Freedom to think outside – no box required

Experts by Experience: Profiles of entrepreneurs at different stages on their journeys, identifying and sharing some universal truths along the way.                 

Hannah Burns Forest School

Talking to Hannah Burns, founder of the Nurture by Nature Forest School, it’s clear that her development of this Community Interest Company in Norfolk is a natural stepping stone on a lifelong journey. Her own past “fighting against the system all the time” means she can empathise with the young people who come into her care.

The Forest School offers alternative education for 11-19 year olds with varying behavioural difficulties, at risk of being excluded from mainstream education. Hannah knows that, despite having a social worker for a mother and an IT technician father, she too could have been one of those young people.

Her classroom is a 6-acre woodland site south west of Norwich where the great outdoors brings a freedom to learn, away from the confines of a system that Hannah herself found constricting in a career that has embraced a variety of social care roles.

Nature by Nurture logo‘Discovering natural solutions’ is one way to describe the ethos behind the forest school movement – a Scandinavian import which addresses the often aggressive tendencies of troubled souls who may have lost touch with their inner feelings, have forgotten or have never known what it is to have physical exercise in natural surroundings, and are now re-discovering the delights of something most people take for granted in children – the ability to play.

It’s clear that nature intended Hannah should find her way to this outdoor escape from the school system. The seeds, it seems, were sown at an early age. “I have always loved camping and being outdoors (even though I had to be dragged out by my parents and drag my own children out now!) I enjoyed physical education at school and looked out of the classroom window far more than was good for my studies. I learnt about Forest Schools at a time when I felt frustrated by the mainstream; taking the opportunity to go freelance seemed the right thing to do.”

Hannah’s advice for others is passed on from her mother. “Be open to new ideas and experiences. Give something a try and if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry; it’s the trying that’s important. I stuck with jobs that didn’t suit me, resilient in the face of poor management for the sake of the children in my care, until other career stepping stones came along.”  

For young people, assessing and then taking measured risks is an important part of the learning process and for confidence-building.  For Hannah there is no less risk attached to her current venture, but no less reward either. It seems that the excitement of leaving a cosy and relatively stable career path behind is, in fact, the attraction of taking the route ahead.

Follow Hannah and the Nurture by Nature Forest School at

How are Hannah and Nurture by Nature doing in April 2016? Find out

Hannah was in the 2013-14 cohort of learners with the School for Social Entrepreneurs on
the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme at the Eastern Enterprise Hub in

5 thoughts on “Freedom to think outside – no box required

  1. Pingback: Getting out there | Enterprise Essentials

  2. Pingback: Growing your enterprise – Nurture by Nature | Enterprise Essentials

  3. Pingback: Growing your enterprise – Nurture by Nature | SSE

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