About FS qualifications
For FS trainers
What’s the relationship between FSA and the GB Trainer’s Network?
Does the FSA endorse particular trainers?
What’s the relationship between FSA and the GB Trainer’s Network?
The FSA works closely with this group but there is no formal relationship. The GBTN is a totally separate body to the FSA and it has its own criteria for membership.
There is a clear need amongst the public to be able to identify appropriately qualified Forest School trainers. The FSA is not in a position to recommend or endorse any FS training provider, as we have not yet developed our endorsement criteria and process. (This is a long term undertaking that will require extensive consultation with industry stakeholders.
The GB Trainers Network is currently the only UK wide body for Forest School trainers. The FSA therefore signposts to members of this group from our website because we think that it is useful to the sector as a whole and is in support of our aim to promote quality FS for all. We also host details about the application process to join the GBTN for the same reason. Please note that the FSA is not responsible for the application process itself. (The GB Trainers network is self managed and all administration is handled by their members on a voluntary basis. This does sometimes result in communication delays.)
As an organisation we have open membership, which means that anyone can join the FSA. The FSA brand and image must be protected, so it can only be used by the FSA organisation and not by individual members. This is also true of other, similar, membership organisations such as the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts. Members are welcome to say that they are members of the FSA but the actual logo belongs to the organisation. You are welcome to use the FSA logo on your website if you are creating a link to the FSA website but you must not do this in a way that implies that your provision is endorsed by the FSA (for instance by adding it to marketing materials, alongside course details, or within the header/footer of your website). The only exception to this is use of the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider badge, which is reserved for those members who offer FSA recognised Forest School provision.
Does the FSA recognise my level 3 Forest School qualification that was awarded by ‘X’ awarding body?
Firstly, we have open membership and anyone can join the FSA regardless whether they have a qualification or not. Registration is a quality assurance process that the FSA is currently developing whereby people wanting to find a practitioner can search our database of registered practitioners and be sure that everyone on that database has certain minimum things in place. Quality assuring FS practice is about much more than having the right qualification. However, the FSA will recognise and accept all level three FS qualifications issued by UK awarding bodies up to the point that a registration process is implemented. After that time we may need to map qualifications to our recommended and endorsed qualification but we are yet to work all that out. It will not affect you if you already have a level 3 FS qualification from a UK awarding body.
I did my level 3 training with ‘Y’. I hear that the FSA plans on endorsing Forest School trainers. What happens if my trainer does not get endorsed? Can I still register as a practitioner with the FSA even if the FSA does not endorse my trainer?
Short answer is – YES. We have not worked out the criteria or process for practitioner registration yet, but who you undertook your Level 3 training with will have no effect on your eligibility to go through the registration process. Without wishing to prejudice anything, I believe that we will be asking for things like.
• An up to date practitioners hand book
• a minimum amount of FS practice experience
• evidence of following the principles and criteria of good FS practice
• Appropriate insurance cover
• and a level 3 qualification in FS.
Regardless of the outcome of the trainer endorsement process it will not affect you as a practitioner. After all, getting your qualification is just the first step on a life-long learning journey.
As the professional body for Forest school in the UK the FSA must have a role in promoting good practice and assuring quality at all levels. Clearly it is crucial that all Forest School training should be of good quality if practitioners are to get off on the right foot. Anecdotal evidence is that Forest School training provision in the UK is of variable quality and the Forest School community agree (through comments at conferences and in answer to questionnaires) that some form of quality assurance is needed. However, there are no agreed standards against which to benchmark training provision and so we can not even say what good training looks like. This is of course distinct to the criteria used by awarding bodies to decide whether a trainer is delivering a course at the right level and to the requirements of the qualification. That does not help in knowing whether the training is ‘good’, simply that it complies with the awarding bodies criteria for a given qualification. It may help to consider the questions asked in the section called ‘How to choose a Forest School trainer‘.
Clearly it is not an easy thing to develop and implement a suitable endorsement process for Forest School trainers. Particularly as many trainers have their own ways of doing things, have special interests, and are all equally part of the Forest School community. The FSA has embarked on this process nevertheless. It must be done correctly with appropriate consultation and involvement of stakeholders. It can not be rushed and will take some time.
Looking at other, similar, organisations and their experience in developing a trainers’ endorsement process it can take years to get to the point where it is implemented. Until then we ask all trainers to be patient. All are in the same position. There are no preconceptions as to what the endorsement process will look like, which criteria will be applied or which trainers will be endorsed. This will be an inclusive process and the FSA will be actively seeking your views.
We only list the members of the GB Forest School Trainers Network on our website. The GB trainers network is not part of the FSA and we do not specifically endorse any of the training providers who are members of this group. However, as this is currently the only body that applies a set of criteria for entry we feel that this is the best way that we can help members of the public who are searching for a trainer. The FSA is in the process of developing criteria for endorsing specific trainers. Once these are complete, and the endorsement process established, we will be in a position to signpost to individual FSA endorsed trainers on our website. In the mean time I suggest that you seek to join the GB trainers network so that we can add your details to that list. Further information about how to do this can be found on our website here.
The FSA have been approached by a number of individuals in the Forest School sector asking for clarification about the intellectual property rights and ownership of the term ‘Forest Schools’. The Intellectual Property Office have confirmed that Archimedes Training Ltd have trade marked an image of their logo with the words ‘Forest Schools’ but that the trade mark only applies when these words are used in conjunction with the Archimedes logo. This means that the term Forest Schools can be used to refer to the plural of a Forest School site (a number of forest schools) or as a generic term without infringing on Archimedes’ intellectual property rights. We hope that this clarifies the situation for our members and the sector as a whole.
There are at least two possible ways to answer this question. Firstly, the Forest School community agreed that this was one of the core criteria at a national conference back in 2011, so a couple of hundred active practitioners from all around the country decided this at that event. The FSA then consulted with nearly 1000 Forest School interested people. So, in other words there was a large consensus that this should be a requirement. The second is more of an argument really. It depends on Forest School practitioners wanting to be taken seriously as professionals. A useful analogy is the legal profession. Anyone is ‘allowed’ to represent themselves in legal matters. However, only people with the right qualifications and can call themselves a lawyer. As the professional body the FSA can only encourage people to become qualified to the right level/standard. However, we do not recommend that an unqualified person should lead forest school sessions. This is in no way saying that you need to have a FS qualification to take children outdoors or that it is a bad thing to do so without having a Forest School qualification.
As the professional body for FS in the UK we can not really get involved in the rapid action discussions that people have on social media (which we think are great for discussion and sparking ideas). We have to be a little more considered in our responses and that can take time when everyone involved in the FSA is a volunteer, or works part-time. It would be inappropriate for us to comment on certain things in a public forum. If some specific question is being asked of the FSA, by either our members or the general public, please contact us through the usual channels such as email or message via our Facebook page so that we can respond formally.