FSA Wednesday Webinar – Number 1, 1st April 2020, 8-9.30pm

Unfortunately, we had some technical issues with the video but here are the summary and collated notes from the webinar.

Summary & Collated Notes

Total Number Registered: 121

Total Number attended: 70 + throughout, up to 93 max

Opening from Jon Cree:

Wow! Thank you for all attending. It is so great to see so many faces. This is the biggest webinar we have held.  We anticipate holding these regularly through the COVID crisis.  The numbers (121 registrants) show we all value this community.

We are living in probably one of the most stressed times in modern society –  This will be the first experience of a pandemic for many.  It is so important for us to be able to come together in this room to be able to reason and show each other compassion and help to regulate our communities.  So it is lovely to see so many FS practitioners here to do just that – to destress and try to ground ourselves and at the same time acknowledge we are all going through some sort of stress…stress is OK, it is how we work with it and relate to it that is important.  The best way to do this and regulate ourselves is to know that our bodies and brains are connected.  If we spend too much time thinking about stress, watching too much TV, listening to the social media noise and listening to the often uncertain and conflicting messages from our leaders then we will not be able to function properly…the brain will be shutting down.  Bruce Perry co-author of ‘Born for Love – why empathy is essential and endangered’ and world-famous trauma therapist has said of the COVID crisis ‘that this is probably one of the most teachable moments in modern times’.  As the FS community we are in a position to make the most of this but at the same time recognize we are all going through stresses of one type or another.  Perry states that if we can’t regulate and keep a calm external focus as well as try to recognize our stressed bodies we won’t be able to relate (our central brain function) which will impede our reasoning (our neocortex functioning) – Regulate, Relate, Reason.  In turn, this will mean that we will stimulate a sense of dysregulation with our community. This is especially evident in learners who are all probably already feeling vulnerable and highly stressed.  He goes on to state one of the best ways to regulate, is to ground ourselves through the somatosensory body – ie our sensory body – ie movement, meditation and going outside for a walk!  We have a direct link to our guts through the Vagus nerve that links the brain and body – especially the gut.  It is the activation of this nerve that can destress society – vagus from ‘vagabond’ means to rove to wrap around – that is literally what it does and it can be a comforting wrapping.  When we experience stress our stomachs churn…to un-churn as Peter Levine quotes in his book “Waking the tiger; healing trauma” is to connect the belly with the brain through movement and breathing.  So let us start this gathering by grounding and starting this belly brain connection through making a noise – let your belly and chest fill with air and breath out saying VOOOOOOO.  We’ll do this three times don’t think about the breath in just let it fill the belly and chest VOOOOOOO…..  What did that feel like, what images come to mind, how would you describe it…may have words such as calming, slowing.. it is about grounding our bodies and being present.

Hopefully, everybody is now, here, in their body, ready to embrace the fear as the body says to the brain ‘things are OK’…We will come through this crisis.

The other really important part of dealing with stress and regulating, Perry says, is that ‘we need to emotionally and socially connect’.  I hate the term social distancing – we shouldn’t be socially distancing we should be physically separating and socially connecting.  Just like the Italians singing to each other on their balconies and the UK making a noise and clapping for the NHS.  This meeting is a chance to connect even more and will take the following form.

Nic will go through zoom management and health and safety on zoom

We will summarize some of the FSA guidance and latest insurance details

Then we will go into breakout groups to consider questions around the crisis and support the FSA can provide as well as how we can support each other

Then pull the discussions together with questions to the FSA which we will respond to.

Websites to look at relating to Bruce Perry and Peter Levine;

https://www.childtrauma.org/    Bruce Perry.

https://traumahealing.org/     Somatic experiencing institute – Peter Levine.


Nic & Jon gave an update of FSA materials & Guidance related to COVID-19

Collations of Small Group Discussions by question:

  1. What are the main stressors you are facing with the COVID crisis and isolation as FS practitioners? 
  • Wondering if schools will drop out when they go back? Budget cuts, etc.
  • General income worries
  • Trauma
  • Loss
  • Budget cuts – loss of FS – capacity?
  • Will schools want us, if they see FS as an extra?
  • Finance; business advice for those just starting on their forest School ‘career’
  • Lack of income: no work, no income, peak season is summer and we might miss that
  • Self-employed: livelihood gone, no money, minimal savings
  • Contracted workers: canceled and as it doesn’t cover ‘act of god’ she is not covered
  • Our roles: wanting to be a good FSL and supporting children going through traumatic experience whilst we are also going through that ourselves
  • Morality of continuing FS whilst the risk is high for illnesses and potential death
  • Uncertainty of lockdown
  • Hanging onto business/media overdose; pressure to upskill on tech; diff pressure in diff part of country eg London and rural areas
  • Personal things – not being in the outdoors
  • Professionally – no work and not being able to catch up on the sessions and groups missed out on.
  • Final days of training been delayed and so will now not be qualified by September, as hoped. Could affect employment prospects.
  • Could FSA be able to help out some way and make changes?
  • Being sued
  • Complete lack of income suddenly
  • Trainer – courses canceled, annual plan skewed
  • Long term Impacts marking, observations, knock-on effects of consolidating workloads
  • Supporting trainees, supporting disappointment of
  • Financially
  • Vulnerable children – relationships built up – now abandoned/upset and
  • Losing communities built up through business/feeling disconnected with families
  • Bad ending for children and users, very abrupt, loss in relationship
  • Freelance from fulltime job to run forest school, working a couple of sessions
  • Council permissions scrapped, lots of cancellations from regular clients
  • What will happen after this, will everyone be in a position to return to it?
  • Difficult if on a list of vulnerable people.
  • In the middle of training – how will qualification be achieved, not keen on doing it remotely.
  • What happens if this continues for 3-4 months.
  • Some are TAs at school and doing FS in addition to other duties, so feeling lucky.
  • Knowing what forest school will look like when we get to the other side. FS through video? Is it diluting what FS is about?
  • Small business. Worry about clients, especially those with SEND / mental health issues. Supporting families – lots of time taken but no income.
  • Missing being outdoors
  • Handling refunds
  • Finance
  • Knowing children are missing out, and that they don’t come
  • How long are we planning for? Unknown! Stressful
  • Missing relationships
  • Will momentum of FS continue as life changes, and budgets are impacted?
  • Concerns over other people’s judgments about practicing (eg. Passers-by) – discussed having some evidence – eg letter from employer/council explaining what you are doing, carrying ID. Template letter from FSA?
  • Loss of work and livelihood. Once over how do get back into it?
  • Ongoing infection management? Referred to template Risk-Benefit Assessment on FSA website.
  1. What are the opportunities the crisis is presenting?
  • More social and emotional coaching
  • To be an escape from ‘the world’
  • Reaching new people
  • More value on outdoor time
  • CO2 level decreased
  • Touching base via zoom meets is good, important to talk to each other
  • Children/ young people – will need a lot of support/help for dealing with trauma understanding
  • Fear requires us to find some grounding
  • Working together
  • Material for parents/ families – raise the profile of FSA?
  • Google Classrooms – opportunity to keep in contact with the children – FS leader staying in touch with children – dialogue with the children, through the school website.
  • ‘Forest School from home’ experiment – Sarah Walker FS leader Stonesfield Primary – Oxfordshire – Sarah is uploading simple videos.
  • Dawn Waterhouse – Home educated her children. Space to find out what the children want to do. Not prescribing. Coming back to core values.
  • Good to have FSA a lobbying force
  • We may as FS leaders be well placed to help deal with the restorative process when this is all over. Makes it all the more important that we look after each other in the meantime.
  • Good that connections can happen in other new ways now
  • How can we be best prepared to be at the forefront of community building? What can we do from here?
  • Kicking us forest folk into the modern world! Tech, the fact that we are doing Zoom now wouldn’t have happened
  • Time- to work on business and ourselves
  • Getting kids involved- YouTube videos ‘how to’. Wouldn’t have done otherwise
  • Opportunity- Increasing social media/tech knowledge
  • Increased awareness of how important for health and well-being outdoors is, must build on
  • Practicing Forest School on own children.
  • Online courses Centre of Excellent
  • Zoom meeting online with families whilst in isolation
  • Facebook platform increasing followers
  • Using FB to increase followers
  • Meeting new FS Leaders
  • Home educator – can take the little boy to work, spending time with son is a benefit.
  • Opportunity to bring together the FSA and different parties within it. Partly around protecting the integrity of what we do.
  • Massive opportunity for FS to drive the message around what we do or what we facilitate and o really push that home about what we offer. Would like to see that on a different level. Thinking of friends who deliver FS in schools, where they are almost a key worker and easy to skip sessions etc – it’s only FS after all.
  • FSA working to keep us connected is something we all agree on. BIG THUMBS UP FROM ALL!
  • Videos – nettle crisps, wild garlic and cheese scones – woodland pack
  • Keeping
  • Online video resources platform – Red Squirrel resources
  • Sort out tools, make new tinder bags etc
  • Using online resources to connect.
  • More flexibility in classrooms that are still running with key workers children. Hopefully, teachers and parents will see the benefits of child-led learning!
  1. What further online support can the FSA provide through the crisis like training webinars on certain topics such as dealing with trauma, coaching, NVC, etc?
  • More support for adult sessions
  • Community spaces and support
  • Facebook advertising, share some ideas, build reputation, connect with regional groups,
  • Trauma training
  • Focusing on developing the skills we will need
  • Organise some mindful/ meditation/ strategies for us to use as a way of protecting our mental health
  • How to stay calm. Ways to support each other.
  • more training and resources please on trauma and bereavement. The ‘landscape’ may change for so many people after this crisis – we would like to fee better equipped to ‘hold the space’ for our participants
  • How to frame FS as an essential provision in these uncertain times- eg. anxiety, agoraphobia
  • More Zoom meetings- THANK YOU! It was really great to connect to others in the same situation
  • Advice- clothing etc, detailed things we now need to think about, Risk-Benefit
  • Can FSA mentors help with tech
  • Freelancers charter
  • Could FSA offer support eg. membership (affiliated now available ?)
  • Could FSA have national input in sending out safe activities for schools to include in Forest School sessions?
  • We all thought that the CPD webinar courses that were mentioned would be brilliant.
  • Digital catch-ups simply to network and widen our connections would help us all to feel less isolated. People will have been affected by COVID on many levels in their own families, and social networks that we will all need support and by catching up on a social online way would be really beneficial.
  • Regular updates with regards to business updates
  • More help for FS leaders not currently working – support – ways to
  • Business marketing support/ideas
  • Advice on various setups – CIC, Independent, self-employed, sole trader, contracts with schools ongoing advice for future protection
  • Keep dates for October for FSA Conference – some people have planned around it
  • Skills sharing
  • NVC – soft skills
  • Storytelling group? Track seasons . . .
  • Trees labeled for people out on their walks etc – could be QR codes? FSA provides a resource that we can all link to – then promote FSA and FS – this was brought to you by . . .
  1. What questions do you have for the FSA?
  • Linking to income resources
  • Can we do this again, please?!
  • Future of the FSA conference- web conference?
  • Important question to ask the FSA at this point about those partway through training.
  • Integrity of FS
  • Online provision is different
  • where can we find recordings from previous conferences?
  • it would be lovely to hear of any stories anyone has which we can share on our sites
  • Just as the FSA has a rate for members to advertise events/job offers etc. perhaps they could have a reduced/free fee for practitioners to share their podcasts, online events etc. and do a weekly mail out?


Sharing Offers from Attendees in Chat Bar:

  • Lorna Stoddart : Happy to share the ideas we have running and that are working locally – email greenwood.growth@gmail.com
  • Jess Walton : Shameless self-promotion…. Facebook – please do follow Fresh Air Learning and see my funny daily videos. x
  • Dawn Corkish : hi all, I am happy to host a virtual Friday night round the fire chat if anyone is interested
  • Lizzie Banks : Happy to share – muddy puddle club cic
  • Lewis Ames : We’re still recording episodes of ‘The Forest School Podcast’ at:
  • https://anchor.fm/theforestschoolpodcast
  • and live at:
  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_GRTxb-DJkqvUxgWin9QRg
  • forestschooled.com – having a virtual fire on Friday afternoon
  • redsquirrelresources.co.uk videos and written downloads for each topic / game / activity / craft / story / song


More Sharing Opportunities:

Gareth mentioned the forthcoming blog page that the FSA will be facilitating, where sharing can happen. Please email us if you would like to contribute.

enquiries@forestschoolassociation.org  – all ideas welcome

Finally here’s a poem that relates to this opening from Francescan priest – Brother Richard – see https://brorichardblog.blogspot.com/2020/03/lockdown-brother-richard-hendrick.html?fbclid=IwAR0gUsO8EMNbh661KN-50r5u17Pbxd2hWhNkrMhpw-BgYsFfsnY0A9AWKTY


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

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