Welcome to Learning About Forests (LEAF)
Using nature as a classroom
What is LEAF?
Learning about Forests is a learning programme that advocates outdoor learning and hands-on experiences, resulting in pupils gaining a deeper and more involved understanding of the natural world. The LEAF programme rests on the belief that children need to experience nature both for themselves and for society as a whole. With more than half the world's population living in urban areas, the need to connect with nature is even more important.
No Forest Needed!
While the focus of the LEAF programme is on tree-based ecosystems, the skills and knowledge can be acquired and applied in any natural environment. Our definition of forest is wide and can include marine forests and urban ecosystems. Anyone can take part in LEAF, no matter where they live.
Why take part?
- Unique opportunity to address Learning for Sustainability in a new format that can be integrated into day-to-day teaching.
- Improved mental wellbeing, focus and academic outcomes for pupils due to increased time outdoors connecting with nature.
- Improved confidence for teachers in outdoor learning and nature based education.
- No charge to take part - fully funded by the Scottish Government.
- Open to all age ranges, from early years to secondary and ASN schools / departments.
- Can be counted towards an Eco-Schools Green Flag award.
Like Eco-Schools, LEAF is one of five programmes operated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful in Scotland. Find out more about LEAF worldwide by visiting the LEAF international website.
We are currently running a pilot version of LEAF. We hope to open up registrations to all schools and nurseries in Scotland in August 2023. If you would join LEAF in August 2023, please complete our waiting list form.
In the meantime, LEAF resources will be available to all schools to use as standalone teaching materials, or in support of an Eco Schools Green Flag application, whether you are registered with the programme or not.
Climate Action Schools Year Planner
Keep track of your LEAF work and our offering of lessons and training with our new Climate Action Schools planner. Printable on A3 to write on. Download a copy here.
The LEAF Award
The LEAF award demonstrates a commitment to outdoor and nature based education, as well as knowledge and understanding of the crucial roles of forest based ecosystems.
In order to achieve a LEAF award, you will need to complete all six parts of the Forest Cycle.
Our introductory video for pupils and educators explains further.
The Forest Cycle
Completion of all elements of the Forest Cycle qualifies you for a LEAF Certificate of Achievement. Evidence of Forest Cycle completion is submitted online, using any format that works best for you. We have a checklist and template to help you.
The Forest Cycle is similar to the Eco Schools seven elements, but this is a smaller award, requiring fewer actions. As such it can be counted towards an Eco Schools Green Flag application, or as a standalone project for schools who want to work towards something a bit smaller.
How could this look in your setting?
Some ideas for how you could integrate LEAF into your setting can be found below. Please note this is by no means an exhaustive list. LEAF is designed to be flexible to suit your individual setting requirements. If you have any queries about how to integrate LEAF into your setting, please contact us at email@example.com.
View our Tree of Learning curricular maps to help you link your LEAF activities to the curriculum: Early Level, First Level, Second Level, Third Level, Fourth Level.
- Integrating nature based activities into indoor and outdoor learning time to help children connect to the natural world using all their senses.
- Spending more time outdoors with children, exploring the world around them.
- Taking part in activities to help children understand how nature works and how to protect it.
- LEAF could be run as a class topic, with activities taking place outdoors where pupils can connect with nature, learn how it works and how to protect it.
- LEAF could be run as a whole school project with an emphasis on taking current learning outdoors and using this time to connect with nature.
- LEAF activities could be split between classes, with activities relevant to each class taking place throughout the year.
- LEAF could be integrated into a timetabled class in any subject, with existing learning slanted towards the natural world and more time spent outdoors.
- LEAF could be taken on by an Eco-group in your school, who would organise activities centred around LEAF aims.
- LEAF could be integrated into the school ethos, with activities based around connection to, and understanding of, nature.
ASN schools / departments
- Using LEAF as a basis for multisensory learning via indoor and outdoor nature based activities to help pupils connect to the natural world using all their senses.
- Utilising natural environments as a classroom to enhance learning, communication and confidence.
- Using LEAF activities to help pupils understand the natural world and how to protect it.