I was very pleased last year to design and work with a large group of parents and children to develop a Forest School environment at St Joseph’s Primary School Hatfield.

Plant naturalising bulbs in the woodland

Create a meadow area, by scraping off the top soil into a hill.

Making a bird look-out cabin, over seeing the pond. 

Forest Schools

St Francis' Garden: Part of Francis of Assisi's story features the future saint spending time in nature and communicating with it. His statue sits well here on the woodland garden we planted.

Aims of the Forest school project:

What did the space at St Joseph’s have originally?

The borrowed landscape:

Create a new pond at the lowest point, so that it looks like it may have been naturally formed. Picture below, me in front of pond.

• Well contained with some anti climb fences all around

• It had a good hill, pictured below, with thick grass.  The picture on the right is after we had a 6 tonne digger to clear the top soil, and we’ve started to make the path.

• The site sloped towards one corner

Clearing some paths for children’s journeys and runs around the area

Reinforce the main path within the area (for better access), going up the Forest School. This includes a retaining plank.

Planting a prayer garden, with a St Francis statue in the centre

Clearing the sycamore seedlings (an invasive, non native species as this will make expensive problems down the line with clearing them)


I felt that I had some good elements to add to this Forest School process. The drama teaching, for which it was necessary to develop a good ability to manage groups in spaces, gave me a good background to work on this design (I hesitate to call it a design, as it was more of a reworking of a good natural space.) Not sure which of these options sounds more pretentious!

 I have an affinity with Forest Schools having been lucky to be able to spend much of the years between 5-11 in various woodland (forming the Clod Hopper gang!), and through my secondary drama teaching.

Clear the view down towards the school, by lowering the native hedge of mainly Hawthorn. Clear back some of the overhanding branches to let in more light. Picture to the right.

Screen the path outside the fence, and create an intimate fire pit circle (fire pit circle)

  • 100 yards down a sports field hill to the primary school (as seen in this picture with the plants in a mini dumper)

  • A wooded area for dog walking
  • A public path running right up one side

Introduce a custom made fire pit by ‘The Fire Pit Company’ organised by John Carrol picture on left. On the right is the St Joseph’s Head Teacher of the time. (Head teacher Ian and John Carrol)(Fire pit vid)

tractor tire planters

07950 431 828 | joe@mcwill.plus.com

• Some 50year old oak trees, some yew and sycamore