AFSA Guiding Principles

The Australian Forest School Association membership base includes educators and facilitators from various settings and styles across the country. As an Association which offers a united voice to provide advice, guidance and support for all members, the Guiding Principles and Practices of the Australian Forest School Association provides a platform and united standard of practice. The Guiding Principles and Practices express the values of the organisation and allow for the diversity of expression within our membership base.

The Guiding Principles and Practices are used to approve membership applications for the Association to ensure that members are practicing with a shared philosophy at the core of their practice. These Principles and Practice Guidelines are flexible enough to allow members to demonstrate individuality and unique expression of Forest School practice, appropriate to local conditions, environment and service requirements.

With these Guiding Principles and Practices serving as a common goal for our membership base, the Australian Forest School Association will be able to be active as a voice of advocacy for the benefits of nature play and nature immersion across Australia.


1REGULAR NATURE IMMERSIONAustralian Forest School programs offer regular and ongoing immersion in natural wild spaces, allowing participants to develop meaningful relationships with nature, others and themselves.Australian Forest School programs offer at least 2 or more hours of nature immersion over several sessions during a year (ideally weekly). Regular nature experiences over long periods of time deepens children’s ecological knowledge, increases personal confidence, allows opportunity to practice skills and embrace challenges and achievements in their own learning.
2CONNECTION TO COUNTRYAustralian Forest School programs acknowledge and respect Australian First Nations people and their ancient and ongoing connection to the land.Forest School programs are active in seeking meaningful relationships with local Indigenous communities, ongoing commitments to Reconciliation processes and the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in forest school programs.
3FREE PLAY AND NATURAL LEARNINGAustralian Forest School programs honour play as providing a flexible structure and learning environment to make use of the natural flow and rhythm of participant’s intuitive play.Forest School programs are structured to help children move through sessions safely with provision of long periods of free play and self-chosen engagement with nature. Specific activities and games are offered based on learner-led interest.
4INCLUSIVITY AND ACCESSIBILITYAustralian Forest School programs are inclusive and accessible learning environments, and are beneficial for all people regardless of age, race, religion, gender, ability or financial status.Forest School programs are planned with consideration to anti-bias and social justice principles. This consideration provides opportunities for participants to access learning experiences in individual ways that foster identity, community cohesion and personal growth. Wherever possible Australian Forest School programs are structured to provide affordable and accessible learning opportunities.
5MENTORING PRACTICESAustralian Forest School Leaders mentor participants to embrace a sense of adventure and challenge in learning to develop resilience and a celebration of personal achievements.Forest School programs use responsive mentoring practices, allowing participants to be involved in guiding their own learning and to celebrate and share their learning experiences with others. Australian Forest School Leaders hold appropriate current qualifications for their specific field and engage in a range of ongoing professional learning to review skills and philosophy relevant to these principles.
6SUSTAINABLE PRACTICESustainable and environmental practices ensure the preservation of natural resources and local species for immediate and long-term benefit.Forest School programs operate with an understanding of local ecology and sustainable practices designed specifically for local sites used by the program. Business decisions include sustainable considerations and participants are involved in practices aimed to learn about, and protect, local habitat and species. Sustainable practice is intertwined with Reconciliation and social justice principles.