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Activities that follow the Forest School philosophy and model.

Training with the Forest of Avon Trust

Scott shows his whittled spoon

Scott Burnett is an art psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with people creatively and therapeutically outdoors. Scott hopes to combine his Forest School training with his art therapy training to provide environmental arts therapy workshops. This is Scott’s blog post about his experiences of the Trust’s Level 1 Forest School training:

“I did my Level 1 training with the Forest of Avon Trust at Lawrence Weston Community Farm. I was hoping to develop a basic level of knowledge and skills to lead outdoor workshops with groups of children or adults. I also hoped that this would provide a good introduction to the Level 3 Forest School Leader training that I’m also planning to do.

“I really enjoyed the two days of training. Jon Attwood lead the sessions very well including a good mix of practical and creative activities in the woodland. This was combined with some ‘classroom’ learning about things such as: the Forest School approach, effective risk management, assessing Forest School sessions, and what Forest School can provide to groups in terms of learning and personal development.

“With my art therapy background, I particularly enjoyed learning new creative activities such as making leaf prints on cotton, using natural clay to make animals, mud painting, putting clay faces into tree trunks and writing poems/reflections about our experience of a particular tree. I also enjoyed learning the more practical woodland skills such as making fire with a fire-steel, camp cooking and putting up a tarp shelter.

“A big part of the experience was sharing activities with a diverse group of fellow trainees. It was a really good opportunity to build networks with like-minded people and I have kept in touch with a few of the people following the training.

“The Level 1 training helped me to build confidence in working with groups outdoors and provided me with new skills as well as potential outdoor activity ideas. I’ve already incorporated some of the creative ideas into my own environmental arts therapy workshops.”

Scott has now started his Level 3 Forest School training with the Forest of Avon Trust. If you are interested in Forest School Level 1 or Level 3 courses or other training with the Trust, please go to: http://forestofavontrust.org/training/

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Natural Connections launch for Somerset, Bristol & Wiltshire

Natural Connections, one of the largest outdoor learning initiatives in the country, is coming to Somerset, Bristol and Wiltshire. This new educational project aims to inspire and connect school children with the natural environment by supporting and promoting teaching outdoors. David Bond, the inspiration behind Project Wild Thing, will launch Natural Connections on 27 June at a conference at Ashton Court.

80 local primary and secondary schools will work together through Natural Connections to develop a culture of taking learning outdoors. The project hopes to inspire and engage teachers, pupils, parents and volunteers. Teachers can also benefit from specially tailored online resources and links to local partners as well as information on additional funding sources for outdoor projects. Schools in Somerset and Wiltshire are supported by the Forest of Avon Trust, and in Bristol by Lighting up Learning.

Natural Connections Project Manager Ian Blackwell said: ‘Parents, teachers, businesses, communities… Everyone has the same ambition over the coming years. We all want to see children enjoy learning, keep healthy, and achieve more in our schools. We hope that access to local outside spaces for lessons through the Natural Connections Project will help achieve this.’

Jim Burt, Principal Advisor for Outdoor Learning at Natural England said: ‘The Government wants to see every child in England given the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural environment… Feedback from teachers and schools participating in the trial to date has been overwhelmingly positive.’

The Natural Connections conference, on Friday June 27, is open to schools, partners, community groups and outdoor learning providers from across the area. You are welcome to attend the event to find out how to get involved in the project and to discuss partnerships. To book a place email telephone Sam Wilson: 07 90 77 53 100 or email: info@lightinguplearning

Natural Connections Hub Leaders manage the project at local level, in partnership with Plymouth University. The Forest of Avon Trust is hub leader for Somerset and Wiltshire. For more information please contact Jon Attwood on: (0117) 963 3383 or email: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Download the Natural Connections Conference flyer (pdf) for 27 June.

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News, Natural Connections Demonstration Project, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

Volunteering with Forest of Avon Trust

Portrait photo of Scott Burnett in the woodsScott Burnett is an art psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with people creatively and therapeutically outdoors in local woodlands. Scott has a written this blog post about his experiences as a volunteer with the Forest of Avon Trust:

“I wanted to volunteer at the Forest of Avon Trust because it’s a great opportunity to participate in the various activities that the charity provides to help build my skills, knowledge and experience of working with groups outdoors.

“I’ve really enjoyed volunteering on the Woodland Works workshops with adults with learning disabilities run by Rachel Tomlinson and Nicola Ramsden. I learned a great deal from Rachel and Nicola about leading workshops like these and enjoyed seeing how much the participants clearly get from activities such as coppicing, dry-hedge building, sawing, fire-making and camp-cooking.

“In a recent workshop we did a pond dip. It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic and focused the participants were to identify pond wildlife. We were all impressed at how big and ‘mean’ the predator dragon-fly larvae looked!

“I was also fortunate to be able to help Jon Attwood when he led a Level 1 Forest School course  and workshops for teachers, play workers and other trainees. Whilst helping out I was able to learn from Jon’s long experience of providing Forest School activities and training.

I’ve already used one activity in my own environmental arts therapy workshops: the group make a circle of wood on the ground and divide it into segments, one for each person. Standing in a segment, each group member faces outwards and walks into the wood to spend time alone reflecting. They also bring back some natural objects that they find, which the group discusses. This activity may seem simple enough, but it offers so much in helping people to immerse themselves in the experience of being in a woodland and sharing this with others in the group.

“I look forward to continuing my association with the Forest of Avon Trust in the future to continue building my knowledge and experience.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Forest of Avon Trust, please get in touch with Jon Clark at: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

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An introduction to Forest School

Level 1 Forest School traineesForest School is well-established as a great way to engage groups in woodland activities and support personal development. The Forest of Avon Trust is committed to this inspirational approach and we run accredited training to support outdoor enthusiasts to lead their groups.

During March we ran level 1 Forest School training courses at Lawrence Weston Community Farm and the trust’s Retreat woodland, near Bitton. These two day courses are a great opportunity for people to find out what Forest School is and to take away lots of practical activities and ideas to use with their groups.

Those on the course were enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get going leading their own groups. One participant commented: “Really amazing. Now I feel I can really do this”, another said: “This has re-lit my passion for learning outdoors”.

A combination of teaching staff, youth workers, parents and those wanting to develop outdoor businesses attended the training. Some of those doing the level 1 course will now go on to do the more demanding level 3 course so that they can become Forest School leaders.

Find out about the courses we run or book onto training at: http://forestofavontrust.org/training/

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Woodland Works

Collecting tree guards

Two groups of adults with learning difficulties have been visiting The Retreat over the last year to learn new skills and help us manage the woodland.

Last week people from Choices4U helped clear dozens of tree guards and create a small area of hazel coppice. Participants from The Milestone Trust’s Stepping Forward group have also been hard at work in the woods, creating a dead hedge and pond dipping amongst other things.

The Woodland Works project was funded by South Gloucestershire Learning Difficulties Development Board and The Baily Thomas Charitable Trust and has been running since last summer. Participants have learned about fire lighting, shelter building, safe use of tools and wildlife identification (in all kinds of weather!)

A support worker from Milestone Trust said: “The retreat experience gave the service users valuable outdoor experiences. Learning about safety outdoors and using tools and fire. They learned to work together as a team and did independent projects. Outdoor confidence grew as they learned to make things from nature… All ask to go back to experience more.”

Using hand made bows and arrows

It hasn’t all been hard work though! The groups have also had fun making bows and arrows, building shelters, making music and creating woodland art. The Retreat also provides a therapeutic environment to spend time sitting quietly, listening and watching, a chance to feel connected to nature.

If you are interested in finding out more about Woodland Works, please contact: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Forest School, Latest News | Tagged , , , , |

Developing our Forest School Training

Trainees captured in their hazel structure

Autumn 2013 Forest School Level 3 Training at The Retreat Woodland

‘I feel like I have been on a Forest School myself.’

‘I really enjoyed it and thought it was brilliant.’

‘It was good to slow down and being here was great.’

These were a few comments from our last Forest School Leader training course at the end of 2013. This year we continue to develop our accredited training, with courses starting in March and April, for those wanting to explore using the Forest School Approach with their groups. The Forest of Avon Trust is a member of the Forest School Association, the national governing body of Forest School, and after completing our training trainees will receive a years free membership. We are also part of the Forest School trainers network and use best practice and the latest updated structure for the accredited training we provide.

We have worked with a broad range of educational professionals and private individuals over the last year that want to lead groups following the Forest School ethos. We have provided on-going support and advice to help groups set up their Forest School programmes and identify spaces they can use and also improve for the future. Some individuals have gone on to set up their own successful businesses in offering a range of Forest School activities to their local schools and communities.

Through our wider educational work and passion for trees and woodlands we strive to help Forest School leaders and those wanting to take groups in to natural spaces to provide inspiring experiences and find links to key local networks. Through this outdoor leaders will be less isolated and are more able to succeed in developing their activities now and into the future.

 

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Showcasing our Work

The Trust celebrated its third ‘birthday’ in December by taking on the lease of The Retreat and by filming three videos at the site, illustrating our work.  Trust patron and One Show regular Mike Dilger took time out of his busy schedule to help us with this, working with local media production company Constellation Media.

We were supported in the films by Forest School trainees; children and staff from Bradley Stoke Community School; and representatives from some of the organisations, businesses and Councils we have worked with.

Jon Clark, Trust Executive Director, said:

‘It was a cold and windy day, so huge thanks to everyone who took part. It was really heartening to hear everyone’s commitment to the cause. I am really pleased with three short films, which I hope speak for themselves.’

A mention has also got to go to Manor Farm Shop for an excellent warming lunch.

The videos are below: (also available on our YouTube Channel)

Tree Charity: the Forest of Avon Trust

Click here to play the video

 Tree Action in and Around Bristol

Forest School Leader Training

Click here to play the video

 

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Business Sponsors, Community Partners, Forest School, Free Trees for Communities, Future Woods, Garden Forest, Join us as a Friend, Latest News, Natural Connections, Our Projects, Training activities | Tagged , , , , , |

Exploring the benefits of the Forest School approach

Person wearing a willow crown decorated with leaves

Activities at Ashton Court

The Forest of Avon Trust has been using the Forest School approach with a number of groups of adults with learning disabilities over the last few years. Getting groups out in to local woodlands to explore and undertake a range of activities that has brought them in to close contact with nature has been fun and beneficial. Through talking to those involved we have picked up on some common themes that demonstrate how individuals and groups can benefit from this small group based experience in a natural setting over a period of time. The following link explores this in more detail – Outdoor Activities with Adults with Learning Disabilities.

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Forest School, Natural Connections | Tagged , |

Forest School Training

Shelter in the woods

Forest School Training shelter building

Forest School is now well established as a fantastic way to engage groups in woodlands and nature and in supporting the personal development of those involved. A milestone in the development of the Forest School approach has now been reached with the launch of the new governing body.

The Forest of Avon Trust remains committed to this inspirational approach and supports education professionals to undertake Open College Network accredited training. July saw the successful delivery of another Level 3 course to a new group of trainee Forest School leaders. There will be a further opportunity on the 12th & 13th November for those wanting a good starting point in Forest School training to undertake the 2 day Level 1 OCN course. This will be delivered at Lawrence Weston Community Farm Woodland – more information can be found on their website.

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Big Green Week Woodland Conference

Keynote Speech in Water Vole Woodland at Lawrence Weston Community Farm

Keynote Speech by Rowena Kenny

The beautiful and sunny Water Vole Woodland at Lawrence Weston Community Farm was the excellent host for our Bristol Big Green Week woodland event. It was a great success with a fantastic turn out of over 40 professionals from education, social and health sectors attending. Rowena Kenny set the scene with an enlightening and inspiring talk exploring how children’s and adults’ relationships with the outdoors has changed over the past few decades and why it is so important that we are all able to get out into natural spaces.

More »

Posted in: Adults with Learning Disabilities, Forest School, Latest News, Natural Connections, Training activities |