Helping people make sense of their world and reconnecting communities with woodland through outdoor adventure.

Stomping Grounds Forest School North East CIC
IMG_1300Sophie : 07950118816

Forest School is an educational ethos which develops confidence, creativity and communication skills through long term participant led experiences outdoors.

Forest school is a process, not a product which allows children and young people to take managed risks allowing participants to make their own decisions about what they want to learn, how and when. Forest school promotes self esteem, empathy and enjoyment.

Stomping Grounds specialise in long term Forest School programmes, but also offer taster days and one off bushcraft and woodland workshops.

Who are we?

Stomping Grounds Forest School CIC is based in Gateshead and was established by Sophie Watkinson, experienced teacher and passionate believer in getting communities back to nature.  Stomping Grounds run regular Forest School session with groups of all ages, focusing on holistic development. Our directors are:


Sophie Watkinson:  Level 3 Forest School Practitioner, Outdoor Paediatric First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure, L2 Food Hygiene Certificate, PGCE.

Sophie has a proven track record of outstanding (grade 1) delivery in formal education establishments and is committed to bringing this excellence outdoors to inspire children and young people.


susanSusan Byrne:  Level 3 Forest School and Beach School Practitioner, HNC Outdoor Studies, Foundation Degree in Youth and Community, Qualified Mountain Leader, Outdoor Paediatric First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure.

Susan has 9 years of experience delivering quality Forest School and outdoor learning across the UK.


jessJess Lloyd: Level 3 Beach School Leader, Qualified Early Years and Primary teacher, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure, Outdoor teacher.

Jess has worked with the Wildlife Trust with schools and community groups as an outdoor teacher, and recently began work with the Royal Forestry Society as an education officer.



We also work with other practitioners on a regular basis, including but not limited to:

Suzanne Powell: Level 3 Forest School trainee, Outdoor Paediatric First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure

Sarah Engel: Level 3 Forest School trainee, Outdoor Paediatric First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure

Lianne Dixon: Level 3 Forest School Leader, Outdoor Paediatric First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure

Julian Briggs: Permaculture expert, tree surgeon, Full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure

Sophie Nichol: Forest School assistant, full insurance, DBS (CRB) clearance

Amber Braithwaite: Level 1 Forest School assistant, First Aid Certificate, full insurance, DBS (CRB) disclosure


What do we do?

We carry out a variety of Forest School work which includes but is not limited to Youth Clubs, Afterschool Clubs, School Groups, Pre School Groups, Birthday Parties and Holiday Clubs.

Some examples of the types of activities we can facilitate include:

Campfire cooking, fire lighting, den building, survival skills, simple foraging, green woodworking, using hand tools safely, woodland games, tree climbing, tree and plant identification and natural art.

We can either use one of our established sites or find a site near you that works for the group. We currently have sites at Brockwell Woods Winlaton, Thornley Woods in Rowlands Gill, Woodland in Chopwell, Waterford Park Lobley Hill, Washingwell School Whickham, Mountfield School Kenton and Birkheads Wild at Marley Hill. We will complete a site survey and 3 year sustainability plan in partnership with land owner to ensure appropriate use to minimise impact on the woodland.  We can also support you with applications for grants to help fund some or all of the activity.


Why we do it?



As roaming distances decrease, risk and decision making is removed, screen time increases and continuous assessment shapes learning experiences, the Forest School movement offers an important and effective intervention.  As described by the FSA (Forest School Association), regular Forest School sessions enable children and young people to:

  • Explore and discover
  • Experience appropriate risk and challenge
  • Choose, initiate and drive their own learning and development
  • Experience regular success
  • Develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
  • Develop strong, positive relationships with their natural world

Participants of regular Forest School sessions have shown increased motivation, attendance and attainment in other areas of the curriculum.  Forest School has also been identified as an effective intervention for those who struggle to achieve in more formal learning settings.

Autumn adventures