Tag Archives: Outdoor Learning & Play

Local Schools Plant Orchards

10 schools from across the area learnt about the benefits of trees and planted orchards as part of our Schools Orchard project this year. Supported by Western Power Distribution, worked with schools in Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, some of which were also part of the Natural Connections outdoor learning project.

We worked with the following schools, providing guidance, free fruit trees and helping out with planting where needed:

Cameley Primary, Bath & North East Somerset

Welton Primary, Bath & North East Somerset

Ashcombe Primary, North Somerset

Crockerne Primary, North Somerset

Westhaven Special School, North Somerset

Courtney Road Primary, South Gloucestershire

Longwell Green Primary, South Gloucestershire

King’s Forest Primary,  South Gloucestershire

Parkwall Primary, South Gloucestershire

The Meadows Primary, South Gloucestershire.

A big thank you to the hundreds of children who got involved and planted a grand total of 95 fruit trees.

If you would like to sponsor an orchard of English fruit trees at a local school, please email: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Business Sponsors, Garden Forest & Allotment Orchard, Latest News, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

Learning at Westonbirt

Westonbirt arboretum has a series of learning activities led by its own staff, as well as facilities available to groups led by others.

The in-house activities cover Key Stage 2 , Secondary , FE & HE and Initial Teaching Training , running until November 2016.

Here are the frequently-asked questions for self-led groups.

Westonbirt’s activity packs are free and can be downloaded from these links:

There are also Explorer backpack which provide resources for a whole class to use and there are two of each backpack available.

Each explorer backpack costs £15 to hire for the day and needs to be booked in advance. If you have any further queries, or wish to book a backpack, please email the learning team.

 

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News | Tagged , , |

The 2016 Nature Connections conference

The 2016 Nature Connections conference in Derby on June 15th, with a focus on Getting Connected to Nature.  The conference themes are:

  • Improving links between research, policy and practice
  • Latest research and perspective on the benefits of a connection with nature, getting connected to nature, and engaging people

The keynote speaker is Tony Juniper.  Looking at the draft programme, there is much here that is relevant to anyone interested in trees and woodland, and to the work of the Forest of Avon Trust, more generally.

We noted the following:

  • The potential for connecting to nature through forest school
  • Making Local Woods Connect: Social enterprise as a mechanism for reconnecting people with woodlands
  • Investigating the effects of ‘forest school’ on the mental wellbeing and environmental connectedness of young people
  • The impact of walking environment on connectedness to nature, mindfulness and empathy: a comparison of natural and urban locations
  • 30 Days Wild

 

Posted in: Latest News | Tagged , |

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.

Posted in: Latest News, Outdoor Learning | Tagged |

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.

Posted in: Latest News, Outdoor Learning | Tagged |

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/

Posted in: Forest School, Training activities | Tagged , , |

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.

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, Our Projects | Tagged , , |

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/

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News, Training activities | Tagged , , |

Natural Connections Demonstration Project

The Trust has just embarked on an exciting new project, which is being trialled across the south-west by Plymouth University. The Natural Connections Demonstration Project is one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK.

As ‘hub leader’ for Somerset, the Forest of Avon Trust has recently recruited a new administrator – Bea Oliver – to work with Training Manager, Jon Attwood, to deliver the project. We will be supporting schools to forge links between each other, and with outdoor learning providers, to improve and extend learning in the natural environment.

We have now begun the process of recruiting up to five Beacon Schools in North Somerset(primary, secondary or special), which have experience of delivering Learning in the Natural Environment (LINE).  Each Beacon School will receive support, training and investment through the project to become LINE specialists and will in turn support up to seven schools new to LINE – ‘cluster schools’ – to improve their offer of learning outside the classroom.

If you would like further information on this project, please email Jon Attwood: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org and click here to read more about what’s on offer.

We are also seeking professional providers of outdoor learning to work with the schools taking part, and will be holding an information event for providers on Wed. 20th November at Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve. If you would like more details about getting involved, please email jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org.

For more information on learning outside the classroom, take a look at the Growing Schools website.

Posted in: Natural Connections, Our Projects | Tagged , |

Why We Still Need a Community Forest

Street and garden trees integrate into woodlands

Street and garden trees integrate with existing woodland, grading to the Cotswold edge. Access links, play areas and open conservation sites extend through this. Farms and woodlands provide food and services for the urban market, with the ‘urban forest’ having the structure to accommodate any permitted development.

I worked for the first Community Forest: the Great North Forest from its beginning in 1990 and have worked in Community Forestry since. I remain strongly of the view that a shared, progressive and long- term strategy for the countryside around England’s largest urban areas is essential. This need not be prescriptive, but should be about a common will to spend time on improving the landscape and functionality of an area, in partnership with landowners, communities and many others.

The Forest of Avon Partnership ended in 2009 having achieved a great deal. Whilst 17 years is long-term in British planning terms, this charity was established to keep the momentum going. It is really heartening to hear Bristol Mayor: George Ferguson, refer to the need for more tree planting (one of our objectives) and cross boundary working.

If you want to help keep the Forest of Avon Community Forest vision and delivery going, email me here with your ideas and/or join us as a Friend (£3/ month).

Jon Clark.

Posted in: Community Forest, Future Woods, Latest News, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged , , , , |