Let’s face it. While the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider scheme is well respected as a benchmark for good Forest School provision, the ‘Recognised Introductory Forest School Provider’ version of the scheme is not loved.
What is the difference between the two versions of the scheme? Very simple.
An FSA Recognised Forest School Provider has demonstrated that they meet 5 principles of Forest School in the context of a long term Forest School programme (the 6th principle).
Unfortunately, the feedback we are getting, particularly through the Local Groups Forum, is that some people feel judged about the fact that they are unable to offer long term Forest School programmes in their setting. There is also a suggestion that the term ‘Introductory’ may be seen as a reflection of the quality of the Forest School provision rather than as a description of the offer.
Now, to be perfectly honest, there is nothing much we can do about the first concern about people feeling judged for offering shorter term Forest School programmes. Things are as they are and people face the constraints that they face. The FSA does not judge anyone for that. Like you, our focus is to promote the added value of long term provision. Like you, we wish things were different and that everyone could offer long term Forest School programmes. Long term Forest School programmes work best. That’s why Forest School is partly defined as being a long term process. Like you, we are doing our best to try to change things. To help decision makers understand the benefits of Forest School, to help open the purse strings. The FSA is working on initiatives that will do these very things if we get the support that we need. It will take time to achieve the changes that we would like to see.
The very purpose of the FSA is to send this message. In the meantime, we want and need to support those providers who understand and follow the Forest School ethos. That is why the ‘Introductory’ version was added to the FSA Recognised Forest School provider scheme. So that the FSA could recognise those providers who were offering good Forest School programmes, even if they were constrained in the duration of the programmes being offered.
The term ‘Introductory’ is, of course, problematic. We can see how it could be misinterpreted. But what word could replace it? The staff and directors haven’t come up with a better word that still communicates what is being recognised. We have also asked the Local Groups representatives if they can come up with anything better.
Between us this is what we have so far (try not to judge):
So, the question we would like to put to you is … if not ‘FSA Recognised Introductory Forest School Provider’, then what?
Please tell us what you think in the comments below. Do any of the above options work? Do you have something better?
Thank you in advance.