I qualified as a Level III practitioner in 2014 and set up Branching Out Forest Schools delivering Forest School to schools and organisations in and around Liverpool. I have worked with nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools, excluded teenagers and currently work with boys with emotional and behavioural challenges. I’m consequently really interested in the ‘emotional intelligence’ side to our work. In my ‘down time,’ I love time with my family or walking with friends – be they human or canine.
Chair of the FSA
A lifetime love of learning and trees has brought me to the place where I train and coach in nature. After 30 years of working for the local authority as a primary teacher, early years specialist, Forest School leader then trainer, I left to set up my own social enterprise, Where the Fruit Is. Through many years of voluntary youth work I have seen first-hand how technology and the very fabric of society has shifted, creating a generation of passionate, kind, connected and deeply anxious young people. I have also witnessed the positive impact of Forest School on some of the hardest to reach teenagers, disheartened and weary teachers, anxious children and whole school communities. Being a Director of the FSA gives me opportunities to share the potentially transformative approach to learning that Forest School offers. For me, Forest School is all about the business of learning to be a human being, rather than a human doing.
Together as a professional body of passionate learners we are providing a ‘grassroots’ voice for children, young people, families and outdoor educators within an increasingly ‘formal’ education system. Forest School offers a version of brave leadership much needed in our world today.
I’m an independent FS leader working on the Isle of Wight. I established my own FS company in February 2010. I’m level 3 Forest and Beach School qualified, as well as a Beach School trainer. Previously, I was a behaviour and emotional management therapist with the prison service. When I heard about FS I knew this was a way to help young people avoid social and educational pitfalls which may bring them into the prison system.
I am a Forest School Practitioner (Level 3) working with urban children in Portsmouth to reconnect primary school children with the natural world. I am a biologist by training and discovered Forest School while on a career breaking looking after my son. I set up Eco Urban Ranger in 2010 and work on a weekly basis with a number of schools. I first started volunteering for the FSA as part of working through the Accredited Practitioner of the Institute for Outdoor Learning programme. Following this experience, I decided to formalize my contribution to the FSA. I grew up with a love of the natural world.
Over the past 15 years, I have been a practitioner and Forest School trainer. As an active member of the Forest School community, I have been involved in setting up Forest School networks in Herefordshire, Bradford and in Cumbria where I’m currently based. Having worked in the voluntary sector, local authority, schools, and early-years settings as well as my current work as a freelancer I have the first-hand experience of the different ways Forest School can positively impact on the lives of children and young people and the adults who work with them.
I believe that Forest School is a powerful way of helping people of all ages to find their place in nature and reconnect to their ancient ancestral heritage. If we, the Forest School community, work cooperatively and creatively we can empower the people we work with to choose happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. I have always loved playing in nature and originally trained as an ecologist. Early in my career, I realised that it was more fun to have other people to play with outside and ended up working in the outdoor learning industry for the last 13 years. Since 2008 I have mainly worked as a freelance Forest School trainer and have coordinated the Forest School strategy for Norfolk Local Authority.
I passionately believe in working in a Forest School way with so-called ‘disaffected’ teenagers and I now manage the teenage programmes run at my centre in Worcestershire for those young people where the indoor school learning environment does not meet their needs – Forest School is helping them realise their own talents and gain a qualification! I manage and deliver the training programme run by the centre, which includes Forest School training. When Forest school came along it combined perfectly a previous vocation/passion of woodland management & education. I like nothing more than paddling the rivers on the Welsh borders, occasionally hanging out in a hammock while watching deer and spinning a yarn around the fire.
I currently am one of two directors of Children of the Forest (est. 2015) and Devon Forest Kindergarten (est. 2018) Children of the Forest operates the Ofsted registered kindergarten, toddler groups, home education groups and school projects. Children of the forest hosts around 100 visitors at our private woodland each week. I am also a host of ‘The Forest School Podcast’ which discusses research, interviews and contemporary issues as they relate to Forest School. I’ve been espousing the values of the FSA through ‘the Forest School Podcast’ in order to promote the FSA as a resource as well as to support and advise the community of leaders worldwide.
This summer I will also be embarking on my first cohort of level 3 students through OCNWM and am looking forward to exploring my new role as a trainer. My passion for Forest school and its community has already led me to speak in many public settings about forest school education and how it can benefit children. I am very excited to take up the responsibilities of a Director and to work alongside existing director and the wider FS community to develop our ethos, resources and ethos.
I’m a teacher in a state primary school, where I have been running the Forest School and outdoor learning programmes for 10 years. I currently teach 3 days a week, leaving the other days to fill with my own freelance Forest School and Bushcraft provision for a range of other schools, colleges and family groups. I work with children aged 2 to 92, sharing my passion of ancient skills, woodland preservation and management, outdoor cooking and messy play in our often overlooked natural environment.
When I look back I was always going to find myself working in the natural environment. A childhood in Kenya and it’s beautiful wildlife and wide open spaces was always going to leave a lasting impression.
I feel that children who have the opportunity to experience good quality Forest School have a similar opportunity, regardless of where they grow up. With the support of Forest School leaders who are able to facilitate these experiences, long lasting impressions can be made on young lives. Professionally I am keen to find ways that enable adults to give children in their care the permission they need to be able to play, explore and learn in the natural environment. To feel able to dispel the myths that surround risk, and enthusiastic about highlighting the benefits of risky play.
Being self-employed my work days and tasks are varied but always with the environment at its core whether it be training or consultancy. I am proud to be a volunteer Green Flag Judge for Keep Britain Tidy which keeps me on my toes with regards to the management of Green spaces and, of course, share information with regards to Forest School.
Co-Opted Advisor to the Board
I’ve been working and learning in the outdoors for over 20 years and am a Level 4 Forest School and Outdoor Learning Trainer. I’m part of the Cambium Sustainable Network of UK Trainers and my own company, Brightwood Training, trains people in the outdoors and helps those who need it most gain access to the outdoors. That’s why I love seeing the transformative effect Forest School can have on those in alternative education, school children who get access to adventures in the wild and supporting those with additional needs.
Training adults is rewarding to be able to give them the tools to work with the social and emotional development of their students, and it helps their wellbeing too. I also feel It’s really important that when I teach undergraduate students on their education degrees about the benefits of outdoor learning, I’m passing on the tools to inspire the next generation to connect with nature. The FSA underpins this quality of Forest School provision, and I’m really happy to work with members who share this passion.