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The value and application of learning outdoors.

Timber!

Timber! is a new website providing free, cross curricular, and creative resources, activities, and practical ideas on British trees and forests and their value.  Many of the resources have been developed and used with young people both indoors and outdoors by teachers and Forest School Leaders in Oxfordshire in partnership with the Sylva Foundation team.

Timber!says:

If you are an early years practitioner, primary or secondary teacher, Forest School Leader or educator at an environmental education centre or museum, you are sure to find inspirational and unique ideas here!  You can also share your own ideas and resources on British trees and forests and their value. Be part of this exciting national resource that aims to increase young people’s connection to our trees and inspires learning about woodlands and forestry and their importance to all our lives.

 

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Free Trees for Primary Schools

The Forest of Avon Trust has teamed up with national charity: the Woodland Trust to provide a great FREE shrub/ tree offer to local primary schools.

The FREE tree packs contain 30 shrubs/ trees and you can choose between species suitable for a small hedgerow or copse, meaning that the many benefits of trees can be brought to your school, however small your space is; we also provide guidance to help you decide what is best. 

The packs of 20- 60cm shrubs/ trees are ideal for planting by school children and each comes with a spiral guard and cane for protection.    

The Forest of Avon Trust can advise on site suitability, planting density, species choice, longer- term care and how to get your free trees. 

The deadline to order this winter’s tree packs (up to 2 per school) is January 6th 2017, (for delivery and planting in March), so please get in touch with Anna Brunton for details of how to get them by emailing: woodlands@forestofavontrust.org or by calling  her on 0117 963 3383.

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New Gruffalo learning pack launched

The Forestry Commission’s National Learning Team has developed an official Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack which is linked to the Early Years and Key Stage 1 curriculum and is themed around the well-known Gruffalo story and characters.

It’s designed to provide teachers with the tools and activities to help children learn about forests through hands-on, practical activities.

You can download the pack here, or email rachel.giles@forestry.gsi.gov.uk for more information.

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New report on outdoor learning

There’s a new report on outdoor learning in the UK drawn up by the Blagrave Trust, The Institute for Outdoor Learning, University College London, and Giving Evidence.

It’s title is: The Existing Evidence-Base about the Effectiveness of Outdoor Learning

Organisations, such as the Forest of Avon Trust, that get involved in activities that fall under the outdoor learning umbrella, will be interested in this report, but it may be a disappointing read for many as it does not paint an altogether positive picture of activity leading to effective learning – nor of the effectiveness of the research and evaluation studies that are routinely carried out by those involved in outdoor learning.

This is how the short ‘conclusion’ section ends [for some reason it starts with point No. 6].

We recommend:

6. Types and volume of activity: Pulling together the various data sources on this to give the current picture, and creating a system to regularly capture data on the types and volumes of activity.

7. Improving practitioners’ theories of change: both enabling them to create them, and to use them.

8. Convening practitioners, researchers and others to prioritise research topics.

9. Managing the resulting sector-wide research agenda, through relationships with funders, and possibly creating partnerships between practitioners and researchers.

10. Ensuring that both interventions and research are described clearly, fully and publicly.

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News from the FEN

The Forest Education Network [FEN] was set up in 2012, as the successor to the Forest Education Initiative.

FEN seeks to support education that takes place in forest and woodland settings, and promotes networking and the sharing of good practice amongst all who do this.  It also aims to facilitate communication between the sectors and practitioners involved.

As a free networking organisation, FEN tries to provide an information, signposting and support service for members that are themselves directly involved with providing or promoting forest education opportunities – just as the Forest of Avon does.

Two recent stories featured by FEN are:

FEN is hosted by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) and covers activities and networks in England.  For Scotland, click here, and for Wales, here to access the equivalent organisations.  There is also a diverse and active GB-wide FEI Facebook group.  You can access FEN Members Bulletin No. 12 (December 2015) here.

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John Muir Training Session

The Forest of Avon Trust continues to develop its work as part of Natural Connections Demonstration Project, one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK. As ‘hub leader’ for North Somerset, we are excited to be supporting schools to forge links between each other, and with outdoor learning providers, to improve and extend learning in the natural environment.

The John Muir award is a key part of supporting and recognising schools and individuals in developing unique and valuable experience in the natural environment. This award works so well to support the this project as it is flexible to meet the needs of each group and also captures not only learning and development in natural spaces but also supports groups to look after and improve these spaces for people and wildlife.

It is great news that the John Muir award team are going to work with one of our key Beacon schools – Clevedon Secondary School – to run some training on Wednesday 26th March to support schools and professionals in North Somerset and the wider area to develop new opportunities for outdoor activities and explore using the John Muir award to capture this. If you would like to book on this please follow this link.

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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

 

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Inspiration for outdoor learning – Inset Day

Group under and around a willow tree

Creating a poem about a willow

We recently ran an Inservice training day with Charborough Road Primary School (whom we have worked with before to create a mini orchard) in North Bristol to explore a range of outdoor activities that would engage their pupils with the natural spaces in their grounds. The day focused on a range of creative and practical approaches to explore outdoor spaces, including – exploring colours and creating a natural mosaic and making natural perfumes. More »

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Woodland Activity Family Day

Marshmallows being cooked.

Cooking on the fire.

The Forest of Avon Trust in partnership with with Bristol Adoption Support Service has run a day for 30 people in the woods at Ashton Court Estate. The family groups went on a short walk across the top of Ashton Court Estate exploring natural colours that can be found in the landscape. Then, in a small woodland clearing the group  spent the day enjoying games and activities in the woods, as well as having a relaxing lunch and marshmallows toasted on the fire.

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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.

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