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.
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
Tree Action in and Around Bristol
Forest School Leader Training
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
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.
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.
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.
Some quiet time to reflect.
Children playing outdoors and groups being taken in to natural spaces is nothing new. Forest School in the UK has been developed over the last 15 years through influences from Scandinavia but also from a long history in the UK of groups playing and learning outside.
What is starting to develop now is a wealth of both informal and formal observations and case studies of the benefits of supporting groups of all ages to access nature. Anyone who has come across Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods will be more than convinced by the need to get children out in to green spaces. Over the last 10 years Forest Research, which is part of the Forestry Commission, has expanded its research to explore in detail the ways in which trees benefit wider society. The breadth of evidence presented by Forest Research of spending time in woodlands along with books such as Sara Knight’s Forest School for All helps to establish the importance of these experiences for all of us.
Common themes emerge from Richard Louv’s overview of global research and of the work of Sara Knight and researchers at Forest Research. Experiences in nature, particularly but not exclusively for children, have the potential to provide the following key benefits: Increased confidence; Increased social skills; Improved language and communication; Improved motivation and concentration; Improved physical fitness and ability and increased levels of interest in and concern for nature. An important point as highlighted by Richard Louv is that if society does value the benefits of spending time in the natural world then it is important that children develop a lasting and caring relationship for it as they will be its future stewards.
Locally the work of the Natural Connections project, at the Forest of Avon Trust, and Rowena Kenny, of Forest Foundations, have explored these themes through case study projects in the Bristol area.
Rowena’s in depth Exploratory Case Study of Forest School in the Early Years Foundation Stage and her wider work can be found online here.
Jon Attwood’s case study project in partnership with Twerton First Steps Nursery in B&NES can be downloaded here.
Since June, Co-ordinator Jon Attwood, has been working with a group of 4 year olds First Steps Nursery in Bath undertaking a range of activities and exploratory play in Carrs Woodland in Twerton. The project is running for six weeks and will aim to explore the range of benefits this Forest School experience might have on the children involved. Activities such as using natural materials in art, making dens for animals, and cooking wild food will bring children directly in to contact with nature. In addition there will be time and space for creative child lead play.
Natural Connections has also worked with community leaders from the Black Environment Network to demonstrate the value of trees and woodlands as a way of introducing people to local green spaces. To find out more, email: firstname.lastname@example.org .