In July we asked Level 3 Forest School practitioners what they thought about their Forest School Training. Members were invited to complete an on-line survey. The results of this survey can be found below. Many thanks to all who participated.

The Forest School Association have introduced a new membership type for Forest School Trainers which takes the form of a Quality Assurance Scheme. We want to be certain that we are examining the correct information during the Quality Assurance Process. This survey was a chance for Level 3 Forest School Practitioners to share their opinions with us about their own training experience so that we can include their views within our picture of what quality provision looks like and so that we are aware of any potential problem areas that often occur on Level 3 courses.

The results of the survey will be used to identify the things that trainees value most in their Level 3 training and also the top concerns that they would like to be addressed on future Level 3 courses. 

Level 3 practitioner survey – summary of results

130 people responded to the survey during July and August 2017.  Clear themes emerged and we have summarised the main ones here.  In each section we have listed the themes in priority order; i.e. those that were mentioned most often appear at the top of the list.

Most valued aspects of Level 3 training experiences

The overwhelming themes emerging were:

  1. Woodland/outdoor setting for training (rather than using indoor spaces)
  2. Inspiring/passionate/knowledgeable trainers
  3. Emphasis on practical sessions and developing practical skills through face-to-face sessions
  4. Excellent support from training provider/trainer
  5. Structure of the course (e.g. the format of how the days are spread apart)
  6. Collaborative nature of the training where cohort freely discuss and share ideas
  7. Effective communication throughout
  8. Learning environment created by the trainers

Other significant themes were:

  1. Assignments and assessments including being given detailed feedback
  2. Flexibility in approach (e.g. if a family or work matter arose)
  3. Comprehensive course materials
  4. Modular, rather than intensive structure that allows learning to bed in
  5. Having a trainer visit you to undertake a delivery assessment
  6. Trainer’s style of delivery/pitch
  7. Holistic/life changing experience
  8. Forest School ethos well embedded throughout course

Most negative aspects of Level 3 training experiences

The overwhelming themes emerging were:

  1. Amount of work (mostly written) involved (because it was either more than was thought necessary or more than expected)
  2. Feeling of isolation and a lack of support
  3. Courses that were too short/not in depth enough
  4. Poor communication
  5. Need for more practical and face-to-face sessions

Other significant themes were:

  1. Delays between submitting assignments and receiving feedback/marks
  2. Sadness and emptiness at the end of the course!
  3. Lack of feedback relating to work/portfolio
  4. Other people on the course (taking over/daunting/lack of practical skills/lack of education theory understanding/being lazy)
  5. Lack of Forest School ethos embedded within course
  6. Assignments that overlapped (i.e. covered the same thing)
  7. Poor quality teaching
  8. Being daunted by the theoretical aspects of the course/assessments
  9. Emphasis on outdated theory (eg. schema and learning styles)
  10. Lack of help with setting up a pilot
  11. Unclear guidance

Suggested changes that would make a positive difference to level 3 training experiences

The overwhelming themes emerging were:

  1. Consistency between the trainers and courses (people felt strongly that it was unfair for different Level 3 courses to differ so vastly in content and assessment requirements)
  2. More practical sessions
  3. Better support from trainer
  4. Seeing a Forest School in action during the course
  5. Fewer written assessments
  6. Clearer overview of what the course involves and what is required when
  7. Better network of support in local area for ongoing help
  8. Having your trainer undertake a delivery assessment

Other significant themes were:

  1. Clearer assignment questions
  2. Standardised content for training manual
  3. Better course materials
  4. Clear guidelines about length of time marking will take
  5. Assistance in setting up your pilot
  6. Being linked together with cohort for ongoing support/discussion
  7. Set deadlines for assignments throughout the course (to spread workout)
  8. Improved support/understanding from employer during training period
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