Forest School qualifications

IMPORTANT: Since 1st February 2018, Level 3 Forest School qualifications, awarded as a result of passing courses delivered purely on-line, will not be accepted for the ‘FSA Recognised Forest School Provider’ scheme.

Level 1 Award in Forest School Ethos and Principles

Level 1 is an introduction to Forest School and as such does not equip you to run Forest School. It gives you an idea of the principles and practice but does not equip you to lead a group. People who attend this are generally volunteer helpers, managers who don’t want to practise but need to know what the principles and elements of practise entail, and people who wish to dip their toes in before committing to becoming recognised leaders. As such, it is a short course. (30 hours and worth 3 credits.)

For example: AIM Qualifications Level 1 Award in Forest School Ethos and Principles 603/2924/5

Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants

Level 2 is designed to qualify a learner to become a Forest School assistant, enabling them to take a proactive role in helping a Forest School practitioner plan and deliver a Forest School programme and supporting the learners. This course is generally approximately 60 hours and worth 6 credits.

For example: AIM Qualifications Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants 603/2925/7

Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders

Level 3 is designed to qualify the trainee to become a Forest School Leader, able to set up and run a Forest School programme. Level 3 covers how to facilitate groups in a learner-centred way, and how to manage a Forest School site sustainably. It also covers the practical skills required of a Forest School Leader. Generally this course is approximately 180 hours and worth 18 credits.

For example: AIM Qualifications Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders 603/2926/9

FSA supported Awarding Organisations

There are a number of OFQUAL recognised awarding bodies that trainers work through. The FSA specifically supports the Awarding Bodies listed below. If you want recognition as a Forest School provider please ensure that your trainer is working with one of these Awarding Organisations. All FSA Endorsed Forest School Trainers offer eligible courses.

Agored Cymru (Qualifications in Wales framework)

AIM Qualifications and Assessment Group (incorporating the former Open College Network West Midlands Awarding Body)

ITC First

LASER Awards 

Newbattle Abbey College (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)


Skills and Education Group Awards

Qualifications Network UK

Within each awarding body, there will be a number of different levels of Forest School qualification, from level 1 to level 3 as described above.

FSA support for development of Forest School qualifications

The FSA hosts the Awarding Organisations’ forum for Forest School qualifications. All FSA-supported Awarding Organisations are members of this forum (those listed above). We cooperate to develop and standardise Forest School qualifications across the UK. As the professional body for Forest School, the FSA informs the industry interests and ensures good first with the market needs. 

The existing FSA-supported Forest School qualifications were placed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in 2018. Other awarding bodies are welcome to clone the curriculum and criteria. The FSA provide a letter of support to those awarding bodies who will commit to cloning the whole qualification as outlined in the RQF along with all the recommendations.

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