Youtube video of the recorded webinar. Select to view.

Summary & Collated Notes

Topic: Coping with the easing of lockdown and adapting to COVID 19


Contributors: Helen Fairest & Matt Hard

Webinar Style: ‘Around the Hearth’ – Community Sharing

Total Number Registered: 209

Total Number attended: At 8pm –  90. Max .106,  at 9pm – 94, at 9.30pm – 60   

  1. Welcome from Chairperson (Froo),
  • Update from the FSA (Froo):

Please see Video for detailed content.

  • Intro to this webinars topic & Chat with practitioners Matt Harder and Helen Fairest

Matt Harder (in a Primary School context), discussed issues that Covid Measures presents for FS:

  • Having to work in large groups (classes of 30)
  • Lower adult ratios due to ‘bubbles’ – had to use governors on some occasions
  • Equipment being sterilised between sessions – limiting the amount of kit, using eco-friendly steriliser in a dip bucket – called ‘Selgiene Ultra’.  
  • Matt talked about Risk-Benefit guidance from the FSA – Link to the risk-benefit analysis guidance
  • Matt talked about his risk assessment that had been created using the FSA guidance for his setting and was asked to share it on the blog – Link to shared risk assessment document

Helen Fairest (working as Freelancer FS provider), discussed key challenges post lock down:

  • Viability – how many children can we run with and is that financially viable?
  • Ability to socially distance
  • Interpretation of Gov advice for Out of School Settings –
  • Changeable circumstances – e.g. staff illness
  • So many Decisions – Dealing with Risks, different documents and changing information

& also solutions she has found useful:

  • Guidelines coming from Government
  • Supporting documents from the FSA interpreting guidance for FS
  • Sharing with others awareness of health, and ethics
  • Phased re-opening- as a workplace, phased decisions

Useful links to Gov Guidance:

  • Attendees split off into 13 Break out rooms to discuss & share their own experiences of adapting to COVID, including; issues that have arisen and solutions found
  • The Whole group came back together to share their thoughts:

Break out Room 1 Summary –

  • Box systems
  • Preparing bags of resources for each child, and portion clay into tubs
  • Dunk buckets for sterilisation
  • Ask parents to provide gloves
  • Biggest challenge was reduced staffing

Break out Room 2 Summary –

  • Some issues were very site dependant e.g. fire circle
  • Some people said the social distancing had encouraged school staff to get more involved
  • Have a code word for social distance
  • Use ‘blood bubble’ metaphor over more activities
  • Using less kit as a positive

Break Out Room 3 Summary –

  • Discussed about modelling emotional literacy skills of how we are feeling as leaders and sharing with children
  • Also about importance of self care.

Break Out Room 5 Notes –

  • Using a Tippy tap –introduce ways to practice this and making it routine
  • Social distancing – how to encourage children to do this?
  • Spending time preparing site before groups come. Noticed that staff are hesitant at touching things when other children have been in the area. Possibly compounding issues around being outside generally (another excuse)
  • Discussed benefits of UV light and air movement.
  • Den building query – Risk Assessment. Discussed the different types of dens and how that may affect social distancing and air flow.
  • Parents and child club – different bubbles up to 15. Not trying to socially distance kids and allowing adults to make own decision.
  • Mental wellbeing outweighs risks?
  • Childminders – not sure if they can attend due to new rules?
  • In school children have been told to socially distance from teachers but not each other.
  • Cycle of concern – is it worth it? Changing guidance? Mixed interpretations from different organisations – very tricky. But know the children will get so much out of it.
  • Snacks – individual portions, not shared or help yourself
  • How to put in measures that don’t freak out the children?
  • Using Tools? – do you have to wipe them down and how would adult socially distance if supporting tool work?
  • Tree climbing – shared surfaces. Discussed regular handwashing as a mitigation.
  • Having multiple handwash stations
  • Bubbles of 15 – or can you have more? Discussed different ways of working

Break Out Room 10 Notes:

  • Ropes – Keeping them for 72 hours or using them with only that group
  • No soft toys or hammocks.
  • Hemp ropes possibly better than plastic/paracord
  • Split resources including puzzles/crayons/mud kitchen stuff
  • Toddler groups – reduced numbers for social distancing. Individual bags for families.
  • Guidance for last Tuesday – exemptions (playgroups)
  • Working with adults – tricky to run, but further education independent provider is an exemption
  • Children to make tippy taps for themselves – UNICEF tippy tap? 4-pint water bottle.
  • Link to see a UNICEF tippy Tap
  • Soapwort/horse chestnut leaves as natural soap?
  • Cooking – what to provide? Still doing, own cups. Biscuits in paper bags. Limited adult serving drinks.
  • Bowls for smores, try not to touch the food.
  • Forest School nursey – all bring packed lunches. 
  • Miss Elvy’s curious school of the wild – article recently about procedures for cooking
  • Strip back equipment – try not to use anything except what you find.

Break Out Room 11 notes:

  • Taking part in a Council project to focus on wellbeing.  Schools back in bubbles, positives to be outside, staff relaxed about distancing.  Tool use is tricky when using bowsaw, will now wear mask as face to face work.  Emphasis on hand washing as opposed to cleaning tools.
  • Scotland rules are different…
  • After school clubs and Saturday clubs, stopped for 3 months initially.  Started back doing sessions at end of July.  Children don’t have to socially distance.  Schools not willing to bring pupils out due to staffing ratios.  Washing hands between activities.  Cleaning of equipment has to be done when an adult touches equipment. 
  • Individual bags of equipment created.  Competitions to dress the peg doll in the bag. Not using tarps or ropes…but Go Ape aren’t cleaning ropes between users, so maybe it’s ok?
  • Tricky to keep distance from students
  • Schools are inconsistent about direction as to how much sanitising/handwashing is required.  Seem to be more relaxed with younger children. 
  • Handwashing is key. 

Breakout Room 12 notes:

  • The bubbles – how do I make them safe? One solution: do everything outside so that no-one is moving in and out – already in their outdoor clothes. The more I am NOT in their classrooms the less likely I will be to transmit anything.
  • Asking for additional adult support also complicates the bubbles
  • Different boxes for different bubbles – Tuesday’s box
  • Concentrate more on keeping hands clean perhaps more than equipment? We can’t clean the trees, but we can clean hands!
  • Inconsistency very confusing. V hard for common sense to prevail sometimes!!! Frustrating that playgrounds can be open, but some are insisting that
  • Tippy tap design discussed.
  • Discussed how we served food and drink. – Some settings asked children to bring their own cutlery in; or use it once only

Break Out Room 13 Notes:

  • Some people had started running sessions. In Scotland children under 12 don’t have to socially distance.
  • One freelance leader ran sessions for small groups of parents and children as lockdown lifted. Difficulties with parents wanting to bring babies and with Government Guidelines this was tricky. The leader rang Business Support Network who sent her along to environmental health who said that she was able to have 30 including sibling babies. This makes it less viable as the babies are taking a potential paying child’s place. Restricting adults to 1 adult per family.
  • We felt that we had all seen great benefits for the children coming.
  • A practitioner wanted verification that it was ok for children to not socially distance and she had put it in her terms & conditions that she wasn’t.
  • One leader was working in a school setting and has had her first session. Children are not socially distancing and that’s in line with school rules. She has a dip bucket for cleaning and no hammocks. She had lots of independent activities planned and will introduce tool use as time goes by.
  • Some are struggling to get back to their sites as separate from school and schools aren’t allowing their children to go out to them.
  • With regard to cleaning the site – there was a discussion about what people are cleaning and what they are not. Some people are not cleaning mud kitchens, toys eg. plastic dinosaurs, trowels etc are being cleaned. Some children had individual pairs of gloves. Hands are being sanitised before and after using fire steels etc.
  • Leaders are seeing themselves as the risk and are aware of socially distancing and not sharing or using the same tools.
  • Tarps are being quarantined for 72 hours between uses. Leaders are finding they are having to buy more equipment.
  • What are people doing with their own jackets and PPE? Are people quarantining their waterproofs or washing them after a single use? One leader in Scotland was asked by her setting to leave her waterproofs on site and not wear them outside the setting.
  • One leader has not been allowed by her school to go back as the school is prioritising the classroom and settling the children into school again
  • Big thanks to All for contributing to discussions & to Matt and Helen for sharing at the start of the webinar


Attendees who wished to remain had 2 choices:

  1. To continue discussing COVID
  2. To join a sharing circle, community building, uplifting session (Sarah)

Participants joined relevant room

Continued COVID Discussions – 38 people participated

General Discussion & Sharing:

Discussed Cooking – Individual bowls, utensils etc for each child

Link to Blog & FB page – Miss Elvy’s Curious school of the wild – Link to see the curious school of the wild blog and Facebook page

Discussed conflict of leadership – normally promoting risk taking and now being more cautious and with specific protocols. Reducing children freedom?

Has anyone been prevented from starting programmes?

  • Mixed class groups – as class bubbles
  • Local Authority – difficulty getting approval, reports going to highest level, using photographs to show how FS will work.

Tips for Risk Assessment to share with Parents?

FSA template. Not much has changed in gov guidance since 10th August. Link to the FSA covid Risk Benefit guidance

Discussed shared kit – e.g. Gloves

  • If in bubbles and have handwashing, can quarantine kit until following week
  • Cannot use Milton/bleach on metal
  • Can get wipes that are designed for wiping down computers/keyboards

Discussed Benefits of lockdown:

  • Don’t need to take out a lot of kit
  • Increase in creativity – focus more on nature
  • Problem solving – creative solutions and new skills e.g. tippy tap

Sharing Circle –  

  • Sarah invited people to find some treasure – to show and tell. How does it reflect how you are feeling?
  • Importance of Emotional Intelligence at FS and how to support this
  • Book References –
    • Annie Davy – A Sense of Place: Mindful Practice Outdoors
    • Phillipa Perry – The Book you wish your parents had read (and your children will be glad you did)

Everyone Came back together for the final closing – 60 people

Final Thoughts (Sarah)

Write a couple of words in chat bar about how you are feeling or how things are for you right now:


  • Relieved and reassured
  • re – enthused
  • Inspired
  • Grateful
  • community
  • Connected
  • rooted
  • Normalising
  • Inspired
  • Supported
  • comforted
  • confident
  • reassured and happy
  • excited, enthused and ready to get going!!
  • grateful
  • Tired
  • friendship
  • better
  • Reassured
  • relief
  • reassured
  • reassurance and optimism
  • confident
  • grateful
  • connected validated
  • supported and connected
  • Inspired and hopeful
  • bubbling anxiety mixed with tired and reassurance
  • connected and not alone.
  • Thank you everyone
  • Grateful, happy, optimistic
  • Supported, optimism
  • thank you all very much…
  • Connected
  • Excited, reassured, proud to be part of such a committed, kind community who have learners at the heart of what we do #forestschoollove 🙂
  • Thank you everyone, lovely to see people feeling uplifted too
  • Comforted and reassured but still a bit anxious
  • supported
  • human
  • I feel like we have been doing lots of things the same as everyone else and so reassured.
  • gratitude and blessings for all that everyone is doing 🙏
  • Thank you all
  • Grateful

Meeting Closed: 9.40

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