Following consultation with and feedback from members (discussion link) the FSA board have agreed to make a number of significant changes to the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider Scheme. These are detailed below. Members have an opportunity to comment on these proposed changes below. Subject to these comments, revisions to the scheme are expected to be made and go ‘live’ on our website within the next two weeks. Please note that, running in parallel, the FSA will be undertaking a major consultation process on the Forest School principles. The outcome of this process may have an influence on the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider Scheme in due course but that is not expected to be completed before the end of this year.

Proposed changes:

  • Create an additional tier within the scheme to allow providers who run shorter programmes to be recognised by the FSA. There will be two tiers.
  • Tier 1 will have the same criteria as currently defined. This tier will recognise Forest School Providers.
  • The second tier will have the same criteria as tier 1 except for the minimum duration of the programme (6 weeks). This tier will recognise providers of programmes that introduce Forest School.
  • The threshold between tier 1 and tier 2, in terms of programme length, shall be ‘weekly sessions for at least 12 weeks (or one full school term) in one year followed by 12 weeks (or one full school term) in another year (encompassing a different season) with the same participants’.
  • Tier 2 applicants will need to make a ‘statement of aspiration’ to deliver long term Forest School programmes. FSA directors recognise that most members already understand that Forest School is ‘a long-term process, taking place regularly, ideally at least every other week, with the same group of learners, over an extended period of time, if practicable encompassing the seasons’. Most already aspire to deliver long term Forest School programmes but face barriers to doing so. The purpose of this statement is to encourage a clear understanding of what Forest School is, both within our community and beyond. It is not requiring members to deliver long term Forest School in the future.
  • In addition, the scheme will seek to learn how members are overcoming barriers to delivery of long term Forest School programmes so that these approaches may be reviewed and promoted by the FSA in the future.
  • The application form and associated guidance material will be revised to reflect these changes. Plain language will also be used and the number of documents reduced in order to make the process easier to follow.

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