention that there now exists a 'culture of fear' (strangers, traffic and injury)

where parents are wary of their children’s safety while playing outdoors; an increase in

the structure of children’s lives where spare time outside of school is filled with

organised extra curricular activities (Moore and Wong, 1997; White and Stoecklin,

1998); and there has also been a shift in culture from playing outside in an unstructured

style to playing indoors on video games and other home entertainment systems (Kellert,


Spending less time outdoors or spending that time in a contrived manner (in the

form of clubs or organised events), children are unable to have opportunities for direct

and spontaneous experiences with nature. Pyle (1993) calls this the ‘extinction of

experience,’ which may breed apathy towards environmental concerns. Kellert (2002)

declares society today has become ‘so estranged from its natural origins, it has failed to

recognise our species’ basic dependence on nature as a condition of growth and

development.’ Through direct experiences with nature in an uncontrived manner it is

believed a bond or connection can be forged.


The culture of childhood play has shifted from one outside to the majority of

time being spent indoors (Hart, 1999; Moore, 2004). As a result, children’s opportunity

for direct and spontaneous contact with nature is a diminishing experience of childhood

(Rivkin, 1990; Chawla, 1994; Kellert, 2002; Pyle, 2002; Kuo, 2003; Malone and

Tranter, 2004). Childhood and regular play in the outdoor natural world is no longer


Not only have the atmospheres in which children play dramatically changed in

the last few decades, but also the time they have to play has decreased. Between 1981

and 1997, the amount of time children aged 6 to 8 played decreased by 25%, from 15

hours a week to 11 hours and 10 minutes. During the same period, the time they spent

in school increased by almost 5 hours (Hofferth and Sandberg, 2000). Compared with

previous generations, less than 10% of children play in woodlands and countryside

compared to 40% of adults when they were the same age. (Hillman, Adams and

Whitelegg, 1990). Encouragingly, however, 81% of children surveyed would like more

freedom outdoors (Natural England, 2009).

Through regular contact and play in the natural world during early childhood

(along with positive environmental ethic) an affinity and love of nature is forged

(Chawla 1988; Pyle 1993; Wilson 1993). The loss of children’s regular contact with the

natural world can result in a biophobic future generation not interested in safeguarding

nature and its diversity (Bunting and Cousins, 1985; Chipeniuk, 1994; Sobel, 1996;

2002; 2004; Hart, 1997; Wilson, 1997, Kals, Schumacher and Montada, 1999; Moore

and Cosco, 2000; Fishman, 2001; Bixler, Floyd and Hummutt, 2002; Kals and Ittner,

2003; Schultz et al. 2004).


1.4 Aims of this research

The aim of this dissertation is to investigate to what extent does a forest schools

programme have on primary school aged children’s connectedness to nature. It will use

two methods to analyse this connectedness, first a questionnaire-based scale to

investigate any differences between those who participate in forest school and those

who do not. Further analysis will then take place and interviews will attempt to further

investigate the effects forest schools can have on children. Finally, the dissertation will

attempt to identify which aspects of forest schools foster love for the outdoors, which

may be useful in informing other environmental education or outdoor learning



Chapter 2 - Literature Review

The current state of research concerning forest schools is limited, due to the nascent of

the movement. However, there are many theories proposed to explain the child-nature

relationship and why this is important. Although there is a wide range of literature that

discusses this relationship, this literature review will focus on four themes found in the


The first of these themes is the historical and evolutionary context for the

human-nature relationship, which is an important element in first understanding why

nature is important for humans. The next theme will critically evaluate the literature

concerning the child-nature relationship as well as look at research using forest schools.

Following on from this, ways in which connectedness to nature can be measured will be

explored; identifying ways in which these connections can be reinforced as well as

evaluating the effect that they have. Last, the importance of this research will be

summarised. It will be obvious from the literature reviewed that there is a need to

conduct this study and the aims of this research.

2.1 Historical and evolutionary context for human – nature relationship

Before the invention of agriculture and civilisation nearly 10,000 years ago, humans

lived a hunter-gatherer life style for many hundreds of thousands of years. The human

body and brain evolved in a biological, not an artificial or human, constructed world

(Kellert, 2005). Humans’ adaptive responses to natural stimuli and events allowed

survival and reproductive success. It is believed that these behavioural responses

continue to be utilised by our evolved brains in modern times. The assumption is that


humans are pre-disposed to interact with the natural world, especially environments that

hold characteristics similar to the African savannahs that early humans first emerged.

Studies by Kaplan, Kaplan and Wednt (1972), Kaplan (1992) and Falk and

Balling (2009) show that humans show a preference to leafy-green trees with low

hanging branches, flowers and water sources. These researchers have suggested that due

to our evolutionary fondness for these qualities, which enabled our survival, security

and protection they have remained with us into the modern age. These characteristics

that were important in human survival were also important for our emotional wellbeing,

restoration and satisfaction, most importantly for this piece of research, the

environment has allowed humans functional adaptation and fitness through critical

thinking, problem solving, exploration, discovery and creativity in the natural world

(Kellert, 2005).

Biophilia was a term first used by Edward Wilson in 1984. The term was used to

define, “humans innate tendency to affiliate with natural things. Which was [


instrumental in humans physical, emotional and intellectual development, health and

well-being”. Our evolutionary connection to the natural world has been a theme of

writing by many ecologists (Muir, 1894; Leopold, 1949; Mumford, 1970) and ecopsychologists

(Roszak, 1993; Greenway, 2010). These writers have argued that our

connection to nature is an important factor in our willingness to act in an environmental

friendly fashion, often defined as our ecological behaviour (Axelrod and Lehman,

1993). Early research in the domain of biophilia, including humans’ connection to

nature has largely been anecdotal and seen by some as a being ‘romanticised’ in poetry

and travel writing and therefore lacking academic credibility (Kr

èøová, 2009).


The notion of biophilia has been explored by Kellert (1993) and summarised

into 9 basic values (Table 1) that form part of humans’ biological basis for affiliating

the natural world. These values are considered by Kellert as a cluster of learning rules,

which are benefits rather than biological instincts.

Table 1. Kellert’s 9 basic values of biophilia.

Name of


Definition of


Benefits Stage of





Urge to master

and control


Safety and protection; independence

and autonomy; the urge to explore

and confront the unknown; and

willingness to take risks; be

resourceful, and show courage



Avoidance, fear,

and rejection of


Avoiding harm and injury;

minimising risk and uncertainty; and

respect and awe for nature through

recognising its power to humble and




Material and


attraction of

natural world

Physical and material security; selfconfidence

and self-esteem through

demonstrating craft and skill in

nature; and recognition of human

physical dependence on natural

systems and processes




attraction and

appeal of nature

Perceiving order and organisation;

developing ideas of harmony,

balance and symmetry; and evoking

and stimulating curiosity,

imagination, and discovery



Strong affection

and emotional

attachment to


Developing intimacy,

companionship, trust, and capacities

for social relationship and affiliation;

and enhancing self-confidence and

self-esteem through giving,

receiving, and sharing affection




Nature’s role in

shaping and

assisting human


and thought

Classifying and labelling abilities;

language acquisition and counting;

resolution of difficult aspects of

psychosocial development through story

and fantasy; enhanced communication

and discourse through the use of

imagery and symbolism.



Empirical and

systematic study



of nature

Intellectual competence; critical

thinking; problem-solving abilities;

enhanced capacities for empirical

observation and analysis; and respect

and appreciation for natural process

and diversity

6-12 and 13-



Ethical and

spiritual affinity

for nature

Sense of underlying meaning, order

and purpose; the inclination to

protect and treat nature with kindness

and respect; and enhanced sociability

from shared moral and spiritual




Desire for close

contact and

immersion in


Inclination for exploration,

discovery, curiosity, inquisitiveness,

and imagination; enhanced selfconfidence

and self esteem by

demonstrating competence and

adaptability in nature; and greater

calm and coping capacities through

heightened temporal awareness and

spatial involvement


In Kellert’s own admission, the 9 biologically based values do not constitute

proof of the biophilia complex. But, put back into context of the human-nature

relationship, immersion in nature and fostering these biophilic values allows us to

develop positive ecological behaviour and attitudes, as well as providing us with a

platform for relaxation, exploration, discovery and fulfilment. Biophilia in humans is

considered to be a weak biological tendency to affiliate with nature (Kellert, 1997) and

although this connection operates deep within humans’ psyche (Dawkins, 1990), it must

be supported with positive experiences, learning and social support (Lumsden and


Wilson, 1983). Meaning that without proper facilitation, through support from parents,

peers and educators the positive ecological behaviour is unlikely to manifest.

Yet, with the rapidly changing world that children are growing up in, how are

they able to suppress this genetic disposition to associate with the natural world and

conform to an ever increasing socio political context of modern culture that places less

educational value on the child-nature relationship and more emphasis on a childclassroom

relationship (Cobb, 1977; Louv, 1991; Orr, 1993; Wells, 2000; Dyment,

2005; Kenny, 2009)?

2.2 The child-nature relationship

There is a plethora of research to suggest that being connected to nature has a great deal

of benefit for children, in the cognitive, affective and evaluistic domains (Cobb, 1977;

Kellert, 1997; Wilson, 1997; Wells, 2000; Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2002). Yet Louv

(2005) pronounces that modern childhood is going through a stage of ‘Nature Deficit

Disorder’, where the barriers to child-nature relationship are increasing in detriment to

their learning, development and well-being. In this piece of research I will try to argue

that it is not that children are experiencing less nature, but it is the experiences that they

are having in nature that is changing. Similar to what Pyle (1993) describes as the

extinction of experience, whereby modern society has eroded and impoverished

childhood opportunities for adequate contact with the natural world. Less time is being

spent directly experiencing nature and instead the paradigm has shifted towards indirect

and vicarious.


Table 2. Three levels of experiencing nature


The most important type of experience, especially during middle

childhood (6-12) (Sebba, 1991; Pyle, 1993; Kellert, 1997). Experiencing

nature in an un-contrived manner. Children are free to explore, question,

interact and spend as much time as they like doing so.


Children are exposed to nature, but not usually in an unstructured way

that allows play. There is often a time limit on the time spent

experiencing nature. The situations children experience nature is often

contrived. Examples of which are outdoor education programmes,

environmental programme, outdoor residential trips, and visits to zoos or



These experiences of nature usually include no contact with nature, but

instead children experience nature through, pictures, book, computer

programs, Internet or television.

Children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago (Kuo

and Sullivan, 2001; Burdette and Whitaker, 2005). Kahn and Kellert (2002) cite major

shifts in family traditions. A child’s free time is filled with after school clubs, extracurricular

activities, homework and other structured activities (Charles, Louv, Bodner

and Guns, 2008). All this results in less free time to play and experience nature directly.

Education at school also emphasises indirect and vicarious experiences of nature; school

trips to zoos, nature centres, natural history museums and outdoor programmes (Kellert


Although not expressed in any literature, this piece of research will regard forest

schools programmes as providing

direct experiences with nature rather than indirect or

vicarious. Justification for this is as follows (Knight, 2009) in table 3:


Table 3. Nine definitions that makes a forest school

The setting is not the usual


Forest schools happens outside and in an environment

that is flexible enough to allow for child initiated

learning. Woodland settings are predominantly used

as this allows children to be in direct contact with

nature (O’Brien and Murray, 2007).

The forest school is made as

safe as reasonably possible

to facilitate children’s risk


Children need challenge and excitement, Lindon

(1983) warns that if children’s play environment is

too safe and sanitised then they will either slump into

uninspired repetitive play or will look for other ways

to spice up their play.

Forest schools happens

over time

Unlike many outdoor educational activities, forest

schools happens regularly and often. Either once a

week or once a fortnight, for blocks of 6 weeks or

more. Forest school sessions usually last for a full

morning or afternoon. Maximising children’s

opportunity to directly experience a natural setting.

There is no such thing as

bad weather, only bad


Regardless of the weather forest schools goes ahead.

Experiencing nature in all weathers and seasons,

helps to develop children’s biophilia (Kellert, 2002)

Trust is central

For some the environment the children are entering is

unknown, it is vital that they are able to trust the

adults if the experience is to be a positive one. Vice

versa, children are given the freedom to explore and

interact with the environment sometimes alone and

therefore adults must trust those involved. The

sessions are always hands on and children are

encouraged to use all senses in their learning.

The learning is play based

and as far as possible, child

initiated and child led

Open ended play that is initiated by the children,

which allows children to follow their own

motivations. Holistic development, something that is

hard to achieve in a classroom is at the heart of forest

schools (Knight, 2009). This is the most important

facet in allowing children to experience nature


The blocks and the sessions

have beginning and ends

Each session usually starts and ends with a significant

event. The final session of a programme usually

recognizes the emotional and cognitive journey that

has gone on and it celebrated with a campfire or

parents being invited in.


The staffs are trained

Forest schools leaders go through an extensive

training course, where forest school leaders are

trained in the philosophy behind forest schools as

well as the educational power a woodland has. They

offer a positive role model who appreciates the

outdoors as a learning environment.

It is the unique mix of these factors that allows this researcher to confidently

justify that forest schools provides children with direct experiences with nature.

Forest schools can look completely diverse in different settings. There is no clearly

defined boundary but there is a common core. Forest schools is outdoor learning,

outdoor play, environmental education, personal and social development, exploration,

adventure education and more all rolled into one. A forest school leader will often

change their plans to suit the needs and wants of the children, and due to forest schools

being child-led, the sessions can often go off on a tangent following the children’s

motivations. Due to the nature of forest schools, no session is ever the same; one session

may involve learning to build fire, the next may involve stories and the next may follow

the children’s interests in finding mini-beasts. Therefore an early criticism exists for all

research involving any forest school, as it is hard to generalise the findings of the

studies to wider populations.

A wealth of research exists in the domain of environmental education

programmes and children’s connections to nature (Poortinga, Steg and Vlek, 2004;

Nisbet, Zelenski and Murphy, 2008; Ernst and Theimer, 2011; Krossack and Bogner,

2011), and in these studies the findings recommend that in order to foster environmental

education teachers must; integrate both the cognitive aspects and affective direct

experiences with nature (Milbrath, 1994); provide positive interactions while an

individual spends time in nature (Shultz, 2002); ensure direct experiences during middle

childhood (Wells and Lekies, 2006) and that more engaging hands on environmental


education where there is adequate time to experience nature directly(Wells and Lekies,

2006), is all considered to individuals’ strength of inclusion.

Forest schools aims to provide children with direct experiences with nature,

where they spend prolonged time outside, allowed to interact in a hands-on way and be

supported by trained professionals who have child development and environmental

education at their heart. It can be said, however, that forest schools occurs in a slightly

contrived manner; the children are brought to nature and introduced to forest schools by

adults, whereas a pure direct experience would involve children seeking out nature in

their own time and exploring unaided. In light of this, when forest schools is referred to

as a direct experience with nature, this is the author’s opinion and therefore must be

placed close to, but not at the end of, the continuum of mode of experience.

2.3 Measuring connectedness to nature

An aforementioned criticism of the biophilia hypothesis is that it lacks empirical

research; the majority of its support exists in form of anecdotal writing that could

perhaps be considered as too ‘romantic’ for experimental analysis. Kahn (1997) reminds

researchers that biophilia remains largely at this point a conjecture, a hypothesis, one

with problems, conceptually and empirically. In recent years a series of quantifiable

tools have been developed by researchers to measure individuals’ levels of feeling

connected to the natural world (Mayer and Frantz, 2004). At the time of writing there

exist at least 18 scales that aim to measure individuals’ connectedness to nature. The

following section of this literature review will focus on studies that used Mayer and

Frantz’s (2004) Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS).

Initial justification for the development of the CNS was to measure individuals’

levels of feeling emotionally connected to the natural world and to support


ecopsychologists contention that connection to nature is an important predictor of

ecological behaviour and subjective well-being (Mayer and Frantz, 2004). The initial

study by Mayer and Frantz used five readings to test the reliability of their measurement

tool. It was found that the scale was reliable and valid at predicting the emotional

attachment in people (young adults, from a variety of educational background, and a

variety of socioeconomic status’) has to nature. Their research also postulated that

connectedness to nature leads to concern for nature, as the CNS has also been shown to

relate to positive ecological behaviour, anti-consumerism, perspective-taking, and an

identity as an environmentalist. Furthermore, research by Shultz, Shriver, Tobanico and

Khazian (2004) provides support for the importance of measuring connectedness to

nature in individuals as they corroborate with Mayer and Frantz (2004) and conclude

that it is directly related to the types of attitudes that can develop.

The relationship between connectedness to nature and pro-environmental

behaviour has been extensively researched (Hungerford and Volk, 1990; Vaske and

Kobrin, 2001; Mayer and Frantz, 2004). It has been commonly found that in children,

younger children (9-10) scored higher compared to children aged 11-13 in a measure of

connectedness to nature (Lieflander, Frohlich, Bogner and Shultz, 2011). In the same

study, it was found that children who were considered to have a higher level of

academic achievement scored significantly higher than less-educated children. Two

potential causes were identified: (1) Children who were more academic able were

considered to be cognitively able to have wider perspectives on the values of nature and

others. (2) It was found that families with high levels of education watch less TV and

are more physically fit, spending more time in nature than families with lower levels of



Frantz, Mayer and Sallee (in press) have revised their original CNS and now

present the revised connectedness to nature scale (CNS-R), a 10-item scale designed for

use with children as young as ten. In four studies, the CNS-R is found to correlate

strongly with the original scale; it also has strong test-retest validity, responsive to

situational factors (age, schooling, socio-economic background) and the CNS-R most

important can be used with a variety of demographics.

An obvious criticism for the CNS and other similar measures of connectedness

to nature comes from Brügger, Kaiser and Roczen (2011) who

highlight the difficulties

in being able to grasp abstract concepts such as ‘inclusion of nature in one’s self’. Also

being able to reflect consciously on your own connection with nature and accurately

assess its magnitude is sometimes difficult. Some items in the CNS questionnaire such

as: ‘I am part of the greater circle of life’ requires some conscious thought and analysis

before answering. Furthermore, an individual’s perceived connectedness to nature is

probably even beyond their own conscious awareness (Schultz,

et al. 2004).

A second and direct criticism of the CNS and the CNS-R by Perrin and Benassi

(2009) is that the measures do not evaluate strongly emotionally charged attitudes

between participants’ positive feelings about the environment and themselves, or the

degree to which they identify personally with item content. It is important to understand

whether such attitudes predict environmental behaviour due to emotional content or

cognitive content. It would be expected to find that individuals who feel more

passionately about environmental issues would have a stronger emotional response to

the CNS.

Mayer and Frantz (2004) mention that a general perspective from their

development of the CNS is that if people feel more connected with nature they are less

likely to harm it. Although the research and writings suggest that feeling connected to


nature results in behaviour less likely to harm the environment, by being oblivious or

unaware of the effect their actions have on the environment, such as driving a ‘gas

guzzling’ car, then increasing this person’s feeling of being connected to nature in all

likelihood will have little if any impact on this person’s driving habits.

2.4 Connectedness to nature through environmental education

In many studies, it has been found that participation in environmental education

programmes significantly improved children’s connections to nature. The biggest

impacts were encounters the occurred before the age of 11, and that not only aim to

increase cognitive environmental knowledge but also pay attention to affective and

evaluative development of the children involved (Lieflander et al, (2011). Similar to


et al.’s recommendations, Ernst and Theimer (2011) suggest that if

environmental education programmes are attempting to increase connectedness to

nature then educators should provide positive experiences, allow for time for children to

directly experience nature and to be able to bond with it. Iozzi (1989) also alludes to the

importance of focusing on the affective domain, as significant research exists to suggest

that it is the key entry point to teaching and learning.

The importance of children’s connections with nature have been touched upon

briefly in this literature review, but the connection children have to the natural world is

important not only for their healthy development but also for the future of the

environment. In a society that is placing barriers between children and nature, children

are expected to be responsible for the natural environment later in life, but without the

proper formation of values in early childhood this will not happen. John Burroughs

(1919) cautioned that, “Knowledge without love will not stick. But if love comes first,

knowledge is sure to follow.”


Environmental education programmes that try to impart knowledge and

responsibility before children have been allowed to develop a loving relationship with

the natural world is an issue (Sobel, 1996; Wilson, 1997). Children’s emotional and

affective values of nature develop earlier than their abstract, logical and rational

perspectives (Kellert, 2002). Adults and educators need to allow children to develop

their biophilic valuing of nature, before they are expected to academically learn about

nature and become responsible (Olds, 2001; Sobel, 2008). Effective environmental

education is a critical tool to counter environmental problems outlined in the

introduction (Potter 2010; Lieflander et al 2011). Frantz, Mayer, Norton and Rock

(2005) posit that individuals who value and feel concern for the natural environment

will also want to protect it; similar beliefs are held by Nisbet, Zelenksi and Murphy


2.5 The importance of this research

As mentioned at the start of this literature review, the forest school movement and its

research are still very much in their infancy. By exploring the extent to which forest

schools affects children’s connectedness to nature will add support to the benefits of

forest schools.

Elsewhere, Kellert (1997) recommends that exploration into children’s

experiences in nature is limited and therefore further scientific study is needed to test

the relationship between direct experiences and the development of cognitive, affective

and evaluative spheres. Ernst and Theimer (2011) remind the reader that research into

influences on affective connections with nature is relatively new, with prior efforts

seeming to focus on influencing environmental behaviours rather than affective

connections. This research will look at a forest school programme whose aim is to


inspire and motivate through experiences outdoors rather than specifically increase

children pro-environmental behaviour.

Lastly, there are relatively few studies that suggest the most appropriate age to

develop connectedness to nature. Lieflander,

et al. (2012) recommend that further

research into levels of connectedness at different ages is useful in furthering what is

known about the child-nature relationship. Limited research suggests that contact with

the natural world, especially during middle childhood, occupies a surprisingly important

place in a child’s emotional responsiveness and receptivity (Kellert, 1983; Pyle, 1993;

Derr, 2002). What is not known yet is how important an environmental education

programme that looks like forest school is to the cultivation of early childhood

biophilia, or a love of living things and Burgess and Mayer-Smith (2011) suggest there

is a need to understand what developing biophilia looks like in children.

There is both practical and theoretical significance to a research study of this

nature. The potential gains from an investigation could inform future environmental

education programmes and also raise awareness about the potential forest schools has

for fostering the child-nature relationship that is so important for the environment’s

future success.

This study will investigate to what extent does a forest school programme have

on primary school aged children’s connectedness to nature. Using a quantitative method

to investigate the difference in children’s level of connectedness to nature between those

who have taken part in forest schools and those who have not, the method will also

show the gender differences as well as the change in connectedness to nature through

age 7 – 12. Using a semi-structured interview style a qualitative analysis of children

emerging biophilia will be investigated.


Chapter 3 – Quantitative Method

The extent to which forest schools foster children’s connectedness to nature has been

explored through a two-part study. Study 1 measured individual’s connectedness to

nature using children who have previously participated in a forest school programme

and those who have not. Study 2 then built upon study 1; it looked beyond numbers and

aimed to understand children’s perceptions of their time in a forest school. The

justification for conducting quantitative and qualitative studies was to give empirical

evidence for the child-nature relationship and then to investigate deeper children’s

thoughts and feelings on forest schools and to identify what emerging biophilia (if any)

looks like in children.

In a small, published pilot study by the researcher (Garbutt, 2013), it was found

that there was a variation in opinions between boys (N=17) and girls (N=14) aged 8-9

years old (Appendix H). Boys focused on the physical elements of a forest school

programme, recalling the purpose of forest school was to teach children ‘survival

skills’. If they were ever lost in the woods ‘they could identify trees, features and

navigate their way out’. Conversely, the girls’ perceptions of forest school was that its

purpose was to allow for ‘learning with nature’ and ‘about nature’ and the girls focused

on being able to ‘feel free’ in the outdoors. There was a stark contrast in the answers

given, the answers given; in the pilot study informed the need for some empirical

analysis as well as an in depth qualitative analysis of children’s answers.


3.1 Participants

The participants chosen for this study were children from West Sussex, who were aged

between 7 and 12 years old. N= 468, (229 boys and 239 girls) with an average age of

8.6 years old. 219 children from 3 primary schools were chosen for this study as they

were currently taking part or had done in the past year in a forest schools programme at

their school. 249 children from one primary school were also used to act as a control

group. These children have never previously taken part in a forest schools programme at

their school. They may have however taken part in environmental education

programmes or similar.

For the purpose of this study, children between the ages of 5 and 12 were

required who had participated in a forest schools programme previously. It was decided

that schools who have implemented forest schools as part of their curriculum would be

more suitable that those schools who had only used forest schools sporadically with

certain year groups.

Head teachers who were part of the Surrey and Sussex Forest Education

Initiative (FEI) were approached asking for their co-operation in this study. Of the 65

Table 4. Number of participants



Forest Schools 219

Non Forest Schools 249


Male 229

Female 239

Age (Years)

7 97

8 131

9 114

10 84

11 40

12 2


settings contacted, 10 replied and of those, only 3 were suitable matches for the study

that filled the criteria needed for the study.

3.2 Consent

Prior to data collection taking place, consent was obtained from parents / carers of the

children. There were no refusals from taking part in the research. Copies of consent

forms can be found in Appendix B.

3.3 Experimental design

Study 1 required a quantitative research design. A comparison of children’s

connectedness to nature scores who do and do not take part in forest schools will first be


Both groups of children were asked to fill in an identical questionnaire

(Appendix 1). Sex, age, and year group were recorded for each participant. These are

the independent variables used for analysis. Frantz, Mayer and Sallee (in press)’s 10

question revised connectedness to nature scale (CNS-R) was used.

3.4 Instrumentation

The Revised Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS-R) has been suggested as an

effective, reliable and validated tool for measuring a diverse demographic of peoples,

including children and adults (Frantz, Mayer and Sallee, in press). The CNS-R is a 10-

item scale that measures the extent to which individuals view themselves as being an

equal member of the natural world. It has been found an accurate measure of

individual’s pro-environmental behaviour.


The CNS-R is a 10-item Likert scale. The ten items are arranged using a 7 point

scale, where 1 = strongly agree, and 7 = strongly disagree. The CNS-R contained two

negatively worded items (Q4 and Q10) and was reverse coded prior to statistical

analysis. Examples of positive statements included: ‘I often feel a strong connection to

nature’ and ‘I feel that all living things in this world are connected, and I am a part of

that’. The CNS-R gave a one-factor result when added together.

The CNS-R is a relatively new measure and therefore, in order to display the

new scales reliability and construct validity, it is necessary to display the original scale

(CNS). Frantz, Mayer and Sellee report that the original CNS achieved a Cronbach’s

alpha score of .86 and the new revised CNS achieved a Cronbach’s alpha of .88. As the

CNS-R has only been used with children as young as 10, it is necessary to run a

Cronbach’s alpha for this dissertation as it aims to use children from 7 years old. A

Cronbach’s alpha of 0.79 was returned in reliability analysis.

Conventionally, a measure with alpha equal to or greater than 0.70 is reliable for

research purposes (Bland and Altman, 1997). This figure is supported by Kline (1993)

who identified .80 as a high correlation, whereas a correlation of .70 or more is

generally adequate for research purposes and often a criterion for publishing the

outcome measure.

3.5 Procedure

Contact was made with the Surrey and Sussex FEI cluster group. Of those schools that

replied it was identified that 3 were suitable for data collection. Schools that did not

offer a forest schools programme were approached separately and these schools were

also in the Surrey/ Sussex area. Parental consent was obtained prior to the data

collection-taking place (Appendix B). The researcher entered the classroom and

introduced himself, briefly explained why the data was being collected and then asked


the children to fill out the CNS-R. The majority of the children were able to fill out the

CNS-R unaided, but it was felt that some help would have to be given to Year 3.

Therefore the researcher read out each statement and asked children to clarify the

definitions to check for understanding. All children were asked to respond as accurately

and honestly as possible.

3.6 Data analysis

In order to examine the differences between the scores from the CNS-R for both

conditions statistical analysis must take place.

SPSS version 20.0 was used for statistical analysis. Descriptive statistics were

calculated for CNS-R scores in condition, year group and sex. To see if there is any

difference between scores on some variable a three-way Analysis of Variance

(ANOVA) was used to examine the effects of condition, gender and year on

connectedness to nature scores. A level of p< 0.05 was set for significance. Examples of

completed questionnaires and SPSS outputs can be found in Appendix D and E.


Chapter 4 – Results and Findings

This chapter is presented around the original quantitative research aims, which were to:

1. To investigate whether participating in a forest schools programme has any

effect on children’s connections to nature.

2. To investigate the interactions between taking part in forest schools and gender

3. To investigate the effect age may have on a child’s connection to nature.

4.1 Revised Connection to Nature Scale (CNS-R)

A three way ANOVA found significant differences in the main effects of condition (F



= 29.03, p = 0.000, ηρ2 = .061, power = 1.000). This suggests that an increased

connectedness to nature is present in the forest school condition (M = 55.39 ± 9.57 total

score) and non-forest school (M = 48.89 ± 12.91 total score). A significant difference

was also found between total scores between year groups (F

(1, 465) = 9.58, p = 0.000, ηρ2

= .060, power = .997). This suggests that a difference in connectedness occurs with age.

Cohen (1988) indicated that a partial eta squared of 0.060 constitutes an above

medium effect and defines it as a difference visible to the naked eye. In context, a

medium effect and a significant difference between conditions suggests that

participation in a forest school programme has the potential to raise children’s

connectedness to nature in such a way that may make it an effective style of

environmental education, this will be further examined in the discussion.

A significant interaction was found between condition x year F

(3,465) = 4.410, p

= .0.005,

ηρ2 = .029, power = .879. As can be seen in Table 5, students’ scores tend to


decline with age, suggesting that younger children feel more connected to nature than

their peers.

Table 5. Total scores means and standard deviations for condition x year group

Year Groups


3 4 5 6



N 74 73 43 29

M 57.75 54.02 58.77 47.8

SD 7.5 10.11 8.81 9.47

Non Forest


N 63 62 61 61

M 48.34 53.37 49.13 44.65

SD 14.18 12.37 11.87 11.79

Figure 1 illustrates the total scores for independent variables; it shows that there

is a downward trend in the scores with year group as seen in table 5. The error bars

show that there is a large variety in the scores given; smaller error bars may have

resulted in more significant differences between interactions in the ANOVA.

Figure 1 Total scores results for connectedness to nature scale - revised


A post hoc Bonferroni corrected t-test was used to investigate any significant

differences found between each year group in forest school condition only. A

comparison was run between year groups 3 and 4, 3 and 6 and 5 and 6. It was decided a

comparison between 3 and 5 would not be necessary as average total scores were very

similar (see table 5).

There was a significant difference in the total scores for Year 3 (M=57.75,

SD=7.50) and Year 4 (M=54.03, SD=10.11); t

(145) =2.541, p = 0.012. A significant

difference was also found between Year 3 (M=57.75, SD=7.50) and Year 6 (M=47.79,

SD=9.47); t

(101) =5.614, p = 0.000. Finally, a significant difference was found between

Year 5 (M=58.77, SD=8.81) and Year 6 (M=47.79, SD=9.47); t

(70)=5.028, p = 0.000.

Visible in Figure 1 and confirmed by the t-test, connectedness to nature scores seem to

decrease with age.

The statistical analysis shows only a small part of the story of this study. The

results from this statistical analysis and the pilot study will lead the way in study 2 by

informing the questions asked and informing the choice of participants.


Chapter 5 – Qualitative Method

The aim of the qualitative study was to further attempt to understand which aspects of

participating in a forest schools programme can impact on ones’ connectedness to

nature. In order to extend study 1, two groups from the same school consisting of six

and seven children who have taken part in forest school were chosen from the original

sample N=219. The quantitative analysis uncovered that there was significant

differences between year groups and therefore a decision was made to interview

children from the youngest and the oldest year groups.

5.1 Participants

Two groups of children were chosen; one group of six and one of seven. Children were

chosen on the basis of their total score from the CNS-R. Three children from Year 3 (2

boys, 1 girl) and three children from Year 5 (2 boys, 1 girl) made up the first group. The

second group was made up of three children from Year 3 (2 boys, 1 girl), one girl from

Year 4 and three girls from Year 5.

5.2 Consent

Letters (Appendix B) were sent out to those children specifically chosen to participate

in the interviews. There were no refusals from parents or children to participate in this

part of the study.


5.3 Interview protocol

The interview was semi-structured and orientated around three sections.

Informed by the pilot study’s interview design, the three sections are as follows: Nature;

its definitions and thoughts and feelings of it; Connection to nature; its definition and

ways to increase it; and Love for nature; what is meant by this and its importance to

children. The pilot study has primed the questions used in this section. The importance

of running a pilot study is highlighted by King and Horrocks (2010) as the pilot studies’

interview design will influence the implementation and sections chosen as part of the

main study. Wherever necessary, the interview guide was altered to be clearer and more

reliable and allow for deeper understanding or new perceptions that were not expected

prior to the interview.

5.4 Procedure

Group interviews took place in a small room in the school. It was thought that in this

environment children would feel familiar and be somewhere that King and Harrocks

(2010) suggest may allow for an increased willingness to talk at length. The two

interviews lasted approximately 40 minutes each. Interviews were recorded using a

video camera and notes were taken throughout. Before each interview, the children were

assured of their confidentiality and anonymity, as well as their right to withdraw at any

time (Kvale, 1996). During the interviews, a member of staff was present for

safeguarding practices, but was not involved in the interview process.

5.5 Data analysis

Similar to other qualitative research studies, the audio/video recordings were transcribed

and then used as a tool for analysing the interviews (Appendix F and G). After reading


and then re-reading each transcription and following Gibbs’ (2007) recommendations

on qualitative data analysis, descriptive codes were identified and then categorisation

was established, finally analytical codes were formed based on Kellert’s (1997) nine

values of biophilia. The coding was concept driven, relying on previously published

concepts, theories and issues to establish the narrative in the findings (King, 1998). In

order to establish which analytical codes would be worth discussing, a bar chart was

constructed to visualise relative importance of each value.

Kvale (1996) suggests that participants should have a role to play in the analysis

of formation of themes to reduce the bias of a single researcher; because of time

constraints and logistics this was deemed not to be possible.


Chapter 6 – Qualitative Findings

This chapter aims to extend study 1 and investigate what components of a forest school

programme increases children’s connections to nature. Following analytical coding of

the transcriptions from both interviews the relative importance (Gibbs, 2007) placed on

each biophilic value as well as the ages that each value is most prominent (Kellert and

Westervelt, 1983; Kellert, 1997), can be seen in figure 2.

Figure 2. The relative of importance each value as mentioned during interviews

From the interviews it was ascertained that children placed the majority of

significance on the aesthetic, humanistic, naturalistic, moralistic and scientific values of

biophilia. For the purpose of this study, it was decided that these five values would be

addressed, focusing on their importance in the formation of biophilia. Following this, a


short section will highlight the importance of direct experiences on the formation of

these five values.

6.1 Children’s expressions of aesthetic and humanistic valuing of nature

It was decided to discuss the aesthetic and humanistic values jointly; during analysis of

the transcriptions, these two themes were commonly coded together and are also often

discussed simultaneously in literature. In the majority of the children’s dialogues they

were used interchangeably. Aesthetics is defined as the physical appeal and beauty of

nature and a definition of the humanistic value refers to emotional attachment to aspects

of nature. Throughout the interviews children used dialogue that included liberal use of

the word ‘love’ and communicated emotional connections to nature, indicative of

emergent biophilia:

I love spending time outdoors. The other day we went to a place like Marley Common

[forest school site] and it was beautiful. It has crocus and snowdrops and daffodils.

F, Y4

I feel really relaxed in nature; I love the colours, and like to look at the flowers.

M, Y3

Throughout the interviews, there were more examples of related language. The

choice of language is suggestive of an emotional bond to nature. This is corroborated in

writings by Kellert (1996; 1997), Carson (1998) and in research by Barker (1968) and

Birney (1986). From an evolutionary point of view, appreciation of the aesthetics of

nature can be translated into an adaptive benefit of inspiration, harmony and security

(Kellert, 1997). When asked how children would explain forest schools to a stranger, a

conversation occurred that used an analogy, which displayed feelings of harmony and



Well it’s a bit like building a den really, first of all forest schools is just a lot of sticks

and you [don’t] really know what it is. Every time you go back to the woods and you do

forest schools you start to build your den around you and you add a new shape and it

begins to make a shape around you. I think that if someone saw what forest schools is

they would be like, this is a mess and it doesn’t really make much sense because it is a

bit everywhere.

F, Y5

Each stick is like a level…its like you put one stick on after you have done an activity

[and] you’re like I have done this level and now I can go up a level and if you go up the

top level and you put your last stick on and decorated it all…and now you’re connected

to nature because you have been more than once.

F, Y4

The analogy of forest schools being similar to constructing a den around the learner,

suggests children feel safe and secure after taking part in forest schools. The analogy

also suggests children understand that forest schools is complex and it is only until you

take part in it until you can make sense of the teaching and learning style.

The adaptive benefits of humanistic value of biophilia include bonding and

companionship with nature, this companionship is obvious in this transcript, when

asked about the important of all children experiencing forest schools:

I think that all children should experience forest school because it is much better to feel


with nature and be friends with nature, I have learnt new things about myself and


F, Y5

Most interesting is the choice of language, choosing to use the word

with evokes

strong feelings of companionship between this child and nature, being able to see nature


as a companion rather than an object would again suggest a strong humanistic value of

biophilia developing. This viewpoint suggests a cognitive shift in thinking about our

relationship with nature; which Winter (1996) was cited as saying was an essential step

in becoming environmentally responsible.

6.2 Children’s expressions of scientific valuing of nature

This value is defined at the systematic and empirical study of nature. During the coding

of the transcripts words like research, and its synonyms were all coded under the

scientific value. Children expressed the need to learn about flora and fauna for the

purpose of bonding with nature and that researching about natural things is one of the

first steps in its protection:

…if you know what one tree is, like, say I know what a Silver Birch is … you start to see

the difference between one tree and another, really.

F, Y4

The need for children to categorise, label and classify is an important step in

making sense of the world that they live in. The above quote shows the importance of

being able to acquire knowledge of their surroundings, but also being able to

comprehend, analyse and evaluate (Bloom, 1956) other facets of the natural world. This

opportunity to use the natural world for critical thinking and intellectual development

has been investigated by a plethora of authors (Chawla, 1988; Kahn, 1999; Kaplan and

Kaplan, 1989; Pyle, 1993; Sobel, 1993).

An important aspect of the scientific value is developing an ecological view of

nature, which is to emphasise the interdependence between species and habitats. Kellert

(1996) remarks that a developed scientific value is usually not evident in the average

person and is probably only fully developed, in keen observers. Some evidence of this


ecological understanding was found in the interviews, yet it was primitive in its

thinking, typically remarking on the relationships between large vertebrates (dogs,

rabbits, foxes and birds). Due to the informal child-led style of education used in forest

schools, perhaps this area is neglected, as children are more interested in these larger

more visible animals (macrofauna) and less concerned with invertebrates (microfauna).

6.3 Children’s expressions of moralistic valuing of nature

Defined as the spiritual reverence and ethical concern for the environment, which

includes the inclination to protect and treat nature with kindness and respect. The

majority of research suggests that the development of this value usually occurs between

the ages of 13-17 years old. Yet the relative importance placed on this value by the

children in this study may suggest that participation in a forest school programme

accelerates the establishment of this value in younger children. There were multiple

examples during the children’s narratives that demonstrated a strong moralistic value

towards the protection of the environment:

…you need to love [natural] stuff before you save it…

M, Y5

… if you have been there [forest schools] loads of times you are gonna know what you

can do and what you can’t do. It’s like the things you can’t do, is do not litter because

we would just be being a litter bug.

M, Y5

The importance of permanence in forming moralistic values was a common

occurrence in the interviews; children stated its prominence on numerous occasions in

forming close bonds and developing ethical concern for the environment:


[when you] go back to it each time, you know it really well and you get really close to


F, Y5

One of the dimensions of forest schools outlined by Knight (2009) that makes it

unique is that it takes place over time; children are able to return to the same place over

a period of (usually) 6 weeks. The longevity of the forest schools programme serves to

establish bonds between the children and the environment, allowing the maturation of

more abstract, conceptual and ethical reasoning about the natural world earlier than

postulated by Kellert (2002).

Following the formation of the aesthetic and humanistic values of biophilia, the

development of moralistic values corroborates with Stephen J. Gould’s quote used in

the opening of this piece of research: “… for we will not fight to save what we do not

love.” The establishment of these values in this order is an essential step in becoming

connected to nature and environmentally friendly.

6.4 Children’s expressions of the naturalistic valuing of nature

This value had the most relative importance placed upon it during the interviews; it is

defined as the direct experience and exploration of nature. When asked about the

importance of direct experiences with nature over more indirect or vicarious

experiences, children instantly understood that there was a difference in the types of

these experiences and the benefits that direct experiences like forest schools gave:

It makes you more comfortable in nature…it makes you really like to be there …

F, Y5


…it makes you want to look after it, because you get to find out lots of things about it

and then you really want to look after it.

M, Y5

Children mentioned the importance of senses during direct experiences, being

able to ‘

touch’, ‘listen’, ‘feel’ and ‘see’, were considered important ways of directly

experiencing nature. The desire for close contact and immersion in nature is suggestive

of the emergence of the naturalistic value of biophilia (Kellert, 1997). It can be

ascertained that children place great importance on the opportunity to directly

experience the natural world and often refer to its ability to foster environmental


There was a great variety in the responses given about the importance of direct

experiences on children. Interestingly the children gave clear and thoughtful examples

of how not being able to directly experience nature could result in apathy and disregard

for nature and the environment:

Yeah, in London you might not have any woods or nature, and you might only have the

odd park and it’s not the same and if you can’t explore nature you probably won’t

really grow up to be someone who cares for it.

M, Y5

The children clearly understand that without being able to directly experience

the natural world, a bond between self and nature will not materialise. During the

interviews, children shared their enjoyment and desire to ‘explore’ their natural

surroundings. This behaviour is representative of the naturalistic value of biophilia; it

fosters children’s natural curiosity and desire to discover. Kellert and Derr (1998) found

that in cultivating children’s naturalistic values, children’s self-confidence and self40

esteem are developed also. They go on to comment that opportunities to do this are rare

in modern society, therefore opportunities to do so should be capitalised upon.


Chapter 7 – Discussion

The purpose of this study was to investigate a relatively new form of environmental

education; forest schools, and to see what effect participation can have on a child’s

connection to nature. It has been said that if we want to save the environment then we

must change the way in which we see our relationships with nature; humans must first

learn to love nature before they are expected to want to take care of it. By capitalising

on our evolutionary tendency to affiliate with the natural world, it is believed that this

love can be fostered. The results of this study could influence the way in which any

course with environmental outcomes is designed, including those in schools, outdoor

activity centres and environmental education programmes.

7.1 Main findings of quantitative study

First, through a quantitative study that used a validated questionnaire designed to

measure children’s connections to nature, it was found that there was a significant

difference in the scores from children who had participated in a forest schools and those

who had not. The results from this part of the research provides support to the benefits

of forest schools and it also serves to suggest that contact with the natural world,

especially during middle childhood, occupies an important place in a child’s emotional

responsiveness and receptivity (Kellert, 1985; Pyle, 1993; Derr, 2002).

However, the statistical results that were acquired from this section of the

research suggest that there is a decline in connectedness reported by older children. It is

not clear why this occurs; it could be suggested that as children progress through their

school career and forest school becomes a common occurrence, less alignment with the


elements in the questionnaire is reported. Kellert and Westervelt (1983) found that older

children place less emphasis on the humanistic value of biophilia, this value is

associated with an emotional connection to nature. Explored in the literature review, the

revised connectedness to nature scale includes statements that may evoke an emotional

response and perhaps younger children were more receptive this, which may include

higher CNS-R scores.

An aspect that featured in the pilot study (Garbutt, 2013) was the difference

between boys’ and girls’ perceptions of forest school. There was no significant

difference found between genders in this part of the study and perhaps the use of a

questionnaire was too restrictive to emphasise any differences in the answers between


7.2 Main findings of qualitative study

Second, the qualitative study aimed to investigate the aspects of forest school

participation that made a difference to children’s connectedness. It has been

recommended that exploration into children’s experiences in nature is limited and

further study was needed to test the relationship between direct experiences and the

development of cognitive, affective and evaluative spheres (Kellert, 1997). Also,

research into influences on affective connections to nature is still in its infancy (Ernst

and Theimer, 2011) and is in need of further exploration. Using the qualitative

interviews with children, it can be said that forest school develops all three spheres

declared by Kellert (1997).

There are aspects of forest schools that allow the development of cognitive

domains; children are excited and eager to engage in ‘research’ of particular flora and

fauna that they experience. It allows the development of more complex intellectual


development, using Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of cognition, children in interviews gave

evidence of acquisition of knowledge and comprehension and progression to application

and evaluative thinking.

Through participation in a forest school the affective domain was largely

addressed. Children displayed an aesthetic attraction to their natural world, showing

preference of natural views over man-made views, as well as the formation of bonds

and companionship to the natural world. Iozzi (1989) suggests that there is significant

evidence to say that cultivation of the affective domain is the key entry point to learning

and teaching. This study corroborates with Iozzi and suggests that children who are able

to bond with the natural world first are motivated to want to learn about it after.

Lastly, evidence from interviews suggests that the evaluistic domain is

successfully supported during forest schools. The results suggest that there is relative

importance placed upon each of Kellert’s nine values of biophilia. Particular values of

nature have been said to be more or less prominent and different ages in children

(Kellert, 1996; Kellert and Westervelt, 1983) and then from this piece of research it can

be confirmed that this may be the case. However, contrary to the work by Kellert and

Westervelt (1983) from participating in a forest school, the maturation and development

of more sophisticated values earlier than expected. Figure 2 illustrates the early

formation of moralistic and naturalistic valuing of nature. As children are able to

directly experience their surroundings they are also able to construct more complex

understanding of ethical responsibilities, including morally acceptable and legitimate

treatment and behaviour.

The findings from the qualitative study alluded to the importance of direct

experiences over indirect or vicarious ones. Children understood that without direct


experiences a disregard for the environment may develop or a fear of the natural world

(biophobia) may occur.

7.3 Limitations of this study

Although the results from the quantitative and qualitative research suggest that forest

schools does have an effect on children’s connections to nature, it is not without its

limitations. The schools chosen for participation incidentally were located in rural parts

of the United Kingdom. Schools were situated in rural ‘leafy’ towns and villages, and

the findings may have been different from schools situated in urban towns or major


The schools that had chosen to use forest schools in their setting would have had

to make a conscious decision and place some worth in the forest schools philosophy and

presumably this matches also with their school philosophy. Therefore, similar values

that may have been emphasised in forest schools may also been instilled in normal

school life.

As noted in the literature review, as much as possible forest schools is child-led,

due to this there can be a huge variety in what any two sessions may look like. Some

leaders may emphasise the use of tool work and consequently higher utilitarian values

may have been uncovered in the results, some forest school sessions may have strong

environmental messages and some may not be as explicit. This is one of the biggest

criticisms of forest schools, yet it is also one of the huge benefits for children; the

freedom to engage in their own activities inspires and motivates children to develop

their own values associated with the environment.

Discussed earlier, the quantitative study found a decline in connectedness with

age, this was not obvious in the children’s answers in the qualitative study. Therefore, a


criticism of the qualitative section would be that choosing to conduct the interviews

with mixed age did not further inquiry into this area of study. It would be beyond the

scope of this study to be able to cater for this finding at present at it may be an aspect

that informs future research.

7.4 Further research

Initially it seemed advantageous to use mixed methods, but it was the qualitative study

that uncovered the most interesting results, further research should aim to use

qualitative methods to investigate children’s connections to nature. Allowing the

children freedom to discuss at length was found to be beneficial in this study and in the

pilot study.

As Ernst and Theimer (2011) inform, research into the influences on affective

connections with nature is relatively new and therefore any research looking further into

this will only add gravitas to the benefits of forging emotional connections.

Investigating the role of the affective domain in environmental education is important,

but it is also may prove worthwhile to investigate the affective domain’s influence on

academic success. As it has been said that the affective domain is a key point in

teaching and learning.

As the diminishing child-nature relationship receives more publicity, studies

such as this will be required to justify programmes such as forest schools and

environmental education. Not only for the environment’s benefit, but also for the wellbeing

of children. Through the qualitative method, it was concluded that children who

took part in forest schools placed worth on the aesthetic and humanistic values of

nature. As discussed, these values translate as companionship, peace, tranquillity and

feelings of security and trust, which can also impact positively on self-esteem.


Investigation into aesthetic and humanistic valuing of nature is therefore a worthwhile

domain of future research.

Further research may investigate the decline in connectedness reported later on

in children’s school careers, as well as further analysis into the difference between boys’

and girls’ perceptions of forest schools, which featured in the pilot study, the use of less

restrictive questionnaire and further qualitative study may uncover some noteworthy


Lastly, in an effort to inform and improve the current methods of environmental

education, research into forest schools participation on rural and urban children should

be explored. Children featured in this study are from rural backgrounds; it would be

useful to investigate if children from urban settings respond in the same way.


Chapter 8 – Conclusion

In previous evaluations of environmental education programmes, various researchers

have cautioned against trying to impart knowledge and responsibility on children before

they have first had the opportunity to develop a loving relationship with the natural. It

was found that during this study that children’s emotional and affective values emerge

and develop earlier than the abstract and rational perspectives often focused on during

environmental education lessons or courses. It was also found that as well as developing

the affective values, forest schools also allowed for early maturation of more complex

moralistic values of environmental concern.

The implications of this study may help to inform future environmental

education programmes, this study helps to highlight the importance of first developing

an emotional bond with nature through direct experiences with it. The philosophy of

forest schools is not one strictly of environmental education, but as a fortunate

consequence this has been shown to manifest. It is the unique mix of child-led, direct

experiences in nature with trained and qualified leaders who have child education close

the their heart, that helps build a happy and healthy connection to nature.

Yet, due to the relative nascent of the forest schools movement, it should be

noted that forest schools might not be the answer to our environmental problems.

Similar research into forest schools, children’s connections to nature and their effect on

environmental behaviour must take place, especially using children in urban

environments and environmentally deprived areas of the world. Forest schools takes

time; repeated visits are an essential part of what makes forest school special. For

programmes that are restricted by time constraints, such as weeklong or daylong

sessions, the structure of forest schools would probably be an unsuitable use of time.


An issue that was mentioned in the literature review was that even though a

strong connection to nature might be felt, it is not a true predictor of environmental

responsibility. Connectedness to nature does not translate as an awareness of habits such

as driving un-environmentally cars. This is an area that environmental education

programmes could highlight after this connectedness has been fostered.

In designing a successful environmental education programme adopting a

philosophy and style similar to forest schools may be an advantage, however it must be

noted that in order for this to occur it must be expected that some collateral damage of

nature must take place. The majorities of young children are egocentric and are simply

not aware of what their exploration and movements in nature might have, but through

repeated visits to natural places and development of their evolutionary tendency to

affiliate with nature they may grow up to be passionate and motivated to protect it.

Through this study it can be said that children who spend extended time in the

outdoors, directly experiencing nature can gain a plethora of benefits. Together with a

strong environmental ethic and child development, teachers, leaders and facilitators are

able to foster a strong love for nature. This love for nature might be what is needed to

change the way in which we see ourselves in relation to nature, and influence positive

ecological behaviour needed for the Earth’s existence.


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Appendix A – Ethical Approval


Application for Ethical Approval





all undergraduate (UG) studenb



form should be used by ALL undergraduate students who wish to undertake research under the name of



University of Chichester. Where a research project is being undertaken by a distinct group, one



may be submitted for the group and the names of those students involved listed. Failure to



this application for ethical apprcval may result in failure of the module. Please make sure



answers are clearly legible.







Danger Garbutt






what extent does Forest Schools promote the child-nature rclationship?




Adventure Education BA(Hons)




ln signing this document


I confirm that I have read and understood the nine research principles it contains; I

have completed all of


the writing tasks truthfully and to the best of my ability; and that I will use my best

endeavours to ensure


that I uphold these nine research principles in my research activity.



natu re(s ). ...5'[email protected]:b Lffi=.. .. . .. ..... ......



......6../...t!../ ..:."....... .

" tf


the research is a group proiect with a number of students working together or *paratety in accordance



a single research methodotogy, one application can be comptete forthe group.

Tutor declaration

ln signing this document


I affirm that I am content that this student's proposed research, as described in this



(and any necessary accompanying documentation) and by the student to me, has been

planned in such


a way as to ensure that the nine research principles it contains will be uphetd.



Application is Category A (Proceed) / B (submit to Ethical Approval Sub-group for consideration)

** (please delete as appropriate)


Form last updoted December 2077


Page 1 of5




Application for Ethical Approval




University of Chichester requires that all research undertaken by its undergraduate students be



in such a way that the nine principles outlined in this document are upheld. These principles

are in


keeping with the Ethical Policy Framework which is to be regarded as the definitive document to

guide ethical


approval. All undergraduate students undertaking research must carefully consider the

principles set out below and complete the writing tasks given in


the boxes below before contacting any

potential research participants.



writing tasks require details of what you, as an undergraduate student, plan to do in your own research.



is not enough to restate the principles or to simply write that you will conduct your research in



with the principles - you affirm this by the act of signing your name at the start of this

document. Asking you to completq the writing tasks


is intended to ensure that you have thought

carefully about.


and explained how you will in practice comply with, the nine ethical principles.

After completing the writing tasks,


you must sign the declaration at the end of this document and obtain the

signature of your tutor to confirm that the


tutor is content that the research may proceed and that it will do

so in


a manner consistent with the principles.



good textbooks on research skills/methods will contain guidance on research ethics and you should

consult these


as necessary. One useful source is Gregory. l. (2003) Efirbs in Research. London:




- if the study involves oarticipants each Application must be submitled alongside relevant

consent forms


and information letters/sheets. Templates are available. This documentation should be



numbered and dated.

Full guidance on the


Application process can be found at Appendix 2 and 5 in the Ethical Policy Framework.






write here a brief description of the research to be undertaken. Please include your research aims and

an overview of what you


will be doing. This should include information about your proposed methods of

data collection and analysis, and information about your proposed research participants



nseft bief description :



short questionnaire will be given to children Y3, Y4, Y5 and Y6. They will be asked fo



10 questions.

Afrer this quantitative data


is collected, a focus group of children will be interuiewed,



will last 41mins approx..



continues overleaf. Boxes can be expanded electronically.



lost updoted December 2077 Page 2 of 5




Application for Ethical Approval




ln the


conduct of their research, researchers must give the highest importance to the protection of the life,



digni$, self-esteem, integrity, right to selfdetermination, privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality of

personal information of


each participant within the research projecl



your research expose anyane involved (including you) to isk of physical harm or

anxiety or any other undesirable


psychological effect?




here any reasons why a breach of confidentiality or anonymity would be especially



to the rhferesfs of re*arch pafticipants or others. Descibe also what steps



will take to protect the confidentiality or anonym,ty of research pafticipants.



brcach of anonymity will not be damaging in anyway, all recordings of children will be kept



a secure hard drive and deleted afier the dissertation hand in date. All children will






research involve any deliberate deception or misleading of research pafticipants?







info m qach research



any of your research participanfs De under the age of 18?




here how consent will be obtained and how you will ensure rcsearch pafticipants are

as fully informed as possrb/e before they give


their consent to take part.



teachers will be contacted and /effers sent home to parents of those children involved,

they will


be told that they may withdnw their child from any part of the data collection.

Children will


be told exactly what the purpose of the rcsearch is.



last updated December 2077 Page 3 of 5




Application for Ethical Approval






research participants shall have the right to withdraw their consent to participate in the study at any time up

to and


during the study without reprisal. They will be able to withdraw their data up until a time specifted



the researcher, after such time the participant may not withdraw from the study. This is to allow the

researcher proceed


with data analysis and publication. This information must be clearly communicated to



participant at the outset of the study.

Explain here how


you will ensure that all research participants will be aware that they have

the right to withdraw


their consent.



in the letter to parents it will say that children have the chance to withdraw at any

time, I


will also remind the children before I administer their questionnaire.






research participants are entitled to receive feedback on the outcomes of the research.




Researchers must avoid, or declare, conflicts of interest.



there or might there be any conflicts of interest? (Eg are you proposing to collect data



research participants who are known to you and may feel obliged because of their

relationship with


you to withhold information from you?)



school group will know me, the other schools involved do not know me, but this should

not effect their


participation in any way.



welfare of animals used for research must be respected.



animals be used in any way in your research?





must observe


all legal and ethical requirements laid down by the University or other OoOies

laying down


such requirements.



here any legal requirements, or any particular ethical requirements not already

covered above,


that you judge ta be relevant to your rcsearch and how you will ensure



tho* requirements arc satisfied. ln particular, you should consider the

requirements of the Data


Protection Act (1998).




here how you will ensure that your research are aware of their

entitlement to feedback and what feedback will


be made available to them if they want to






school will be provided with copies if their resulfs if they wish and once the disseftation

is complete they will be invited


to bonow a hard apy to read.



last updated December 2077 Page 4 of 5




Application for Ethical Approval




Research methods


and results should, subject to

information. be ooen


to and debate.






must act with integrity, professionalism, faimess and equig in the conduct of their research and

the dissemination of


their results.



here any action you have identified that you will need to take,

you have descibed in the writing


fasks already completed above,



research in accordance with this pinciple-




and above things



ensure you conduct


BERA (2004)


Revised Ethical Guidelines for Education Research. Available from


uUfi les/guidelines/ethical . pdf



1. (2003) Ethics in Research. London: Continuum

[End of


Undergraduate Form E2]



confidentiality relation personal



is no writing fask associated with this principle but it is impoftant to bear in mind as you

write the report of your


research; you should aim to report honestly and as futly as



activities you undeftook in the conduct of vour research.

Working with research participants


under the age of 18 or vulnerable groups



who are capable of forming their own views should be granted the right to express their

views freely in


all matters affecting them, commensurate with their age and maturity. Children

should therefore


be facilitated to give fully informed consent. This should also apply in



contexts involving vulnerable young people and adults.

ln the


case of participants whose age, intellectual capability or other vulnerable circumstance may

limit the


e*ent to which they can be expected to understand or agree voluntarily to undertake



role, researchers must fully explore alternative ways in which they can be enabled to make



responses. ln such circumstances researchers must also seek the collaboration and



of those who act in guardianship (e.9. parents) or as 'responsible others' (i.e.

Headteachers or social workers).

Source: BERA


14 and 16




In essence, people


are entitled to know how and why their personal data is being stored, to what



it is being out and to whom it may be made available. Researchers must have

participants' permission


to disclose personal information to third parties and are required to

ensure that such parties are


permitted to have access to the information. They are also



independently to confirm the identity of such persons and must keep a record of such



Disclosure may be written, electronic, verbal or any visual means.

The Data


Protection Act also confers the right to private citizens to have access to any personal

data that


is stored in relation to them. Researchers seeking to exploit legal exclusions to these

rights must have a


clear justification for doing so.



must ensure that data is kept securely and that any form of publication, including



on the lnternet, does not directly or indirectly lead to a breach of agreed

confidentiality and anonymity.

Source: BERA



lost updated December 2077 Page 5 of 5


Appendix B – Consent Forms



Village Primary School

Updown Hill,


Haywards Heath, RH16 4GD



:01444 4567L5

[email protected] bolnorevilla


ge.w-sussex.sch. u k



bolnorevillage.w-sussex.sch. u k



October 2012

Dear Parents/Carers


of children in Year 3 and 4,



Conse[t Form for Pa.rthipation in FOREST SCHOOI RESEAREH

During next half


term, a student from the University of Chichester will be coming into the school to

conduct some


research for his dissertation.

The area


of interest is your child's experiences during Forest School, especially the level of

'connectedness' they feel


towards nature.



data collection will be in the form of one short questionnaire of 10 questions. This will be conducted



class or during your child's Forest Schooltime alongside schoolstaff.



child's participation is entirely voluntary and you or your child may withdraw at any time and have



resuhs of the participation returned. ln line with the University of Chichester's ethics policy all data is

anonymous and confidential.



is a chance that this student may return to the schoolto conduct some further Forest School



but we will let you know if this happens. lf you have any guestions or concerns please contact



student directly.




[email protected]

Adventure Education Department,



niversity of Chichester,



Lane, Chichester,



Sussex, PO19 6PE

lf you do not


\ /ish your child to take part ln this research please contact the school office during the first



after half term.







S Allen




takes a village to raise a child.'






cf i6st



Consent FonU fof Participadon in Research



autumn term, a studentfrom the Universip of Chichesterwill be



into the school to conduct some research for his dissertation.

The area of


interest is your child's experiences during Forest School fknown as



School at Camelsdale), especially the level of 'connectedness'they feel




The data collection


will be in the form of one short questionnaire of 10 questions.



will be conducted during class or during your child's Forest School time.

Your child's


participation is entirely voluntary, and you or your child may



at anytime and have the results of the participation returned. In line



the University of Chichestey's ethics poliry all data is anon5rmous and


There is


a chance that this student may return to the school to conduct some



research but you will be informed of this is necessary. At present if you



any questions or concerns you may contact the studeng

Stuart Garbutt

[email protected]

Adventure Education



University of Chichester,

College Lane,





PO19 5PE



the mean time, if you do not wish your child to take part in this study please



the school office, for the attention of Mrs. Cafter.

Yours Sincerely,

Stuart Garbutt









Cofmnt I"ofqr br,ParE$prffi lqlaseerch

During the autumn term,


a studrnt from the Universiiy of Chichester will be



into the school to conduct some research for his dissertation.

The area of


interest is your childt experiences during Forcst School, especially

the level of 'connectedness'they feel towards trature.

Previous research


has said that during middle childhood is the most irrportant



for children to directly experience nature and to be outside. It has been said

that experieneing nature in


a waythat is provided by Forest School is important

for children's


cognitivg emotional and values based developmenl ln this piece of



it will be investigated as to what extent does Forest School promotthe

child-nature relationship.

The data collection


will be in the form of one short questionnaire of 10 questions.



will be conducted during class.

Your child'$


participation is entirelyvoluntary, and you oryourchild may



at any time and have the results of the participation returned. In line



the Universigr of Chichester's ethics policy all data is anonymous and




is a chance that this student may return to the school to conduct sorne



research but you will be informed of this is necesrary. At present if you

have any questions


or con{erns you tnay contact the student;

Stuart Garbutt


Adyenture Education



University of


eh ichester,

Callege Lane,





PO19 5PE

In the mean


timg ifyou do not wish your child to take pan in this study please

tell the


school olfice.

Yours Sincerely,







wIt{DsoR DRM,




sussEx, Bill6 3sw







TEL. O1903 8S6757 - FAX O1903 856794

m a


i l: o f f i c e (0 s u m me rl e a. w - s u sss x.3c h. u k



Parents/Carers, TsJanuary 2013



ForID for Partlcipation in Resgarch

This Friday l1th


January a student from the University of Chichester will be coming into the



to conduct some research for his dissertation. The area of interest is your child's



of nature, especially the level of 'connectedness'they feel towards nature.

The data


collection will be in the form of one short guestionnaire of 10 questions. This will



conducted during class and should take no longer than 20 minutes.



child's participation is entirely voluntary and you or your child may withdraw at any



and have the results of the participation returned. ln line with the University of

Chicheste/s ethics


policy, all data is anonymous and confidential.



is a chance that this student may return to the school to conduct some further



but you will be informed of this if necessary. At present, if you have any questions



concerns you may contact the student:-

Stuart Garbutt

[email protected]



Education Department,

University of















the mean time, if you do not wish your child to take part in this study then please advise

the schooloffice.






K Strong



3-5 Leader



{ft 'r*iil ftv! rqtnlitt\ &.**'H3 ffiffimffiffi


Appendix C – Connectedness to Nature Scale – Revised

Connectedness to Nature Scale

Name: Boy / Girl Age:


Strongly Disagree Neutral



I often feel a strong connection to

nature 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I think of nature as a family that I

belong in. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I see myself as a part of the greater

circle of life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Humans are more important then

plants and animals. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I feel related to animals and plants 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I feel I belong to the Earth and that

the Earth belongs to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I feel that all living things in this

world are connected, and I am a part

of that. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

There is something that every living

thing shares. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Like the tree in the forest, I feel I

belong to nature. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

I don’t feel part of nature 1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Appendix D – Completed Connectedness to Nature Scale – Revised




















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Appendix E – SPSS Output


Between-Subjects Factors

Value Label N

Year 3.00




Sex 1.00


Condition 1.00






Male 228

Female 238

FS 219

NoFS 247

Descriptive Statistics

N Minimum Maximum Mean


Valid N (listwise)

466 7.00 12.00 8.6688 1.24998




Condition Sex Year

Mean N

FS Male 3.00





Female 3.00





Total 3.00





NoFS Male 3.00





Female 3.00





Total 3.00





56.2250 40 7.86256

53.3500 40 12.20036

56.8000 20 10.03992

49.5000 16 10.20457

54.4052 116 10.37135

59.5588 34 6.74286

54.8485 33 6.87896

60.4783 23 7.39699

45.6923 13 8.40024

56.5049 103 8.49207

57.7568 74 7.50855

54.0274 73 10.11046

58.7674 43 8.81513

47.7931 29 9.47319

55.3927 219 9.57017

49.7143 28 15.63675

50.0000 25 15.18223

48.9615 26 11.38589

44.7879 33 13.86488

48.1518 112 14.10080

47.2571 35 13.03015

55.6486 37 9.62120

49.2571 35 12.38676

44.5000 28 9.01645

49.5037 135 11.84280

48.3492 63 14.18104

53.3710 62 12.37426

49.1311 61 11.87361

44.6557 61 11.79532

48.8907 247 12.90617

53.5441 68 12.03903

Page 1






Appendix F – Transcript Interview 1

What do you think when I say the word nature? What is included in nature?

M, Y3 - Wild animals. foxes, deer, birds

Do you enjoy seeing those animals? Why?

M, Y3 – They are just like, fun to look at

Do you get to see any of those animals at WS?

M, Y3 – Sometimes you see birds flying around

M, Y5 – Sometimes you see foxes, and frogs, definitely frogs

M, Y3 – In the pond

F, Y3 – We rescued a robin

You rescued a robin?

F, Y3 – Yeah, it fell down fro the tree then it, it didn’t move so we wrapped it in a scarf,

and then, and then we put it in a box and then it flew away.

So, do you think that humans are responsible for looking after nature and animals?

M, Y5 – Yes, we are always caring for animals

OK, Do you think that humans are part of nature?

M, Y5 – Because we’re meat, aren’t we?

What sort of things do we do in nature that is similar to animals?

M, Y5 – Eat, obviously.

M, Y3 – Walk

M, Y5 – Make stuff like, ‘cause birds make their nests and we can make our dens

Do you make a lot of shelters in WS?

F, Y5 – In Marley Common we get to make lots!

M, Y5 – In the Marley Common group, that’s the one I’m in. We made, as we were

learning about Egypt, but not anymore we were told by the teacher as you’re learning

about Egypt take long sticks, er an Egyptian pyramid den, so everyone ran off and

started doing it, and then Maddie’s and Caitlin’s, didn’t really go to plan did it? (Turns

to Maddie)

F, Y5 – I didn’t do it with Caitlin.

M, Y5 – Didn’t you? I thought you did

F, Y5- No?

Why didn’t it go to plan?

M, Y5 – Well, they kept, it kept on falling over. Ours, well my one didn’t.

M, Y5 – That was Sylvie, Becky’s and Isobel’s

M, Y5- Oh yeah! Their one kept on, kept on falling over

So, do you think it is important that you get to make dens and things like that? Why?

M, Y5 – So…

M, Y3 – So nature can live in one, if you make a special one

Do you enjoy spending time in nature and in the outdoors?


All - Yes

M, Y5 – Definitely, I like it so much, Miss Gittins, calls me the hot chocolate master.

Don’t know why? It’s ‘cause I always make the hot chocolate with Miss Gittins. And

then she calls me the hot chocolate master

So, who else enjoys spending time outside? Why?

F, Y3 – I love lots, I love old bits like old tiles or sticks and stuff and create things with

leaves or clay or something

So you quite enjoy being arty outdoors?

F, Y3 – Yeah I made a school of little clay things with bits of nature

And, how does being outside make you feel?

F, Y5 – It’s much fun-ner than being inside ‘casue inside you have to do stuff like, learn

and outside you can do lots of things

Do you not think that you are learning by just being outside?

F, Y5 – Yeah, you are but it’s much fun-ner being outside

So, the learning is different perhaps?

All – Yes

M, Y5 were you going to say something?

M, Y5 – Yeah, when I’m out in nature, I’m not sure if any of you would feel it, but it’s

like, I feel like, all shaky because, erm, I always think do I, am I supposed to be here or

should I be over there with them and then I’m like, I go over there then I ask am I

allowed to go over there ‘cause I’m not sure if I’m aloud to go over there and they say

“Yes” and I’m like fine with it, just in case I’m not aloud over there. And then I’d get

lost, so

M, Y5 – There could be something evil

All – Laugh

Is there something scary about being outside?

M, Y5 – sometimes, when you are alone and you don’t know if you are allowed there,

once in Marley Common, me , Raff Anna, Jen and I think you were there James, I’m

not sure. We found a car there and its, it was being exploded and the car door stick,

stuck in the tree.

What do you think?

M, Y3 – I think its fun

What about it is fun?

M, Y3 – We get to make things

M, Y5 – We toast marshmallows

F, Y3 – We erm once, we made a rope swing and we made a rope bridge

M, Y5 – Oh yeah we did that in the secret garden

Have you learnt anything about working with others?

M, Y3 – Well, I have learnt that you need to let them uh, do what they want to do kind

of thing because in the classroom when you are working with someone you just focus


on what you have to do, but out there you can just when you are set a target you can do

that target, but you can also mess around and have fun, but in class you obviously cant

em do that because Mrs teacher would eek!

My study is about if directly experiencing nature is better than experiencing it in

another way. And by direct experience I mean things like wild school, where you are

out in nature and you’re getting muddy, you can do lots of things. An indirect

experience would be perhaps visiting a zoo –

M, Y5 - … learning about it in school?

Yeah, or visiting a zoo or an aquarium were you can see it (nature) but it not really real

is it?

F, Y3 – Because you cant really feel it can you?

Yes. And there is another way called vicarious experiences, and that’s through reading

books or looking on the Internet, because you can read all about the woods and the

trees, and animals. But you are not actually experiencing it. So, do you think that there

is a difference between all those three? And which one do you think is the most


M, Y5 – Going outside

So directly experiencing it? Why?

F, Y3 – Because then you can feel it

M, Y5 – because then you can look after the animals, and then for birds make them like

a little den thing so when they have their erm babies, as foxes always wanna come and

eat them babies if we have like a den thing, they are not sure if we are there because

foxes are scared of us, even more scared than we because we are scared of them, so

they’re not sure if we’re going to be or if birds are going to be in there, so they don’t, so

they wont go in there just in case if we’re in there, but its actually not, it’s the birds and

we don’t get harmed

How much should children or adults? Every day? Every month?

M, Y5 – If they feel connected they should do it every day

M, Y3 – A few times a month

M, Y5 - If they feel a little bit connected

F, Y3 – Every now and again

So not every day?

F, Y3 – Yep so maybe every two days or something. Because if you do it one day you

could leave it for a day and come back on the following day to see if it’s done any good

or if not

So, M, Y5 you said that if you are connected to nature you should do it every other day,

but what about children who are not connected to nature, how often should they

experience it?

M, Y3 – Well, a lot really, it will help you to think about stuff that you might not be

able to think about things if you were just in the classroom, like and learn about things

if you were like em the choices to make


F, Y3 – If you haven’t done nature then you should experience it because you might,

either you really like it or you don’t want to do it

What do you think people wont like about nature?

F, Y5 – Mmmm, I don’t know actually because most of it is actually good

So there are actually quite a lot of good things about nature? So you think that everyone

can benefit from nature? Even children that live in the middle of London?

F, Y5 – Mmm yea, it can get them away from people around them and get sometime on

their own?

Lovely, so you do you think it is a quite nice to be alone sometimes?

F, Y5 – Yes, its peace and quiet

M, Y5 – Another bad thing about nature, is stuff like stinging nettles

F, Y5 – True, and things like thistles

F, Y3 – And holly leaves

F, Y5 – If you have learnt about taking risks, well you know how to do it, safely

But because you have experienced all of these things and you have probably been stung

by them and scratched by them do you think that you are now more prepared now that

you have learnt about them at WS or do you think experiencing it directly has taught

you that?

M, Y5 – Probably both, because I have got a forest behind my house, because there is

like a fence at the back of my house and if you go like out of my back garden and

through the gate I’m already like straight away in the woods

M, Y5 – I can climb over the fence at the back of my garden and it’s like a forest

M, Y3 – Well you can just do things like you can do what you want and learn about if

you do them right

How does wild school let you experience nature? In what different ways can you

experience nature?

M, Y5 – Look around and see what you can do and find stuff –

M, Y3 – Listen

M, Y5 – Yep by listening to sounds

M, Y3 – See if you can hear like birds and if you are close enough one you can see it

and maybe learn about it and how it is doing it

Are there any type of games and activities that help you experience that make it easier

to experience nature?

All – Oh! Hands up

M, Y5 – Bat and Moth!

F, Y3 – There is a thing that is made out of wood pieces and there is a wood ball and

you swing it and it is a bit like bowling, like a skittle game.

M, Y5 – That’s good

Ok but you could just do that game inside or in the classroom but are there any games

or activities that really let you experience nature and help you or make you go out and


M, Y5 – Yea, bat and moth … explains the rules of bat and moth, you have to use your

litstening skills to help play the game


So there are certain games and activities that help you to understand how animals sense?

All - Yes

Do you think that there is a difference between people who spend a lot of time in nature

and those who don’t? At this school you wild school really really well and I love

coming here and taking a look, I work at a school back in Chichester where we don’t do

any wild school at all and children don’t get that opportunity to go outside and explore,

get muddy and do all that stuff

M, Y3 – They might do different things, have different thoughts of caring

M, Y3 – They might do like more learning in nature

Do you think that they would enjoy being outside more?

All - Yeah

M, Y5 – If they haven’t been outside as much they you might as well just get out and

have fun and do stuff which you cant do inside, so if you want to do something and you

cant do it inside you might as well just go to wild schools and do it all like WS. If you

wanna do it at home you can just ask your parents to take you to the woods

Do you think WS will have any affect on the children’s behaviour? Will they be better


M, Y5 – Well yeah, um technically

F, Y5 – They will be a bit more free so,

M, Y5 – Yeah, erm more room to do stuff that you cant do inside, because in Marley

Common you just have tonnes of space to anything

M, Y5 – Yeah because about the behaving thing, because if people haven’t been outside

as much they might just run into stuff and into stinging nettles

Do you think it is nice that you get to just run around and perhaps be a bit naughty to

find out your limits?

M, Y5 – Oh yes, but just not to go over the line

M, Y5 – When we were at the woods last term we had a rule where you couldn’t go past

the big trees

M, Y5 – Oh yea (agrees)

So do you think you get a certain amount of trust at WS so the teachers put a lot of trust

in you and you have got to ….

M, Y3 - You just gotta do it

M, Y5 – Because we were in a place in Marley Common then the people banned us

from doing it there so they built a fence in the way so we couldn’t go over there

M, Y5 – But in Y3 when we were doing WS and we didn’t know it was private property

M, Y5 – Yeah and then we found out

M, Y5 – And then they put a fence there and then we just got moved back 10 yards

M, Y5 – And we’re not allowed to um go into that property anymore because it’s not

our fault we just didn’t know that it was private property.

Ok, so we’re going to talk a little on about connections to nature. What do you think I

mean about connections to nature?

M, Y5 – that you feel like it is part of your family


What do you mean?

M, Y5 – Well if you like nature so much you always think it is part of your family but

really it isn’t but you just feel like it should be, you should be with it all the time,

because you have got loads of stuff to do and like you just love the nature so much you

cant help it, but you just keep going out each time it is available to you go out there and

you can have fun

That’s a really good answer. Does anyone agree? Or feel the same?

M, Y3 – Yea, the more you go out the more you like it even more

So do you think it is important to keep going back? To make that connection stronger?

All – Yep, yeah

So maybe, going to Marley Common once is not enough to make you feel really


M, Y5 – Because when you have actually gone in there its like you come back and it s

like ‘ohhh cant we just stay in there a little bit longer?’ then its like no if you like it so

much go home and come back in, because when you are at home you can stay as long as

you like because you don’t have to have anyone boss you around and you can just stay

there from as long as you want, but not all day and all night!

M, Y5 – Well why you have to go there loads of times its like if you go once you could

get lost and you wont know your way back, if you go loads of times you will know your

way back

So someone who is more connected to nature, do you think that they would be more or

less likely to be environmentally friendly? And do you know what I mean by that?

M, Y5 – So they don’t damage anything like they like it, they feel like they are

connected so they wont…

F, Y5 - …cut down trees

What was that 5?

F, Y5 – Cut down trees as much

M, Y5 – Like if they saw people with a chainsaw and they would be like coming to the

trees and you know when they have the spray zone so they know have to cut down that

tree. If they like it so much they would go up to them and say ‘ do not cut this tree down

it is part of nature, you are ruining nature and it is not fair on us people who are

connected to it because they wont like you doing it, that could be their favourite tree,

and they could be like where is my favourite tree gone? Then their friend will have to

say its been chopped down and then they wont want to go back, that’s why if you are

connected to nature it makes sure know body does any damage and you just keep as you

found it when you went there

So people who are more connected, I guess children like yourselves will be less likely

to litter less likely to pollute?

M, Y5 – I never litter anyway

1- You can just put it in your pockets

M, Y5 – Same or you can just put it into your back pack

Will there be a difference between children who have been to WS and those who



M, Y5 – Well if you haven’t been much you are not gonna be, but if you have been

there loads of times you are gonna know what you can do and what you cant do. Its like

the things you cant do, is like, do not erm do not litter because we would just being a

litter bug

M, Y3 – Its bad for nature

M, Y5 – And you are ruining nature, it’s like if someone littered in nature and they um,

threw a bag in into the sea a turtle tried to eat the bag and it suffocated and it died, and

they got the bag out and found out how threw the bag in and arrested them for two years

F, Y3 – There was a turtle- a fox who was it had a camera around its neck it couldn’t get


Do you think that WS helps children to become more environmentally friendly? Or do

you just think that children are environmentally friendly?

M, Y5 – Well you’re not that environmentally friendly if you don’t know that much

about nature

Ok so that’s interesting, WS helps you learn about nature and then it turns you into

someone is environmentally friendly?

M, Y5 – Yeah its like if you don’t know about nature then you might litter and you

wont know what would happen because you wont know that much about it

How do you feel when you see exploded cars, rubbish and litter up at Marley Common?

M, Y5 – Well when I saw that exploded car I thought who would actually leave a car

here and then explode it they cant just do it in the woods because if that fire caught onto

trees it would

M, Y5 - Start a forest fire

M, Y3 - Yeah, and then they are really hard to um get the fire out and it runs straight in

to the core of the earth where all the hot is

How do you girls feel when you see littler and rubbish in the streets?

M, Y5 – If I saw litter I would just pick it up

How can me, teachers, adults increase childrens connections to nature?

M, Y3 – We go more out into nature, more and see what it is like

So, visiting nature more experiencing nature more?

M, Y3 – Feel things, learn more

So pick things up, touch things and explore?

M, Y5 – And then pick things up and research and say what is this stuff? I wanna find it

out and then you could do a project like you are doing and then pull it and put it into a

cabinet and say the first time I went into the woods I found a slimy stuff in the forest

and its called la de da de da

So does it make you want to ask questions? And then makes you want to go away and

research them?

M, Y5 – Yeah ‘cause if people say oh where did you find that? Could I have some?

Well I don’t know yet im gonna have t go home and research and I could tell you, and

yeah, im not sure if it is poisonous or not like M, Y5 said, I’ll research it tonight when I

get home and tell you all of the information that I found out tomorrow. And then get


some of those plastic gloves that dentists wear and pick it up and you know you see

something nice and then you wanna touch it and it gives you a disease and then your

hand goes all swollen and then like I’m never going back into nature because of that,

that’s why you should wear gloves and always be careful and it if looks poisonous then

just don’t touch it

F, Y3 – Or you could like use something to pick it up and then even if it is poisonous

you wouldn’t touch it

5 – Definitely don’t touch mushrooms

M, Y5 - Yeah poisonous mushrooms

M, Y3 – Unless they are bought from a shop

M, Y5 – Unless you are scientist who knows every type of mushroom

So M, Y5 said earlier that he loves nature so I have a quote by a man who said we

cannot win this battle to save species and environments without first forging an

emotional bond with it first – for we will not fight to save what we do not love. so he

said that humans will not save stuff if we do not love it first

M, Y5 – Yeah you need to love stuff before you save it like if you save it because if

they come and say do not so this because erm ugh I don’t know I should have

researched this before, so you should always research first, love it and also make sure

that when you do research it doesn’t get damaged when you are researching because

then you are going to be too late and also and also you could put secret cameras in the

woods, not to be silly but that is a real good way of seeing if people can research it, so if

you see something suspicious then next time you go there are two bits of it like one here

and one there and before, the last time there was only one there but next time there is

two so you always put secret cameras so you can see on the TV bit and watch it all day

and all night if yoyu have to to see who or what is making that come more and more and

if you see a person you quickly take a picture of it and then you try and you stay in that

place where they cannot find you behind the tree and the say what are you doing you

cant just lay all that stuff here, you have to put it somewhere else because this isn’t your


So 5 do you think it is important that people fall in in love with it first before they are

supposed to save it?

F, Y5 – I think you should love it first because you might saver it but you might not like


F, Y3 do you think it is important? I know it sounds a bit silly to fall in love with nature

M, Y5 – it doesn’t sound that silly because we know which way you mean not like oh I

love nature

So how can you make someone fall in love with nature?

M, Y3 – Tell them about it

M, Y3 – Show them

M, Y3 - Force them to do things, to see it

F, Y3 – Well not force them but ask them

M, Y5 – If they are not bothered to go in there because it is too boring and they are like

nah that sounds so boring I’m not going

M, Y3 – You could show them pictures! If they don’t want to go first

M, Y5 – And then you can take them into the woods and say look, come on you are

already into the woods and you are already having fun so stop I saw you smile a minute


ago and I saw you jumping around having fun so it might sound bring but when you try

it, it is actually just really fun

That’s good, do you think that children should jump around in nature, play and then the

learning comes? After?

M, Y5 - Yeah, just don’t ruin anything because if you see something that is really nice

then you wanna research it like see that picture there (points to picture on the wall) if

you wanna research the what kind of flowers and what kind of tree that is then if you

accidently ruin someone’s ruined the flowers and chopped down the tree then you

should have done something for it so they would have not damaged it. So then you can

actually learn stuff about it. So be around it a lot

M, Y5 – You shouldn’t always be jumping around it and stuff because if you are

climbing trees you could like fall off and break your arm or push off a birds nest or


F, Y3 – Or you could pull off the bark that would hurt the tree

M, Y5 – Or pull off a branch and then … um

M, Y5 – Then you could fall off

M, Y5 – Like if you broke a really strong branch and it fell off it would probably lets

say pull the tree down and then the tree would fall and then if you’re in the tree then you

are obviously gonna not die but could brake your bones or the tree

M, Y5 – Or it could destroy an animal’s habitat

At the moment, I speak to a lot of adults and I say I need to take children into the woods

first because they need to love it first they need to play in it and sometimes they will

break things but in 10 years 20 years time they’ll be the ones that are more likely to

look after it

M, Y5 – yea children need to love it first and break it and then look after it

What do you like to look at when you are out in nature?

F, Y3 – I like to look at the animals and what they do, say they have babies, what they

do to help their babies in their family and stuff

M, Y5 – flowers and trees, like the patterns in trees

M, Y3 – I like looking at what all the animals are doing and what the birds and stuff like


Does it ever get boring looking at stuff like that?

M, Y3 – it does if you look at it for a few hours or something

F, Y3 – say there was a really detailed flower and if you are really focused on it you

probably wouldn’t get bored because you focus on it so much you like cant get bored

until the end of it

F, Y5 – I don’t get bored looking at the animals, because when you get older you can

find out where their habitats are so you could stop people taking away their habitat

M, Y5 – like what maddie said if you look at an animal or a bird maybe and you are like

what is that? Maybe it is a pigeon with a turquoise nec or orange neck and then you

want to find out more about it and you take a picture of it and have a look on the

internet about it and do some research and you will get some information about it

I think children are always able to ask questions but do you think that when you go to

WS that you start to ask more questions about nature? I guess you start to turn into a

WS scientist?


M, Y5 – I asked the teacher why did you throw the orange peel on the floor and this is

what she said this will turn into soil and it made me ask questions and…

What helps you to relax out in nature?

F, Y3 – I like to look at the nature like say, um flowers around you, looking at them or

the wildlife, say you saw some foxes or some animals like birds or something

M, Y5 – Find a space, sit back and read a book

M, Y3 – I like all the wildlife and the flowers and stuff

Do you think the learning is different outdoors? How does it change?

F, Y3 – It is different in changes

M, Y5 – It totally changes, it changes your life, it has totally changed

F, Y3 – You are outside in space then you are cramped in a little room, I have also learn

that I love to be outside and that I can spend my whole life outside and I guess I just like

feeling free kind of

M, Y5 – Then you experience different stuff, like as I said earlier if you are not

bothered to go out there it can actually be very fun and you might as well have a go at it

and if you have a go and you don’t like it it is fine just don’t do the fun stuff, just do

what you want to do, in nature and that

M, Y5 – Yeah because when you do fall in love with it you become addicted to it and

going outside

F, Y3 – Well what my aunty says is, if you say it’s boring then you are boring

Is there anything else you would like to say?

M, Y5 – One thing I would like to say to everyone is do not damage nature…

M, Y3 – Sometimes you have to chop trees down to let the sun come in and to let things


M, Y5 – Also trees are one of the most important things on earth because the leaves

gives us oxygen so we can breathe and if there wasn’t any trees we wouldn’t be alive

right now, that’s giving us their oxygen so we can breathe. We should owe them one

because they are giving us oxygen the most important thing ever life.

M, Y3 – If you are going to cut down trees, you should cut down old trees anyway

because they are going to die

M, Y3 – Not because people are going to damage them

And what would you use those trees for?

F, Y5 – I think because people sometimes cut down trees and some people leave them

so they’re not using them

What could you use them for?

F, Y3 – You could use them for paper or stuff, or stuff that you need to use

So when you do cut down trees it is important that –

F, Y3 – You do it carefully

M, Y5 – And make sure you make use of it

F, Y3 – Make sure you have a plan of it and you make use of it


Appendix G – Transcript Interview 2

OK to start off, what do you think I mean when I say the word nature?

F, Y4 – Trees, animals

F, Y5 – Flowers and plants are nature

All - Yeah

So are humans part of nature?

All – Yeah

F, Y4 – Oh yeah, I think nature is everything um that is living, you know that is not man


F, Y5 – Yea man-made stuff is not nature

F, Y5 – If a human has made it then it isn’t nature

Ok, Do you like spending time in nature and the outdoors? Why?

All – (Nodding) Yes

F, Y4 – I love spending time outdoors, the other, um 2 days ago me and my Dad went to

a place like Marley Common and it was beautiful it has crocus and snowdrops and the


That sounds nice, I guess there is always something different to see in nature?

F, Y4 – Yeah, I love the spring and the autumn

F, Y5 – I do to

Why? What’s so special about this time of year?

F, Y4 – I just love the colours

F, Y5 – Me too, autumn colours are great

I love spring, in a few weeks when the trees are just starting to make their leaves again

and they start to explode with colour!

F, Y4 – Well actually, I love that too, like I really like all times of the year in nature, I

don’t actually like it when it snows, it’s like all white and it looks too man made, but

obviously its not man made but I dunno it is just different in when it snows. I don’t

think it has the same nature-y feeling I don’t know why, but I know that snow isn’t man

made but it makes me feel like I am in somewhere that is man made

I understand, I guess it just doesn’t look natural, eh?

F, Y4 – Yes, I just don’t think it is as good as in spring and autumn.

So, how does it make you feel to be out in nature?

F, Y5 – You are free to move around and breathe in the air, you are not cooped up in a


F, Y4 – I actually really love just walking my dog in nature, because you can go in one

direction one day and then if you want to go and explore some other um little bits then

you can just go out and do that.

So, you like to explore nature? How does that make you feel?

F, Y4 – It makes me feel happy that I don’t always have to walk on the paths


M, Y3 – I feel really relaxed in nature, I love the colours, and like to um look at the


Do you enjoy just sitting or do you like to walk and explore?

M, Y3 – Well there is this really nice part in the woods behind my house and it’s got

like a huge jungle tree, that I like to go and sit by, I even read when I am there

Why do you choose that tree?

M, Y3 – Just because it is a big one, and you can see the rest of the forest when you are

reading, its like, its like really peaceful

F, Y4 – Well this goes back to earlier, but I really like to visit the woods all the time and

see if things are like different or if they are changing, like animals are there or new


Ok, so do you think it is important that you keep visiting the woods to really appreciate


All – yeah

M, YF, Y5 – Yeah if you only go once you might not see everything, but every time

you go back you get to see new birds, new animals and look at them differently, you

might even see something special

So, because WS lets you keep going back to the same spot, it makes you learn about it

and look at it every time?

All – Yeah

So, what is so special about WS?

F, Y5 – Well you get to make dens and you get to make fire and marshmallows and play

games with your friends

F, Y5 – Well I think it is really good, because it is like an activity that you can do that

teaches you about nature, but like it also kinda prepares you for some things that might

come at you later in life, when you might need to look after yourself more, and then I

really like being out of the classroom because in the classroom you have to do specific

things but uin WS you can just do what you want but you need to uh, you need to make

sure you are not being silly which is what Mrs Teacher does.

M, YF, Y5 -

F, Y4 – I think WS is really good, like you get to do what you like there, if you want to

sit you can, if you want to explore you can. But I think it should be called something

else, because its not like school school where you get to learn, well it is when you speak

to a teacher you get to speak to them and do some learning. But the other time all you

do is play and explore

Hmm, do you not think you are learning when you are playing?

F, Y4 – I do, but I only get to learn when I ask the teacher about things. Its like two

different lessons, one is like should be called wild play because you just get to play out

in the wild and explore and the other half should be called wild school because you

actually get to learn at this bit.

Well school is school and you do do some stuff break is part of school so that’s where

WS is is like school but the thing that makes, well the typical school well I know

because we actually do other things at school and this school is quite an interesting

school, but the typical school is sitting down, then listening and then writing and then


testing and stuff like that so if we were going to do something like that in the wild of

course we wouldn’t get a stick and start writing and start doing lessons in the mud

because that would just be crazy, but basically the same prospect if you wanted a WS

school would be to sit around about the wild and the history about it and stuff like that

but if you wanted to the WS like when we have it you are more likely to benefit more is

like WS where you are like right off you go play now if you see.

F, Y5 – in our WS we have like three whistles, where the first one you can run off and

explore and play and then the three whistles and you come back sometimes they’ll pick

somebody and then that’s fine and they can go back and then after that you can have hot

chocolate and then we all sit back around the fire and discuss what we have done, what

we have enjoyed what we have learnt

Do you think it is important to do that?

F, Y5 – Yeah it is important to evaluate

F, Y5 - And it discuss it because you have done different things to other people, you

have gone to different place and seen different things you have seen different flowers,

trees and everything else

What bit is more important? Playing in nature or learning with a teacher?

F, Y4 – I think they are both important, because you actually get to learn about different


F, Y5 – Um, the learning is different from inside really, the learning is free to learn

about something different, and it just feel different something inside. You can learn

about what you like

F, Y4 – Yeah you can learn about one type of tree when you want, you can look at it

and think oh what’s this type of tree?

Is it important to learn about trees?

All – Yeah


F, Y4 – Well if you kind of know what one tree is like say I know what a silver birch is

I know that any other tree is different, you start to see the difference between one tree

and another really.

Let me ask, if you had to explain WS to a stranger what would you say?

M, Y5 – I would explain that its, something that you can like learn about like

identifying trees and um just doing like things you want to do yourself and not like just

like with a teacher its kind of like learning everything about nature, learning how to

whittle and learning things like that.

F, Y4 – Well, if I had to say it to a stranger I would say it is about how to keep your

self-safe. I would also chose to say well, its about being outside and having fun, and you

get to learn about nature and wildlife

F, Y5 – You know, its like, well I think WS is just like school but outdoors where you

can discover new things with nature, it is fun with Mrs Teacher and all your friends and

it allows you to feel free in the outdoors.


Anything else?

F, Y5 – Well it’s a bit like building a den really, first of all WS is just a lot of sticks and

you can’t really you don’t really know what it is. Every time you go back to the woods

and you do WS you start to build your den around you and you add a new shape and it

begins to make a shape around you. I think that if someone saw what WS is they would

be like, this is a mess and it doesn’t really make much sense because it is a bit


M, Y3 – I actually agree with 4, WS is a bit of a mess when you first start because you

are not used to it but every time you go you learn more things and start to build the den

around you

Wow, that’s a great analogy! Does everyone agree?

F, Y5 – Basically at the start it’s like a pile of wood and then when you’ve learnt

something you sort of build a frame of it and tied some string on it

F, Y4 – Every time you want to complete something its like adding a stick to your den

F, Y5 – And after you add it its like a circle, like a circle of life

F, Y5 – Once you’ve done it and you done it you still have got a few little bits to do

because like you’ve done the frame and you an camouflage it and its like your den so

maybe like in your den you and then you can add things to it all the time

F, Y4 – Each stick it like a level, sort of, for you, its like you put one stick on after you

have done an activity you’re like I have done this level and now I can go up a level and

if you go up the top level and you put your last stick on and decorated it all and you

know you’ve completed and now you’re connected to nature because you have been

more than once because if you only sort of go once you are not connected to nature

because you have only been once and you are like this is really boring, but if you go

back again and you do different things then you get more connected to it because you

know different things about it

F, Y5 – Once you have done them all you are like connected to nature and you know


F, Y5 – Decorating it is just like finishing off the last final touches of like so like

making sure you help nature and stuff

M, Y3 – I agree with what 3 said but I also disagree. I agree but I am saying its really

not good to go all the time because if you went everyday I actually thing you would get

pretty bored of it and you would get tired of it and you wouldn’t enjoy it going for

walks in the woods anymore and when you’re mum and dad mentions it you’ll be like

ohhhhh because if you do it too much you can get tired of it and then…

F, Y4 – Well like I’m kind of connected to nature because I love going outside and

playing because I think it is important that you do go and at least see like trees and

flowers and like wild animals like nearly everyday like every other day so you do see

different days and there could be like different animals

M, Y3 – But I am saying not like everyday you want to go for a walk in the woods on

the same route to take the dog because you might get tired of it and not enjoy it any


All – Yeah

So, do you think that some of the most important thing is that you are able to go back

again and again?

All – Yeah


Ok, so my research looks at three different types of experiencing nature, there is direct

experiences where like WS you are able to touch and feel nature, explore and leanr

about it. There is indirect experience like a zoo –

F, Y4- Or a park?

Yes like a park where nature is there but it has been put there –

F, Y5 – Yea and sometimes it is just a big piece of grass really

Exactly and the last one is called vicarious and it is like reading books about nature and

watching TV programs. What I want to find out is what is better and why? Is WS a

direct experience?

All – Oh yeah

F, Y4 – Well zoos take animals out and they put them there and they have people come

up them all day and shout in there face and say look mummy look at this animal

F, Y5 – It isn’t very fair at all

F, Y4 – Yeah I don’t agree with zoos unless they are taking endangered animals and

breeding them releasing them like um back into the wild, then it is ok

I agree, so do you think direct experience is better than indirect?

All – Yeah

F, Y5 – Well yeah a park can be just like a wood, it can have like a metal climbing

frame, but in the woods you just have the trees that are like a climbing frame and you

can use them

M, YF, Y5 – A park is just a collection of trees and grass its not really wild enough for


So a wood can be just as fun as a park?

F, Y5 – Yeah its better because it isn’t just grass, it has everything a park has and it is

like a jungle where you can find animals and flowers and explore, but in a park you can

see from one side to the other and then it is close to cars and roads.

F, Y4 – I think it is better when you can touch nature then feel it and then look at it

because you cant do that in a park really

So you like to be able to be right in there with nature and to touch and feel?

All – Yeah

And does WS let you do that?

M, YF, Y5 – Yeah it really does it make you get muddy and you play some games that

makes you play with the nature in the forest and then you can climb it and look over

here and under this stone on then there might be a hidden animal

So, in WS you can explore and discover more? What does exploring do to children?

F, Y5 – It makes them more comfortable in nature

M, Y3 – It makes you really like to be there

F, Y4 – I really like to make my own paths in nature and look for new things

Does it make you ask lots of questions?

All – yeah

Does WS teach you anything else?


M, YF, Y5 - Well it teaches you how to look after nature, and to care for it

F, Y5 – Yeah and you can learn to be careful

So WS helps you learn to care for nature and to love it?

All – Yeah

So, maybe if you didn’t do WS you would care for it?

F, Y5 – Well I definitely would, but you know if you are from a city

Like London?

M, Y5 - Yeah in London you might not have any woods or nature, and you might only

have the odd park and it its not the same and if you cant explore nature nature you

probably wont really grow up to be someone who cares for it

F, Y5 – Yeah and if you are like a younger children than me you might not understand

that nature is well that you can hurt nature by not looking after it. If the only nature that

you have is a park you wont know about all the other bits of nature and you might just


Do you think that WS teaches you to be responsible for the environment?

All – yeah

F, Y4 – Well what I actually think is that it makes you want to look after it, because you

get to find out lots of things about it and then you really want to look after it

Do you think if you didn’t get to learn about it and learn to like it then you wouldn’t

want to look after it?

F, Y5 – Yeah children who grow up not playing in nature probably wont want to look

after it when they are our age.

So, how would you increase someone being connected to nature?

F, Y5 – Well, like when I am in my garden I like I have got a really big garden and I am

like well to me its quite big because my old garden wasn’t big and I have a place where

I go where nobody knows about it, well one person knows about it and I really like it

and like when I don’t want to be with anybody I just like go and have my own space

and I can go in it

How do you feel when you are in your special place?

F, Y5 – Well it’s like in my garden and well like it’s yeah, most of the trees in my

garden and like rotten and dead and em but this one isn’t so it’s like its got really good


F, Y4 – My garden used to be like 5’s, it was like a nice kinda garden at the front and

then at the back it was like a jungle-y thing at the back but then when we properly

moved in after winter we had like building work done then you used to be able to

explore and then we had this brick wall you could jump off and then we had bamboo bit

and well then I really liked it and then they cut it all down and its just become like some

grass it not like as fun and I cant even go up there anyway because of the stinging

nettles so I think it would have been much better if we hadn’t cut it down

F, Y5 (hand up) – well I really like nature but I also really like doing stuff indoors and I

like, well I like nature but then not all the time sometimes it is really really fun but I like

watching TV and shopping


OK, do you think that is someone is really connected to nature that they are more or less

likely to be environmentally friendly?

F, Y5 – No, because some people here like WS but they don’t really care, they just

chuck their chuck rubbish on the floor because I bet like some people like who do WS

do they like doing WS but they don’t care as much as they don’t care as much as they

older people, so like the YF, Y5’s like if they didn’t understand as much as we do then

they’re more likely to chuck litter on the ground in the woods like if they are having a

packet of crisps then they might just chuck it down and then their mum says where’s

your packet of crisps and they are like it is in my pocket

So because you have been to WS more…

F, Y5 – And we understand it more because we are older…

F, Y5 – Then we pay more attention

F, Y5 – Then we are more likely that we’re are not gonna chuck rubbish around than

they are because they are younger and they don’t care

So is it important children do experience WS because they would be less likely…

F, Y5 – Yea because I bet in London there would be loads of litter around

F, Y4 – I think there are two kinds of people really, like there are children like us who

grow up in the country and they are out in nature all the time and they can explore and

love it, but then there are children who live in like London and they don’t get the same

they don’t get to explore, maybe they have like one park to share but nothing special

and maybe they like to watch TV all the time or XBOX or they like to go shopping and

they like all the razzle dazzle of going shopping and they might look at nature in the

woods and think its horrible, when it isn’t you just have to explore it and it is great. Like

I love running around in the woods but I don’t like all the razzle dazzle of fashion and

of the city. It’s a bit like town mouse and county mouse really.

F, Y5 – Well this isn’t really about nature, but when we went on the train and we went

to the mosque and I noticed and you know the train stations have the like the whit things

on the floor it was like all chewing gum

F, Y5 – And poo!

F, Y5 – And cigarette butts

F, Y5 – And there is like loads of rubbish on the floor and there was like loads of

chewing gum and all coffee cups

So, do you think that it important that all children get to experience WS?

F, Y5 – Yes, I think that all children should like experience WS because it is much

better to feel free with nature and be friends with nature, I have learnt new things about

myself and nature, Mrs Teacher is very kind and and allows us to do lots of things we

would normally ever do

F, Y4 – I think it is because they can learn about things that they might not have learnt

about before in their life, I have learnt that I love to toast marshmallows and that I am

braver, than I think I am indoors

Have you learnt anything about working with others at WS?

F, Y5 – I have learnt that it is not all about yourself and it is about team work and

friendship and then you can only do something hard if you have a friend with you

Hmm, ok well I have got a quote I would like you to hear, it is by a man over 50 years

ago now who said that we cannot win this battle to save species (animals) and


environments (outside, nature) without forging (making) and emotional (love) bond

(connection) between ourselves and nature – because we will not fight for what we do

not love. So what he is saying is people will not fight to save nature first if they don’t

not love it first do you agree with this?

F, Y5 – I agree because if you don’t like nature you are not going to care, you’re not

going to care you’re not going to go oh lets go save animals

F, Y5 – Because you’re not going to pay attention to it you’ll be just like I will chuck

that there and you wont really care and tread on flowers because nature is not that


F, Y4 – I think our WS isn’t totally wild, because we probably wouldn’t be in the woods

totally with nothing but you and some clothes but with our WS I don’t think its fully

WS because we take a lot of saws and we take big things of water and food and

backpacks of first aid and we take all of that stuff like I need an inhaler like if I was

stuck in the wild I’d need and I was running because I was trying to get back home then

I would need to be able to control my breath but when I go up there I can just easily say

oh can I have my inhaler

So its not fully Wild but pretty wild

F, Y5 – It is sort of disagreeing with F, Y4’s because I have to have an epi-pen and I

have to take it everywhere with me and I have no choice like she needs first aid so they

have to sort of take my epi-pen because if I did have an allergic reaction they wouldn’t

know what to do

Ok, so what parts of nature do you really love?

M, YF, Y5 – I don’t like spiders

You don’t like spiders?

F, Y4 – The part of nature that I do like is well I do like the animals but my favorite part

is the trees and the flowers I think they are really beautiful especially in spring and


F, Y5 – I like really looking at it and exploring it and having an adventure in nature

And exploring it and having an adventure in it, does that make you fall in love with it?

F, Y5 – Yeah

M, YF, Y5 - Like when I am walking my dog, like I saw a deer run across and you see

rabbits and other animals and I think that it is important that you experience it out in the

woods and seeing animals run around and in their own habitat… but also on TV,

because on TV there are programs on about like nature world and spring watch, country


F, Y4 – I think that it is important that they show nature on the TV though because if

they didn’t the people who didn’t have it wouldn’t be bothered to go but its also like the

same thing because you might go oh look at that! I’ve got to go and see some and you

might be really disappointed because you have gone at the wrong time or you’re in the

wrong place

5 – Well I am not like, I’m not really one of those people who will just stand there for

ages and be like oh it’s a flower, I would just look at it and go away and touch

something, I’m just one of those people who likes to go away and touch some things

F, Y5 – And I like to hear things like squelching mud

F, Y4 – I prefer looking at things


I think everyone is different aren’t they?

All – yes

Do you have anything else to say?

F, Y4 – I think it is important to explore, because like if you stay in one piece of

common land for the whole of your life then you’ll know everywhere and you’ll visit it,

it will change but you will start to get a bit bored so I think it is important to go to lots

of different woods as well

F, Y5 – It is like I have a guinea pig and in the winter, we let it run around, I mean the

spring, and we move the hutch on to the grass and let the guinea pig run around on it,

but after a while you need to move it so it had a new piece of grass to explore. And that

is kinda the same with WS you need to move and explore and find out new things

F, Y4 – So like each piece of lawn that is it on is like a different wood?

F, Y3 – I think everyone should experience nature because there is loads of things

around you because if like it was just in the shops it would be a bit boring like everyday,

like everyday having a birthday

F, Y5 – it’s also good that you you know you get to know the wood really well because

then you are really like to go back to it each time, because you really know it really well

and you get really close to it

So going back is an important thing?

F, Y5 – And I think if you start this place in the woods and then you move over to here,

(uses hands) for a few weeks because you spread out and then when you are older you

can go back and like see whats different, different animals living there, different trees

have the trees been cut down for coppicing or flowers or anything like that

F, Y4 – what I was going to see is what F, Y3 said about yeah, um well oh right yeah it

was about shops, I think that people who work in shops don’t have any experience in

nature at all coz I have seen shop decorations trying to look like nature in the autum and

they come up with the odd leaves, which are falling down, sticking to the trunks like I

think it looks really silly coz it doesn’t look anything like the real nature coz when they

were younger I don’t think people thought wild school was so important because I don’t

think their parents took them out as much

But do you think that children spent more time outdoors a few years ago?

F, Y4 – Yes, because there weren’t cars my mum used to go horse riding and dog

walking everyday

Is there anything you would change about WS?

F, Y5 – I don’t thinker, I think I would change the weather so we could do more stuff

So do you not go out in the rain?

F, Y5 – We do but you probably cant get to climb a tree and do lots of different things

Is there anything else you would like to say?

M, Y3 – Well, I think I well WS helps you to enjoy life with yourself and other people

and to explore nature like you have never done before

Wow, does everyone agree with M, Y3?

All – Yeah


Appendix H – Published Pilot Study