Forest Kindergarten training rolled out at first educational institution in Scotland

Mearns After-School Care Service (MACS) in East Renfrewshire is the first play and learning environment in Scotland to deliver Forest Kindergarten training as part of its early years offering. 
MACS, which is an Out of school Care (OSC) company and SQA approved training provider, has started delivering the Forest Kindergarten course to help equip playwork and early years staff with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to support children in learning, through play in local woodlands and greenspaces.
The Forest Kindergarten programme, which is delivered as a three-day course, was developed by Forestry Commission Scotland and gained its SQA accreditation in May 2018. It promotes the use of woodlands as a learning environment, offering young children frequent play in woodlands or other natural settings throughout the year in almost all weathers. The programme involves a range of activities, including exploring for bugs, tracking animals, building dens, arts and crafts and learning about the dangers and risks to look out for in a woodland setting.
Once completed, the practitioners will receive level SCQF 7 as a National Progression Award (NPA).
Penny Anderson, one of the directors at MACS, said: “We are continually developing our professional care services to provide an enhanced learning environment where children and young people have the freedom to play, explore and learn without limits. As many educational practitioners and institutions are revising traditional learning methods and are inspired by the Scandinavian model of education, we too are continually investigating new techniques of education and play.
“Research has shown that play and learning in woodland and greenspaces leads to a range of benefits for children’s development, including better concentration, better communication skills, greater stamina, improved balance and coordination, increased confidence and appreciation of the outdoors. We currently have two of our staff undertaking the training and we are eager to see the developments this makes to our services and the children we support.”
MACS will be delivering its first Forest Kindergarten course at Carlibar Primary School in Barrhead this week. Two staff trained by Forestry Commission Scotland will be leading the training, with 10 OSC practitioners and 12 children taking part.
Sally York, education policy adviser at Forestry Commission Scotland, said: “The Forest Kindergarten training provides early years practitioners with the skillset they need to make the most of the outdoor space available to them. It will also benefit the children, in that the practitioner will have a more in-depth understanding and appreciation of early years pedagogy and play outdoors.
“Having secured the SQA accreditation for the Forest Kindergarten programme in less than a year ago, we are already seeing an interest from educational institutions across the country. With MACS becoming the first establishment to roll out the programme in Scotland, we hope others will lead by example to promote a broader learning experience for children.”
To help further promote outdoor learning out with nursery hours, Forestry Commission Scotland has also developed Forest Kindergarten parent packs to extend the outdoor learning to families at home.
Early years practitioners interested in finding out more about the Forest Kindergarten programme at MACS, please contact 0141 887 0002 or visit

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus bidh e a’ toirt seachad comhairle air poileasaidhean coilltearachd agus air riaghladh. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta as leth Ministearan na h-Alba.
  3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6508 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.