The FSA has produced guidance notes on the Forest School leader handbook – browse guidance notes

When running Forest School as a  qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader, it is your duty to ensure you comply with your legal responsibilities and best professional practice as set out by your employer, Health & Safety Executive, Local Authority, Government and your land owner.  You also have a duty of care to ensure the children and adults whilst in your Forest School sessions feel safe and are safe physically and psychologically.  Your Forest School handbook is an important professional document which forms a crucial part of your Forest School on going professional practice.

Detailed attention to Health & Safety is crucial to ensure a smooth running and safe Forest School.  Forest School programmes are run within a detailed framework of policies, procedures and risk benefit assessments.  These are put together in a Forest School handbook which accompanies your programmes and would be available to view on request by Ofsted, the Local Authority, Head Teachers, Governors, volunteers and parents.

Why is the Forest School Handbook important?

  • Professional integrity.  Having all appropriate paperwork in place demonstrates that the Forest School Leader is well prepared and considering good practice.  Undertaking the process of compiling a handbook can provide the leader with peace of mind as they have considered and planned for all likely foreseeable outcomes.
  • A communication tool.  Explaining what and how things are undertaken at your Forest School, to be shared with other staff, managers, client group leaders and parents.
  • Protect against litigation.  Accidents and incidents do happen.  Having all the necessary paperwork in place and up to date, will evidence Forest School Leader`s thought processes in managing health and safety, risk, safeguarding children, environmental impact etc, as far as is reasonably practical.
  • A legal requirement.  Under Health & Safety Law, employers (with more than 5 employees) must have a written Health & Safety Policy document for their work situation.  Organisations that work with children and vulnerable adults also need appropriate safe guarding policies.  Even employers with less than 5 employees, it is best professional practice to create, use and update a comprehensive Forest School Handbook.

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