The FSA is in the process of developing a quality assurance scheme for Forest School Trainers. Until this is complete we are unable to recommend any particular trainer. Please see the information below about choosing a Forest School Trainer.

jc's training 1The first thing to ask when searching for a Forest School trainer is whether Forest School training is what you're really looking for. Have a look at What is Forest School? if you need more information about what Forest School is. You can find links to other forms of outdoor learning here.  Some Forest School trainers also offer other forms of outdoor learning training, as well as CPD for Forest School practitioners.

Forest School training, particularly at level 3, is a large investment in time and money so we advise you to do your research so you know you are getting a quality qualification. The FSA is working towards endorsing training providers, which will help guide those looking for quality training long term. For now, we are signposting to the GB Forest School Trainers' Network members. Find out more about what the Trainer's Network is hereWe would still encourage you to ask the questions outlined below.

There are a number of training providers for Forest School (at the time of writing there are at least 25 FS training companies in the UK and probably more). Most provide a Forest School accredited award through one of the recognised awarding bodies. There are some that provide shorter courses that may support Forest School but may not be the full award.

So before looking at how to choose a trainer you may want to look at what the different qualifications cover and qualify you for.

jc's training 7When making your decision about which trainer to go with, one of the things you may go on is recommendations from colleagues – it is worth clarifying what it was that made the training worthwhile. As the reputable philosopher and educator, John Dewey, said 'did you take pleasure in the learning?'. How empowering was the training? Many an inspiring trainer there has been, but did the training:

  • really give a deep connection and understanding of Forest School;
  • help trainees deeply reflect on the learning;
  • equip and inspire trainees to continue learning about Forest School;
  • challenge and even change perspectives
  • equip trainees to start confidently helping at Forest School (levels 1 & 2) or start being the main practitioner (Level 3).

What to ask a prospective trainer

What does the training cover? We know this is an obvious question but from this question you will get a feel for what they know, their ethos and what they cover – do ask for the detail.

Do I get a recognised certificated award and from which awarding body? This should not just be a certificate of attendance.

How much experience has the trainer of delivering Forest School programmes? The Forest School trainers network requires trainers to have a minimum of two years' experience with at least one long term programme, preferably covering a whole year with one group regularly attending on a weekly basis.

How much experience does the trainer have of working with learners of various ages in the practical elements of Forest School?

What is the breadth of outdoor learning experience and do they have experience of delivering Forest School to your type of client group?

How recent is their Forest School practice?

Is the trainer connected to local Forest Schools and local networks that can support you in your training and practice?

Is the trainer connected to any national support and local support? This includes support other than practitioners and settings eg FSA, FEN, FSW, FEI, resources, other networks.

Is the trainer up to date with the challenges and/or initiatives you may have in your type of setting?

What training experience does the trainer have? We would recommend you check out their own training experience (by this we mean training others to educate) and not just Forest School training – do they have a breadth of training experience to pull on?

What recent CPD and training has the trainer had?
This could include the most recent books they have read through to courses attended or mentoring from other trainers.

What is their own Forest School philosophy and is there an ethos that runs through their Forest School training practice? Do refer to the Forest School principles.

What does the training look like, how does it reflect the learner centred, community-building pedagogy of Forest School?

What experience and/or qualifications does the trainer have in ecological management of sites, in particular woodlands?

jc's training 2What practical skills and experience does the trainer bring to the training, particularly relating to tools, fire and woodland management?

How does the trainer assess the competencies required of a Forest School practitioner?

Training providers should be using a variety of assessment processes to check their trainees are meeting the assessment criteria/competencies outlined in the qualification. Assessment methods need to be fair and accessible to trainees and appropriate for the criteria they are assessing. Trainees should be supported in doing the assessment methods chosen by the trainer.

Here are some of the common assessment methods used by Forest School trainers;

· Written assessments; which includes anything from writing up simple instructions on how to make Forest School artefacts, policy and procedures, risk assessments through to essay style writing that often relates the pedagogy of Forest School to established educational theory.

· Trainer observation of trainees practical skills undertaken during the course delivery

· Trainer observation of delivery of Forest School in the trainees own settings

· Trainer observation of trainees discussions

· Oral question and answer sessions between trainer and trainee

· Scenario based assessments observed by the trainer and/or peers

· Peer based assessments on delivery of Forest School and practical skills (this is particularly applicable to level 1 and 2 qualifications.)

Not all trainers use all these methods, what's important is - are they appropriate. It is worth asking of prospective training providers which ones are used and how they relate to the criteria. We also recommend asking how trainees are supported in the different assessment methods used by the trainer.

For more information on assessment methods see http://www.ocnwmr.org.uk/centres/assessment-and-evidence

What sort of ongoing support is available?
For example does it include supporting handouts, downloadable materials, e-mail contact, telephone contact, tutorials, site visits?

Are expectations of the trainees made clear?
For example how much time on each element is required/needed. How much contact time with the trainer (35% is normally a minimum). What equipment is required. Are terms and conditions and entry criteria spelled out?

What type of venue is used?
Does it demonstrate Forest School practice?

Does the training take care of your basic needs?
Food, warmth, access etc.

Does the Level 3 training include first aid?
Or does the trainer work with a recognised first aid provider whose course covers outdoor first aid for Forest School practitioners? Does any first aid training include paediatrics for those working with early years groups? First aid training should use a hands-on real life approach and works outside in the woods with real Forest School scenarios. What sort of experience does the first aid provider have in first aid?

What type of insurance does the trainer hold?
They should have at least public and personal liability.

What standardisation and/or quality review processes does the trainer have in place?
This is normally monitored by the awarding body however it is worth asking the question so you know the qualification you are getting is robust and up to date with practise.

What qualifications does the trainer have?
In order to deliver any accredited qualification (in England and Wales) the trainer is required to have a minimum of a level 4. This is the case for all the levels of Forest School awards. This may be a PTTLs level 4, or a secondary teaching qualification, going up to masters level.

What is their completion rate and what is their pass rate?
Completion does not necessarily mean pass!

And finally how do they sound and what is the cost?
You will need to match this to what is offered as there are varying costs between providers. They will relate to what you are getting – for example some courses have more contact time than others, some include food and some don’t etc. Do you have to pay for anything extra? Are the costs transparent?

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THE GB FOREST SCHOOL TRAINERS NETWORK ARE NOT ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS. While the FSA are developing a new members QA scheme. The future of the GBFSTN is uncertain as its members may or may not decide to cooperate under the umbrella of the FSA rather than as a separate body. The network is an un-constituted group and does not have any leadership committee in place at present. The proposed FSA Trainers Group (comprising recognised and endorsed FSA Trainer members) will have administrative support from the FSA and inform the FSAs policies on Forest School standards and qualifications.

The current GB Forest School Trainers network grew out of a trainers network established in Wales in 2006 and has grown in number to 26 members in Scotland and England. There are approximately 10 members in the Welsh network, which has representatives on the GB network.

The aims of the network are

• sharing good practice through standardisation of assessment practise and guidance notes
• helping build Forest School training capacity through agreed channels
• exploring the possibility of a Forest School National Award

Over the years, the network has reviewed the qualification offered under the Open College Network awarding body and this has resulted in this OCN qualification becoming the nationally accepted training at level 1, 2 and 3 in England as of 1 Mar 2013. It has been passed by OFQUAL and is now on the English Qualification Credit Framework (QCF). The FSA has been the gatekeeping/governing body that has supported the qualifications being accepted on to the QCF. There are different arrangements in Wales, where the qualification is awarded through Agored. All current Scottish trainers work through OCN regions in England. There are some initial discussions underway looking at both the Welsh and Scottish qualification frameworks.

The FSA will, in the future, be endorsing trainers and training providers against certain standards. These standards are being worked on at the present and will provide the benchmark for Forest School training.

Currently, the FSA is signposting people to those organisations that have met the membership criteria for the Trainer's Network and are current members.

Once the FSA standards have been agreed details will be posted on this website.

For more details about the Trainer's Network see the accompanying guidance notes.

FS Trainers Network Guidance Notes 1 - Network Aims and Membership (april 2012)

FS Trainers Network Guidance Notes 2 - History of Forest School Training Network (feb 2011)

The GBFSTN  is not presently accepting new members

FS Trainers Network Guidance Notes 3 - Network Application Process 2014

THE GB FOREST SCHOOL TRAINERS NETWORK ARE NOT ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS. While the FSA are developing a new members QA scheme. The future of the GBFSTN is uncertain as its members may or may not decide to cooperate under the umbrella of the FSA rather than as a separate body. The network is an un-constituted group and does not have any leadership committee in place at present. The proposed FSA Trainers Group (comprising recognised and endorsed FSA Trainer members) will have administrative support from the FSA and inform the FSAs policies on Forest School standards and qualifications.

THIS LIST WILL BE REMOVED BY 1st JUNE 2017

Members of the GB Trainers Network as of June 2015

Important note: Only those members of the GB Forest School Trainers Network (GBFSTN) who are also members of the FSA are listed below. It was the decision of the GBFSTN that this should be the case as the network wished to show support for the FSA and its work. Not all members of the GBFSTN are members of the FSA.

Scotland

Big World Adventures, East of Scotland
Aline Hill
www.bigworldadventures.org
forestschool@bigworldadventures.org

South Lanarkshire Council
Mike Brady
Tel : 01698 543418
Mobile: 07795 453425
www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk
mike.brady@southlanarkshire.gsx.gov.uk

England

Birchwood Learning, Norfolk
Louise Ambrose
www.birchwoodlearning.com
birchwoodlearning@gmail.com

Bishops Wood Centre, Worcestershire
Jon Cree and Julie Grainger
www.field-studies-council.org/bishopswood/learn
enquiries.bw@field-studies-council.org

Cambium, Herefordshire
Anney Thornton-Wood
www.cambiumsustainable.co.uk/forest-schools-training/
info@cambiumsustainable.co.uk

Charlotte's Forest School - East Anglia
Charlotte Atkinson
http://charlottesforestschool.co.uk
head@charlottesforestschool.co.uk

Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, East Sussex
Marina Robb
www.circleofliferediscovery.com
Info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Down the Woods, Hertfordshire
Caroline Langley
www.downthewoods.org
caroline.langley@downthewoods.org

EarthCraftuk, Kent
Clair Hobson
http://earthcraftuk.com
info@earthcraftuk.com

Forest of Avon Trust
Jon Atwood
www.forestofavontrust.org
jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Forest Schools Education, Sheffield
Paul Moseley
http://forestschools.com
paul@forestschools.com

Forest School Learning Initiative Gloucestershire
Chris Dee
www.forestschoollearning.co.uk
chris@fsli.co.uk

Forest School Training Company, Devon (FSTC)
Louise Ambrose
www.forestschooltraining.co.uk
admin@forestschooltraining.co.uk

Get out of the Classroom, West Midlands
Sarah Capper
www.getoutoftheclassroom.com
sarah@getoutoftheclassroom.com

Greenlight Trust, Suffolk
Rich Sylvester
www.greenlighttrust.org/forest-schools
rich@greenlighttrust.org

Go Wild Education
Jackie Roby
http://gowildeducation.co.uk/
hello@gowildeducation.co.uk

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Dawn Preston
www.hiwwt.org.uk
courses@hiwwt.org.uk or dawn.preston@hiwwt.org.uk

Huathe, Essex
Carol Middleton and Elizabeth Swift
www.huathe.org
carol@huathe.org or elizabeth@huathe.org

Kindling Play and Training, Cumbria
Lily Horseman
www.kindlingplayandtraining.co.uk
mail@kindlingplayandtraining.co.uk

Natural Choice Group: Yorkshire and Humber
Elly Dolan
director@naturalchoicegroup.co.uk
www.naturalchoicegroup.co.uk
07807 454 789

Nature Workshops, Cornwall
Richard McKie
www.natureworkshops.co.uk
forestschool@natureworkshops.co.uk

North Yorkshire Forest School Training, North Yorks
Hazel Canning
www.forestschooltraining.com
admin@forestschooltraining.com

Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire
Alison Crowther
http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/OutdoorLearning/training-development/Pages/forest-school-leaders.aspx
acrowther@northamptonshire.gov.uk

Oxfordshire Forest School
Sarah Lawfull and Mhairi MacGillivray-Edwards
www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/forest-school
sarah.lawfull@oxfordshire.gov.uk or mhairi.macgillivray-edwards@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Richard Irvine Outdoor Learning
Richard Irvine
learning@richardirvine.co.uk

Shropshire Council Forest School
Shropshire Council – Alice Savery
https://www.shropshirelg.net/services/forest-school/forest-school-training/
forestschool@shropshire.gov.uk

Solihull MBC - Unity Community & Additional Services
Andy Matthews
andymatthews1966@hotmail.co.uk

Step Out, Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
Sarah Robertshaw
www.step-out.eu
sarah@step-out.eu

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Staffs
Shaun Rimmer
www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/page/forest-school-training
s.rimmer@staffs-wildlife.org.uk

Surrey Wildlife Trust, Surrey
Susan Edwards and Neil Jameson
www.surreywildlifetrust.org
susan.edwards@surreywt.org.uk or neil.jameson@surreywt.org.uk

Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex
Mike Murphy and Renzo Spano
www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/education/page00023.htm
mikemurphy@sussexwt.org.uk

The Forest School Experience, Merseyside
Grahame Watts
grahame@theforestschoolexperience.co.uk

The Shire, Outdoor Learning UK
Ceris Williams
Ceris@outdoorlearninguk.com

Urban Outdoor Learning, Birmingham
Chris Wishart
www.urbanoutdoorlearning.com
chris@urbanoutdoorlearning.com

Wild Learning, West Midlands
Sarah Klaes
http://wild-learning.com
sarah@wild-learning.com

Wild Wood Activities, Surrey
Lauren Stevens
http://www.wildwoodactivities.co.uk/
lauren@wildwoodactivities.co.uk

Woodland Learning, Gloucestershire
Ruth Parsons
www.woodlandlearning.co.uk
info@woodlandlearning.co.uk

Wales

Plas Dewr Trust Ltd, Flintshire/Cheshire
Pippa Gallagher
www.plasderwforestschool.co.uk

Bishop's Wood Countryside Centre / Swansea
Chris Dow
www.forestschoolsnpt.org.uk

For an up to date list of Welsh providers please contact Carol Travers at Natural Resources Wales (formerly Forestry Commission) – carol.travers@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

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