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National Trust criticised for evicting a forest school from its woods

Oct 14, 2018 by

Closing the outstanding-rated outdoor nursery in Kent is at odds with the charity’s own campaign to get children to play outdoors, say parents

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“Set your children free,” urges the National Trust’s campaign to get children outdoors. “Let them feel the wind in their hair, smell food cooking on an open fire, track wild animals and eat a juicy apple straight from the tree.”

But young children will no longer taste such freedoms in National Trust woods in Kent after a forest school judged “outstanding” by Ofsted was evicted by the charity.

Forest Kindergarten, an innovative outdoor nursery established in 2014, will close its doors at Toys Hill this half-term, after the Trust ruled that its daily class of 14 young children were imperilling ancient trees and disturbing wildlife.

The nursery’s annual renewal of its licence to operate in woods designated a “site of special scientific interest” (SSSI) has been refused by Trust managers, despite appeals by parents and children to the Trust and its president, Prince Charles.

According to Forest Kindergarten founder Caroline Watts, she and her children were given permission by the Trust to roam beyond a small base-camp area. Watts paid upwards of £1,500 for an annual National Trust licence to run her nursery, which provided government-funded free places for preschool-age children. Despite no formal facilities, Ofsted inspectors ruled the nursery was “outstanding”.

Source: National Trust criticised for evicting a forest school from its woods | UK news | The Guardian

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