Forest School in Paris

Group 28

Location: Europe, France


Partnership: Greening Capacity


Language: English, French


Format: Classroom Activities, Teacher Training


Audience: Policymakers, Teachers

Meet the teacherLinks

Alexandre Ribeaud

Alexandre has been teaching in Paris for 13 years. He started taking classes outside in September 2019. In France this practice is not very widespread but is gaining some popularity, especially after the covid pandemic. Alexandre has also spoken at numerous conferences and has written a book for teachers about outdoor learning (Faire Classe Dehors). Thanks to the Erasmus Plus program, he was able to visit forest schools in Sweden, Germany and New York. He is now ‘class outside mission manager’ for l’Académie de Paris and he is in charge of the first forest school in Paris. He also runs the website and the Instagram account alex_maclassedehors.

Usefull links related to the Solution

Solution Website


Alexandre, a teacher in a pre-school in Paris, started leading outdoor education sessions in September 2019. Every Thursday, with his class, he went to the park and explored free-play pedagogy. A lot of teachers started to be interested in the practice but many found it difficult to implement the outdoor free-play sessions themselves due to a lack of information on the pedagogy. This led Alexandre to propose to the mayor of Paris to create a “forest school”, where he could welcome teachers for three days, with their classes, to experience and learn about outdoor education leading to the teachers continuing the practice after the experience.

Theory of Change

If children are exposed to nature regularly, for example, every week, they become familiar with nature, learn to know it, to no longer be afraid of it, and to respect it. It is also true that people respect more what they know. Alexandre believes that exploration is the first step to knowledge.

Approach and Actions

The forest school is held in a Parisian square which is gradually becoming wild. The idea is to offer children a field of exploration, rich in discoveries of nature: pieces of wood, leaves and stones are found across the site. The idea is to awaken the children’s curiosity and senses. Sensory learning is at the heart of this pedagogy. The idea being that if one feels something with their whole body, they will remember the concept better.

Each class and their teacher visit the site for three consecutive days. The children spend the three days exploring and experiencing all the site has to offer. On-site, an outdoor learning expert welcomes the class, suggests activities and teaches the teacher to take time to observe their students more. The teacher also has the opportunity during the three days to test certain practices.

After the three-day visit, the teacher is encouraged to continue outdoor education close to their school, one day a week is suggested as a good starting point. Alexandre or a team member can accompany the teacher and class in this new environment on their first outing if that is helpful.


This is a new learning experience which has only been running for a few months so the impact so far is hard to discern. Alexandre sees the impact the project will have as difficult to quantify but he is confident that, with the support he and his team offer, after taking part in the three-days of experiential learning and teacher training the teachers will continue their outdoor learning practice. Also, he is sure that the children, having spent three days outside, will remember their experience for a long time.

Outdoor education also has many other long-term benefits including to students’ health and through engaging in free play students improve their self-confidence and cooperation skills. Alexandre and the team have also observed clear improvements in children’s learning, especially the youngest children’s language development.