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Forest School and other professional training that the charity provides.

High Praise for March Level 1: Introduction to Forest School Principles course at Kings Weston House, Bristol

Our recent Level 1: Introduction to Forest School Principles course held at at Kings Weston House, Bristol has been a great success. Over 2 days, the enthusiastic trainees were able to test the Forest School approach for themselves, whilst learning lots of practical activities and ideas to use with their groups.

We have already received some lovely feedback from the trainees about the course with high praise for our fantastic Training Director, Jon Attwood:

‘Very friendly, helpful trainer. Have lots of new ideas as well as gaining an insight into the administration/rules & regulations regarding Forest Schools. I am currently a parent volunteer and feel I am able to offer more within the Forest Schools sessions now – thank you’

‘I was quite nervous as to what to expect from Forest School but I found John to be a really down to earth guy who made this seem much less scary!….the setting was brilliant, the house was really interesting, but the grounds were really good, had everything we needed e.g flat spaces, different trees, shrubs, flowers, canopied areas etc. I would have liked it to be longer….very sad to be back in school today ‘

‘Jon was very friendly and knowledgeable. His passion about his job came across in his teaching. It was a very hands-on experience which meant we played the games and took part in the activities rather than being in a classroom being told about them.’

‘It was a wonderfully grounding experience and I can’t wait to share some of the activities with both my pupils and my own friends and children. Jon Attwood was a very personable, inspiring, informative and thorough trainer.’ 

‘Trainer was excellent, very knowledgeable and approachable. I really enjoyed the sessions and have come away very inspired and armed with lots of activities that I can use with my children at school. It was good to have a range of activities – creative, social, games, understanding the world.’

Forest School is a fantastic way to engage groups in woodland activities which support their personal development. The Forest of Avon Trust is committed to this inspirational approach and provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to undertake accredited training to lead their groups.

Those taking part in Forest School Training have included: teaching staff, nursery workers, youth workers, parents and those wanting to developing outdoor businesses.

Some of those doing the Level 1 will go on to do the more demanding Level 3 course to become fully qualified and accredited Forest School Leaders.

For more information about Forest School Training as well as our other Outdoor Learning courses, please see our Training Calendar:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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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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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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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Woodland Conference

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