AN EX-DEPUTY head has ditched senior leadership meetings in favour of mud pie-making, tree swings, and campfire sing-songs. 

Caroline Rogers, who’s originally from Little Budworth, set up Cheshire Forest School in 2022 after teaching in primary schools for 23 years in London, and as a deputy head in Ellesmere Port.

The Forest School movement started in Scandinavia, offering kids a programme of outdoors-based education where they learn all kinds of personal, social, and technical skills, and how to take risks in a supported way.

Cheshire Forest School began by holding sessions for local primary schools and holiday clubs, but last March, Caroline took the lease on an acre of woodland near Whitegate from a local farmer.

Northwich Guardian: Ex-deputy head, Caroline Rogers, is also an accredited level 3 forest school practitionerEx-deputy head, Caroline Rogers, is also an accredited level 3 forest school practitioner (Image: Cheshire Forest School)

From then on, Cheshire Forest School had a home of its own, and mum-of-two Caroline has branched out into stay and play sessions, in-house holiday and after school clubs for four to 11-year-olds, family group activities, and kids parties.  

What’s more, just seven months after moving into the woods in Whitegate, the business has been name ‘Best Children’s Party Provider’ for Cheshire and Greater Manchester 2023 by Red Kite Days.

The 47-year-old says she was ‘absolutely delighted’ to have been placed ahead of large franchise companies, adding: “Given I’ve only been up and running properly since March, it’s just phenomenal.

“I absolutely love being outside and I love being with children. Forest school combines the two. It's a dream come true. 

“This morning I’ve been teaching two to four-year-olds how to use a bowsaw to make wooden discs, which they’ve turned into poppies for Remembrance Day.

“We live in a bit of a risk-averse society really, but getting kids engaged in these kinds of activities is all part of the forest school ethos. It about being able to take risks, but in a controlled and managed way.

“Forest school lets kids connect with the natural world. If they don’t connect with it and learn to enjoy being in it, they’re not going to understand why it’s so important to look after it for themselves and for generations to come.

“And from a well-being point of view, it's about getting the little ones away from screens."

In August, Cheshire Forest School received official Ofsted registration, which means parents can now use their tax-free childcare scheme allowance to help cover the costs.

But parents will have to be quick, as its first summer holiday club this year was full and operating a waiting list.  

“Forest School is so popular because of all the new kinds of experiences the children can get,” Caroline added.

“If kids want to climb a tree, they climb the tree. It’s all about having a go.

“It’s great for self-esteem and confidence building.”