Risk Management

When working within the Forest School there are already a number of risks before you start to use tools such as saws, billhooks and knives. As already discussed one of the key elements of Forest School is encouraging children to take controlled risks. As a Forest School Practitioner it is important to know the risks, control them and thus ensuring your group has a fantastic safe expereince.

Before we start looking at individual risks it is important to have an understanding of the key vocabulary often used when discussing them. See some of the key terms in the table below. Click on the table for a printable version.


Sadly, we now live in a day and age where we tend to shelter ourselves and others from risks. It has recently been documented that by depriving children of these risks we are in fact disadvantaging them for later life. Living a sheltered life void of risks doesn’t allow children to develop their own understanding and management of risks, this actually endangers individuals when taking risks later in life. With taking risks in life and at Forest School it is about finding a happy medium. Not being disgracefully unaware of risks, putting people in danger through negligence. However, also not being over the top and wrapping our children in cotton wool. It all relates to managing the risks. Below You will see an example of a Risk Benefit analysis. For a blank Risk Analysis click the table. 

As you can see you can see from the table Risky activities sheet above that there are clear benefits and there are also clear ways in which we can manage the risk created by the activity. When leading a Forest School it is essential that you do manage the risks of your activities. The management of risk is achieved through risk assessments. There are four main areas to cover when completing a risk assessment. 

  1. The Hazard or risk you have identified.
  2. The Significance of the Risk – how dangerous is it?
  3. Any actions that can be taken to control or limit the risk.
  4. Most importantly is whether the benefits from the risk outweigh the potential harm.

Below you will find a blank some sample risk assessment form and a number of sample risk assessments completed for certain activities.

Sample Blank Risk Assessment

General Woodland Risk Assessment

Weather Risk Assessment

Billhook Risk Assessment

Bowsaw Risk Assessment

Loppers Risk Assessment

Sheath Knife Risk Assessment

Blind Fold Risk Assessment 

Collecting Natural Materials Risk Assessment

Transport Risk Assessment