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Special Educational Needs & Disabilites (SEND)

“While we see the forest, a person with ASD will see every single leaf on every single branch on every single tree in the forest”

- Paul Fijal

By focusing on challenging young people with learning and other disabilities through outdoor adventure, a visit to Lymley Woods is not just about fun, it's about developing personal skills that can be taken into everyday life, including:

  • building self-confidence

  • gaining independence

  • making new friends

  • acquiring new hobbies and skills. 

  • enrichment in the life of each individual through adventure and personal achievement

  • recreational skills that can be transferred into everyday living

  • personal development and rehabilitation leading to integration


Watch Violetta's video about her camping trip to Lymley Wood.

Lymley Wood enables young people with additional needs to achieve their potential through the challenge of outdoor adventure in the countryside. Spending time in nature combines firing creativity and enhancing learning, with building the independence and wellbeing of pupils.

Each visit provides the opportunity to try something new in a safe and caring environment. By pushing these boundaries with the support of our instructors, young people feel empowered and more comfortable about trying new things.

The outdoors also provides a new setting to take on challenges, and learn life skills without even realising it. Young People  with SEN benefit from how the outdoors relieves stress and anxiety, develops social skills, motivates learning across the curriculum (and beyond) and allows them to be practical, responsible and productive members of the wider community.


The potential for outdoor education to foster independence is particularly beneficial for SEN students, according to Andrew Colley, lecturer in special education at the Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London. “SEN students have often learned helplessness and passivity because, consciously or not, we as practitioners exert a huge amount of control and [going outdoors] forces us to relinquish that,” he explains. “Giving SEN students that feeling of space, and the sensory stimulation that comes with being outdoors, is absolutely vital.”

Outdoor activity requires students to adapt to unpredictable weather and the changing seasons, and this can be another positive challenge, says Dr John Crosbie, former director of UK charity the Calvert Trust, which provides outdoor activities for people with disabilities. “The ability to try and relate to situations is a real challenge for children on the autism spectrum, and so is being flexible with their view of order, timescales and routine; being outdoors challenges this,” he explains.

Unfortunately Lymley Wood does not currently cater for young people who use wheelchairs or need hoists for toileting. We are working hard to make sure we can accommodate all young people in the near future. 

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