I am engaged in research on outdoor learning, including farm visits and forest schools, as well as wider aspects concerning the relationship between children and nature. A list of publications follows further down this page.

I also support a range of other organisations through the following activities

2015 – present Trustee of Farms for City Children. This charity, set up by Clare and Michael Morpurgo 40 years ago, provides opportunities for city children to stay on farms in rural areas as a residential school trip.
2014 – present Member, Forest School Association Research Group
2013 – present Member of Countryside Classroom consortium, a group which have set up the Countryside Classroom website which contains resources to support teachers seeking to take the children to the countryside to learn.
2012 – present Member of Natural England’s Strategic Research Group for Learning in the Natural Environment
2010–2018 Trustee of School Food Matters, a charity promoting quality food provision and food education in London schools.
I am happy to be in contact with those seeking to set up forest school, or those interested in research.

Research Areas

Farm education

  • Farmers’ Motivations to host educational visits to farms.
  • Teachers’ views of farm visits

Forest School

  • What children are learning at forest school
  • The significance of being outdoors at forest school
  • Children’s responses to forest school

Outdoor science classes

  • Outdoor science classes using the OPAL environmental surveys


Harris, F. 2021 Developing a relationship with nature and place: the potential role of Forest School. Environmental Education Research 27 1214-1228 

Freeman, E.E. Harris, F. and Loynes, C. 2021 Nature Connection in Thomas, G; Dyment, J. and Prince, H.  Outdoor Environmental Education in Higher Education: International Perspectives, Springer.

Harris, F. 2017 Outdoor learning spaces: the case of forest school Area doi/10.1111/area.12360/full

Harris, F. 2015. The nature of learning at forest school: practitioners’ perspectives. Education 3-13.

Haubenhofer, D., Kaufman, M. Harris, F., Jolly, L 2013. Learning on Green Care Farms, in Gallis, C. (Ed.). Green Care. Nova Science publishers, N.Y.

Harris, F. 2012 The Use of OPAL survey materials in primary schools. Final report of research for OPAL, Imperial College, London.

Harris, F. 2010 Children and nature: Measuring success? Children, Youth and Environments 20(2), 2010.

Harris, F. 2009 Perspectives on educational visits to farms. Kingston University. Final report of research for Ernest Cook Trust.


Conference sessions organised

Sept 2015: Session convenor, Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, Children and Nature in the Anthropocene – Impacts of young people connecting with nature, Sept 3, 2015, Exeter University, UK

Aug 2011: Session convener, European Society of Rural Sociology Conference, Chania, Greece. The Potential Benefits Arising from Collaboration between Farms and Schools in Education.

October 2010: Seminar organiser and chair, “Children and nature: measuring success?” with Natural England, Forestry Commission and Essex University.


Full details of my academic research can be seen on https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Frances_Harris2. or on my research page at the University of Hertfordshire