education for a
a school, a tribe,
a community of scholars
Each child will thrive in their discovery of self-knowledge, nature and ingenuity, applying their creativity and imagination as architects of a more resilient, collaborative and interconnected future.
Our education is rooted in our local environment. The forests, beaches and historical sites close to the school enable our students to explore and experience concepts first-hand.
We believe in an unhurried school experience in which young people are able to learn at their own pace and become co-creators of the curriculum.
We engage in empathy-building as a way to authentically connect with each other and to become more compassionate individuals. This compassion and an acceptance of others then lay the foundation for taking action to improve the world.
Alma Forest is an intentionally small school. We are a tribe of learners where everyone is known, heard and has the opportunity to contribute. This allows the school to remain flexible and be responsive to the needs of all community members.
Located on a Spanish finca just outside of Sotogrande, we have the good fortune to enjoy not only expansive views across to Gibraltar and Morocco, but also fields to play on, trees to climb and animals to care for. In addition to this we make good use of the surrounding natural parks and beaches to immerse our learning in the natural environment.
We value discovery over teaching. Our curriculum explodes boundaries and disciplines so that our students can follow their interests and marvel at all the world has to offer. Co-creating journeys of discovery with our students lies at the heart of what we do.
Internationally accredited and staffed by experienced educators, we ensure that our students are given ample opportunities to develop academically while embarking on these journeys of discovery. Small class sizes and an intentionally small school enable us to support each student individually, allowing them to work at a pace suited to their level of maturity and developmental needs.
As a community of learners we value an open and honest exchange of ideas and build relationships based on a shared humanity, with all its flaws, rather than identities centered around being a ‘teacher’ or ‘student’. As a tribe, we make Alma Forest a home where we can all come to know ourselves better and develop a life-long love of learning and discovery.
This model of education feels and looks different. It is best understood by coming to visit our school, talking to our teachers and students and taking in the space and atmosphere. It is a place where students and teachers come alive.
Escuela Bosque Ages 3-6
Our pre-school is rooted in the Forest School tradition. Children spend their day outside, learning in and from nature. Experienced forest school educators guide the children to expand their horizons and support their developmental needs. Children have a choice to access a variety of activities throughout the day and learn in both English and Spanish. The students are able to take their learning around the immense grounds of the farm and forest, engaging their interests in a deep and meaningful way, with learning initiated equally by the student, the teacher, and the environment.
Primary School Ages 6-11
Our curriculum draws from different educational traditions. Our academic workshops are based on international standards, using resources developed by and used in international schools around the globe. What sets us apart is that we incorporate these workshops into transdisciplinary projects which are co-created with our students and which are guided by their interests. In addition to this, pupils spend around 25% of their time in school working on self-directed projects that they choose, plan and complete with the support of their peers and teachers. All this is underpinned by a focus on the natural environment as inspiration, teacher and classroom.
Students coming from traditional schools adjust very well but might need a bit of time getting used to having more freedom and responsibility. Given our small group sizes, students are given time and space to adjust with the support and guidance of our teachers and older pupils.
In regards to academics, our students work towards the same levels as their peers in other schools and our teaching resources are drawn from curricula used by the top international schools around the world. Students that have spent time at Alma Forest leave with a set of skills that will enable them to thrive as independent learners in any environment.
In Escuela Bosque, each day begins with a story, mindfulness and culture building exercises. Thereafter, the children are introduced to the weekly nature-based theme (e.g. earthworms, weather patterns, bugs, etc). Following the morning circle time, children are able to explore on their own or engage with some of the teacher-led activities which will enable them to experience the various nature-based themes more deeply.
Our Primary School students also begin the day with a morning circle that is focused on empathy, relationship building and the exchange of ideas. On days that are spent in school, there are usually some academic workshops in the morning followed by time for the whole primary group to explore their class project and personal projects. Depending on the class project, we might also spend days at the beach or in the forest. We often make changes to our plans in order to incorporate things happening on the farm, play in the mud or follow a spontaneous exploration of something that has caught our interest.
In the Escuela Bosque, the days run Monday to Friday, 9am to 2:30pm. We also run an after-school club until 5pm, separately invoiced.
In the Primary School, the day starts at 8:50am and ends at 3pm, Monday to Friday.
Alma Forest Sotogrande SL and Asociación Alma Forest reserve the right to admit, admit conditionally, place on the wait list, or deny admission to any candidate. An Admission is not final until the official Application for Enrolment received from the applicant has been formally approved by the Escuela Bosque or the Primary, as relevant, including when changing from the Escuela Bosque up to the Primary.
Catering. Parents may opt to subscribe for the catering service. The fees for catering are as follows:
- Students in Escuela Bosque: €85 per month
- Students in Primary Group: €100 per month
After School Club. Alma Forest offers the option for students 3 to 6 years old, inclusive, to stay at school until 4.50pm. The fees for the After School Club are as follows:
- 2 days per week: €80 per month
- 3 days per week: €115 per month
- 4 days per week: €150 per month
We do not, at this time, offer a scholarship programme. As we grow we hope to change this so that our school becomes more accessible. However, should you believe that Alma Forest is the perfect place for your child but you don’t have the funds to cover the fees, please get in touch to discuss how we might be able to help.
There is an After Care programme for younger students that runs until 5pm Mon-Thurs. Other than that, we do not currently offer any activities outside of school hours. That said, most of our students participate in a variety of activities or sports offered by providers in the area. We are happy to support parents interested in enrolling their children in these activities.
We feel strongly that maintaining regular communication with parents is important. Forms of communication might vary for the different age groups. Our Ecuela Bosque parents receive daily updates while Primary School parents receive monthly newsletters. For both areas there is a Cluster photo website with regularly uploaded photos from life in school. In addition to this we have parent/teacher/child conferences and send home biannual reports. Of course, the informal chats at the beginning and end of each day also form an important aspect of our communication with parents.
In the Escuela Bosque, there is a ratio of teacher-to-student of 1:8.
In the Primary School, this varies for different age groups. Our younger groups are supported by a teacher and a teaching assistant while the older children have a class teacher. Class sizes do not exceed 15 learners.
We believe that our model of education is best suited to long-term enrolment. Children need some time to get used to freedom and responsibility in order to gain the most from what we offer.
We are inspired by many schools around the world but do not emulate any individual model. We take ideas from Forest Schools, especially in the Escuela Bosque, and supplement these with practices and philosophies from international, democratic and self-directed education. This hybrid approach best fits our students and location.
We do not have uniforms. However, due to our approach to learning there is a list of items the children will need. This includes clothing for various weather conditions and activities such as hiking and snorkeling.
There is no English language requirement. As an international school we support children who are learning English as an additional language.
We do not currently have a bus service. However, we do put parents in touch with each other should they request us to do so for car sharing purposes.
We follow the old Scandinavian saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”. So, if it’s raining, students come to school dressed appropriately, with a rain jacket, boots, warm socks and weatherproof pants and send a spare set of warm clothes. Various weather conditions provide students the opportunity to explore and discover how the environment changes in all seasons.
Our students in Escuela Bosque are outside everyday apart from weather deemed ´extreme´ (i.e. high winds, hard rain, lightning and thunder) based on our risk assessment. In such cases, we do have indoor facilities where we move our day.
Meanwhile, our Primary students do have permanent classroom spaces and will spend more time in these areas in inclement weather.
We have a rigorous professional development programme. This includes training that all staff receive such as Outdoor First Aid and Child Protection and individual professional development plans for staff that address areas individuals want to strengthen or become experts in. We are continuously on the look-out for training that helps further our vision and support staff in their journey to becoming even better teachers.
Parents are currently able to opt into the catering option at an additional cost or students can bring a packed lunch to school.
All children bring a morning snack to school as well as water. We encourage healthy snacks and recommend that parents avoid sugar or processed foods for snacks and/or lunches.
We have a 3-step process for enrolment:
- We have a 3-step process for enrolment: We set up a Zoom call or a physical tour of the school to walk you through our approach and ethos. Prior to this meeting, we recommend that you read this website and our social media pages to get a feel for what our school is like.
- You are asked to fill out this enrolment form (please click here to open in a new window) providing us with as much information as you can to enable us to learn more about the prospective student and your family.
- Finally, we require that students join for a trial period of a few days before we are able to extend an offer to join. This is to ensure that Alma Forest is the best environment and approach for your child.
We ensure that any use of technology enhances the learning of our students. Digital technology is introduced in the Primary School to help learners record their progress in a digital portfolio and to conduct research. Throughout their time at Alma Forest, students will learn about digital literacy and how to use technology to create art and communicate ideas.
At Alma Forest, there are no formal assessments. Our experienced teachers keep ongoing records of learners’ progress. Small group sizes allow us to make sure every child is individually supported according to their needs.
At Alma Forest, we often go on trips to explore the environment around the school or locations further afield. We often visit the beach and forests close by, and as the children move into primary school there are also multi-day trips.