The Forest School Association is circulating a Press Release in time for Outdoor Classroom Day on 12th October 2017. It concerns the launch of the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider scheme. As the professional body for Forest School in the UK we have devised this scheme to help improve standards in Forest School delivery by giving Forest School providers an opportunity to gain formal recognition for following the 6 principles of Forest School. I would be very grateful if you could pass this press release (below) to your personal and professional networks as appropriate.
PRESS RELEASE (For release on 12 October 2017: Outdoor Classroom Day)
New scheme for recognising good Forest School practice
The Forest School Association, the UK’s professional body and voice for all things Forest School, have launched a NEW scheme for recognising Forest School Providers who are following good Forest School practice. This is the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider scheme. The first successful applicants have been added to the publicly accessible map and database.
Gareth Wyn Davies (CEO of the Forest School Association) says,
“Good Forest School practice is being followed by dedicated Forest School professionals all over the UK. We believe that the FSA Recognised Forest School Provider scheme will provide these schools and organisations with the means of demonstrating the quality of their work to parents and those who fund their work. It will also help promote their work as they will be found on the FSA publicly searchable map. Forest School is a distinct learning approach based on a set of 6 principles. Our new Recognised Forest School Provider scheme will help people identify those providers who are following good Forest School practice and distinguish them from outdoor and woodland education that are not Forest School.”
For parents wondering where to send their children, or even for decision makers such as Local Authorities and Academies, it is important to know that a provider is operating professionally. Are they working in accordance with good Forest School practice? Are the sessions conducted so that the children’s self-confidence, communication skills, use of tools (among other skills), is progressing week on week? Do they have the appropriate qualifications, First Aid Certificate and risk assessment processes in place? Are the woodland sites well managed? The FSA recognised Forest School Provider Scheme offers that reassurance!
“As soon as we saw the new Forest School Association’s (FSA) Forest School Provider scheme we knew this was one for us. Our children love their weekly morning in the woods and our whole team of staff are fully engaged and committed to this approach and many parents choose us as their child's school because we offer this. We know that having this recognition will give us something that other schools do not.” Francesca McLoughlin, Headteacher, Sparkwell Primary School
The scheme takes providers through an evidence based assessment process ensuring that their practice meets all the necessary requirements to operate professionally in line with the 6 good practice principles of Forest School. It also gives providers a chance to take stock of their programme(s) to see if any improvements need to be made.
Organisations can apply to be approved as an ‘introductory’ or ‘recognised’ provider depending on the length and frequency of the programmes they offer. If they fulfil all the evidence needs, and their application is successful, applicants receive a range of benefits including an e-badge that they can display on their website, premises and literature, plus a range of member discounts. They are also listed on our online publicly searchable map. The first successful applicants can now be viewed at https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/find-a-forest-school-provider/
Feedback from successful applicants who have been through the application process has so far proved positive: “Becoming a FSA recognised Forest School provider is great for my company. We pride ourselves in being professional and reliable and adhere to the six principles and criteria of Forest School. Anyone can now locate us using the online map and be assured that we passed the application process and that we work to a high standard.
The application process was set out clearly. What was good about it was making you look at how you work as a Forest School provider and, in turn, making you evaluate and re-evaluate your role as a Forest School leader. I found the whole process a positive and worthwhile.” Stuart Slade, Stuart Slade Forest School
Ultimately, the real success comes from the participants using Forest School. As David, aged 14, stated, “I don’t have ADHD when I’m out in the woods!”.
Ensuring provision is professional is a major part of this experience and the FSA’s goal is to ensure that more positive outcomes, like David’s, are the result of good practice provision.
Notes to Editors
Image: Sparkwell All Saints Primary School, Devon (permission to use image in association with this press release granted by the school)
The Forest School Association is the professional body and UK wide voice for Forest School, promoting best practice, cohesion and 'quality Forest School for all'. Its charitable purpose is "the advancement of education for public benefit through promotion and support of quality Forest School in the United Kingdom using any means to enable all children, young people and adults to benefit from increased opportunities for high quality and varied educational experiences in the natural world."
An inspirational process, Forest School offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. It’s a specialised learning approach that sits within, and complements, the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
Gareth Wyn Davies
CEO Forest School Association