There are a number of OFQUAL recognised awarding bodies that trainers work through. The FSA specifically supports the Awarding Bodies listed below.
Within each awarding body there will be a number of different levels of Forest School qualification, from level 1 to level 3.
The qualifications below were placed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in 2018. Other awarding bodies are welcome to clone the curriculum and criteria. The FSA provide a letter of support to those awarding bodies who will commit to cloning the whole qualification as outlined in the RQF along with all the recommendations. The FSA will continue to work with OCNWM and an Awarding Organisation Forum to review and develop the Forest School qualifications.
Level 1 is an introduction to Forest School and as such does not equip you to run Forest School. It gives you an idea of the principles and practice but does not equip you to lead a group. People who attend this are generally volunteer helpers, managers who don’t want to practise but need to know what the principles and elements of practise entail, and people who wish to dip their toes in before committing to becoming recognised leaders. As such, it is a short course. (30 hours and worth 3 credits.)
Level 2 is designed to qualify a learner to become a Forest School assistant, enabling them to take a proactive role in helping a Forest School practitioner plan and deliver a Forest School programme and supporting the learners. This course is generally approximately 60 hours and worth 6 credits.
Level 3 is designed to qualify the trainee to become a Forest School Leader,able to set up and run a Forest School programme. Level 3 covers how to facilitate groups in a learner-centred way, and how to manage a Forest School site sustainably. It also covers the practical skills required of a Forest School Leader. Generally this course is approximately 180 hours and worth 18 credits.
The FSA is the gatekeeper for three qualifications.
• Open College Network West Midlands Level 1 Award in Forest School Ethos and Principles – 603/2336/X
• Open College Network West Midlands Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants – 603/2404/1
• Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders – 603/2406/5
See also How to choose a Forest School trainer for useful guidance on ensuring quality Forest School training.