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Sylva Wood School enews

posted on October 24, 2019

We’ve released another enews for those interested in our activities related to the Sylva Wood School.

We’ve enjoyed a busy autumn at the Sylva Wood School delivering many successful courses. It’s been great to have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who has taken part. We hope you enjoy reading more about some of these in the enews.

Our spring schedule of courses is now live on our website. We have a great range of courses available including some favourites with our expert invited tutors, as well as some new courses led by me. Perhaps we’ll be able to welcome you to join us on a course soon.

Our courses would make a unique Christmas or birthday gift for someone special. We have vouchers available on our online shop if you are not sure which course they would prefer.

Best wishes,
Joseph Bray

To find out more about our recent events, and the new programme of courses for spring 2020, click here.

Wood School enews-Oct19

Read more from our Sylva Wood School enews-Oct19

 


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Raising the House of Wessex

posted on July 9, 2019

Last weekend we held an Anglo-Saxon Spectacular at the Sylva Wood Centre with the raising of the timber frame for the House of Wessex.

Following many months of planning and hard work preparing the timber frame with dozens of volunteers, work got underway on Wednesday last week in raising the frame. Just five days later, the frame was up. About 60 volunteers from the Carpenter’s Fellowship worked on the beautiful frame of oak, sweet chestnut, ash, and birch.

On Saturday evening we invited many of the volunteers involved in the project to join us in celebrating the raising of the frame, including archaeologists, local historians, local people, and the craftspeople for the next phases of wattling, daubing, and thatching. At the end of the fifth day, as tradition dictates, we added a sprig of oak to the ridge in a topping out ceremony.

We hope you enjoy this short timelapse film, which captures the digging of the trench foundations with an archaeological watching brief, the raising of the frame, and the filling back in of the trenches at the end.

Over the coming weeks we will be installing the hazel hurdles and begin the thatching. If you are interested in the project, make sure you visit the House of Wessex webpage to find out more.

Our thanks to all the amazing volunteers for their hard work, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the project.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Bringing Children Closer to Nature

posted on July 8, 2019

In a report published today, educators and woodland owners from across the UK provide a much-needed snapshot of how they are bringing children closer to nature through Forest School practice and outdoor learning. This report reveals how practitioners overcome significant barriers to bringing children closer to nature and how this can be sustained.

Forest Schools for All report

Forest Schools for All report – visit the webpage

The report is the result of an online survey undertaken in late 2018 by adults who work with children outdoors, particularly Forest School practitioners. A total of 1,171 people took part, mostly educators (1,080), alongside private woodland owners (94) with an interest in bringing children closer to nature.

The most common barriers to sustaining Forest School described by educators were funding, time, and access to woodland sites. Contributions from parents were important for funding in many schools, except among deprived schools, indicating that greater targeted support is required to ensure all children are brought closer to nature. Challenges of the school timetable and curriculum can be overcome when the Head Teacher and senior leadership understand and make Forest School a priority. For sites, the majority of schools in the survey used their own school grounds for Forest School, therefore reducing barriers arising from location and cost. Woodland owners in this survey were found to play a critical role in providing free access to woodland for educators not based in schools.

FSFA report infographic

FSFA report infographic

The report authors recommend seven key outcomes as a result of their findings.

  1. Schools with successful Forest School and/or outdoor learning should be advocates and share experience with schools that do not have Forest School and outdoor learning programmes.
  2. Government should consider the significant societal and financial benefits arising from embedding the provision of outdoor learning in the curriculum.
  3. The outdoor learning sector should be proactive in advancing further the school curriculum by working closely with government.
  4. The forestry and arboricultural sector should explore how best to support educators in providing tree and site management advice.
  5. New grant schemes should be designed and tested that would help overcome barriers to outdoor learning, and support sought from grant providers.
  6. A new online platform could be designed to support outdoor learning among practitioners and woodland owners, and funding sought for its delivery.
  7. Further research commissioned to increase understanding of the needs of deprived schools, and how barriers may be overcome.

Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation said:

“We are so pleased to have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to the survey. Sylva Foundation and its partners are proud to have given hundreds of educators and woodland owners across the country a voice at national level. We believe that the results of the survey will carry significant weight and we urge everyone who wants to bring all children closer to nature to read this report and support its recommendations.”

Victoria Edwards, Chief Executive, The Ernest Cook Trust, said:

“This report is really helpful in directing how we can broaden our reach at The Ernest Cook Trust. We are already using it to fine tune our work in supporting an environmentally engaged society. We are grateful to Sylva for identifying some key barriers to outdoor learning and look forward to piloting new ways of working identified by the report.”

The survey was part of a the Forest School for All project led by Sylva Foundation, an environmental charity, with funding and support provided by The Ernest Cook Trust.

The full survey report and further information about the Forest Schools for All project can be found at: sylva.org.uk/forestschools/report

ENDS


Notes for Editors

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation: jen@sylva.org.uk or 01865408018
See also: www.sylva.org.uk/forestschools

The Forest Schools for All project is a bold education initiative led by Sylva Foundation, in partnership with the Forest School Association, and The Ernest Cook Trust, which is also the main funder of the project. The three leading environmental education organisations have come together with the ultimate aim of increasing and sustaining access to Forest Schools for all children.

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity working to help trees and people grow together. Founded in 2009, the charity works with thousands of woodland owners managing in excess of 80,000 hectares across Britain, and has projects with many government agencies, major NGOs, and businesses. The Forest Schools for All project is among a number of education initiatives led by the charity, including Timber! which offers free resources on trees and wood, and myForest for Education which helps educators manage their sites to ensure the best outcomes for children and nature.

The Ernest Cook Trust (ECT), based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. The Ernest Cook Trust actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education initiatives (including Forest School) on its own estates, through partnerships with other organisations, and through its dedicated grant-giving programme. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk


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Forestry Skills Plan published

posted on February 12, 2019

The Forestry Skills Forum has produced a five-year plan to promote education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, while maintaining close links with the equivalent group in Scotland.

The Forestry Skills Plan identified four key themes for action:

  1. talent attraction
  2. employer support
  3. education provision
  4. skills and technical knowledge.
Forestry Skills Plan 2019

Forestry Skills Plan 2019 – click to download

Each theme has several work strands. The plan takes each theme in turn and develops their work strands into action plans.

Sylva Foundation’s Head of Forest Education, Jen Hurst, who currently chairs the Forest Education Network for England, commented:

“The Forestry Skills Action Plan is the successful result of research, collaboration and partnership between many forestry skills and forest education organisations in England. England’s forestry sector urgently needs more people all ages and backgrounds to choose a rewarding and exciting career pathway in our woodlands and forests; this action plan identifies clearly how this will be done.”

The plan is owned by the Forestry Skills Forum, and delivered by the Forum members. It is hosted on the website of the Royal Forestry Society.

About the Forestry Skills Forum

The Forestry Skills Forum is dedicated to promoting education, skills, learning and development across the forestry sector in England and Wales, and maintains close links with the equivalent group in Scotland. Members comprise the sector’s leading authorities, charities, companies, educational institutions and training providers. They represent all areas of the sector, including employers, trade associations, education providers, funders, research centres, and include specialists in all age groups: early years, primary, secondary, further and higher education. The FSF is an independent group, supported by Forestry Commission England.

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How can more children get closer to nature?

posted on November 14, 2018

Three of England’s leading environmental education charities have joined forces to explore how more children could be better connected with nature. Our interest is in outdoor education in wooded areas and forests, particularly Forest School practice, and we welcome a wide range of views from all outdoor educators and woodland owners.

Survey partners Sylva Foundation, Forest School Association, and The Ernest Cook Trust are running this survey as part of the Forest Schools for All project funded by The Ernest Cook Trust. The project is focussed on delivery in England, while for this survey the researchers are interested in receiving responses from the whole of the UK. This will allow comparison between countries, and provide valuable data for use by others in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Bringing Children Closer to Nature national survey

Enabling children to be closer to nature, especially by learning and exploring in wooded areas and forests, was recognised as a key action in the government’s 25-year Environment Plan, published earlier this year. Yet despite the well-proven benefits of children spending regular time outdoors—including health and wellbeing, attitudes to learning, and environmental awareness—there is poor understanding about the current level of outdoor activities for young people across England, particularly in wooded areas and forests.

The Bringing Children Closer to Nature survey aims to explore barriers and opportunities to activities in wooded areas and forests, including the practice of Forest School, and it will quantify any issues preventing development and growth. Its three main aims are to:

  1. acquire basic information, including the number and distribution of schools and other organisations who do forest education activities including Forest School, and the levels of training and skills among practitioners;
  2. understand more about barriers and opportunities to establishing and sustaining forest education, including Forest School, among host organisations (e.g. schools, early years nurseries) and practitioners, and explore how these could be overcome;
  3. explore potential interest among woodland owners in providing greater access to woodland sites to support forest education, including Forest School.

This national survey forms part of the Forest Schools for All project, a partnership between Sylva Foundation, The Ernest Cook Trust (funder) and The Forest School Association

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said:

“Efforts to enable, increase, and sustain activities for young people in our woodlands and other outdoor areas across England have been held back by a poor evidence base. This important survey will provide a powerful voice for those with an interest and expertise in bringing children closer to nature. The survey outcomes will help inform delivery, funding opportunities, and policy development and will be freely available.”

Chief Executive of The Ernest Cook Trust, Dr Victoria Edwards, said:

“It’s been invaluable to work alongside experienced professionals at Sylva Foundation and Forest School Association to produce such a targeted research survey. The outcomes will influence decisions on how we work at The Ernest Cook Trust in broadening our reach to inspire young people to learn from the land.

The survey was launched in November 2018 and will remain open until the end of the year. Research outcomes will summarised in a freely-accessible report in early 2019. Those people interested in taking the survey can read more and follow a link to it here: www.sylva.org.uk/survey

click here to take part in the British Woodlands 2012 survey

click here to take part in the survey

Download the press release

ENDS


Notes for Editors

Contacts:

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews please contact Jen Hurst, Head of Forest Education, Sylva Foundation.  jen@sylva.org.uk or 01865 408018

Images:

Images are available to download (reproduction free). Please contact us for further information. All images © Sylva Foundation.

About the partners:

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity helping trees and people grow together. From its base at the Sylva Wood Centre in Oxfordshire, it works across the UK supporting sustainable forest management with thousands of woodland owners. It works widely in partnership with other organisations in delivering environmental and educational projects, under the themes of science, education, forestry, and wood. www.sylva.org.uk

The Ernest Cook Trust, based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside. It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes (including Forest School training) on its own estates, through partnerships with other organisations, and through its grant-giving programme. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m in dedicated grants to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk

The Forest School Association is the National professional body for Forest School, running the recognised providers and trainers’ scheme to ensure high quality Forest School. It has more than 2,000 members. www.forestschoolassociation.org


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Tree Tools for Schools

posted on June 21, 2018

We were pleased to have been approached by the Woodland Trust for help in developing a new national resource for schools to be called Tree Tools for Schools. The resources are now live on the Woodland Trust website.

Tree Tools for Schools

Tree Tools for Schools

Our team adapted some existing Sylva Foundation education resources to develop the ‘Working with Wood’ activities. The activity worksheets and teachers notes cover five topic areas all linked to subjects areas in the Key Stage 2 Primary School Curriculum:

  • What does wood mean to you? Learn how wood has been used throughout history and how it is used today.
  • Different trees for different needs! Discover the many reasons for planting trees. And find out how a tiny acorn grows into a mighty oak!
  • The story of wood: from tree to table! Follow the journey of a tree from the forest to the sawmill and see how it’s transformed into a table.
  • What are broadleaf and conifer trees? Learn about hardwoods and softwoods, and how they are different.
  • The power of planting trees! Find out why we need to plant millions more trees in the UK. And start your own campaign to inspire others!

Visit the Woodland Trust website

 


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Forest Schools for All

posted on June 15, 2018

Forest Schools for All is a bold new education project for Sylva Foundation, in partnership with the Forest School Association, and The Ernest Cook Trust, which is also the main funder of the project. The three leading environmental education organisations have come together with the ultimate aim of increasing and sustaining access to Forest Schools for all children.

Celebrating the launch of FSFA 11June2018

Celebrating the announcement of ‘Forest Schools for All’ during a Forest School session at the Sylva Wood Centre: Simon Gould (Director of Learning, Ernest Cook Trust), Jen Hurst (Education Manager, Sylva Foundation) and Sarah Lawfull (Director, Forest School Association).

For the next two years we will develop and test new approaches across three English countries—Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire—with a view to rolling these out at national scale across England (and perhaps the UK) with more partners, support, and funding.

Sylva Foundation Chief Executive, Gabriel Hemery, said “This project builds on the past ten years of Sylva Foundation’s innovative forest education projects, in particular work to support woodland management in Forest Schools thanks to funding from the Patsy Wood Trust.” He continued “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Forest School Association, and especially grateful to The Ernest Cook Trust for agreeing, not only to fund the project, but to act as a main partner.”

The Ernest Cook Trust Chief Executive, Victoria Edwards, said: “Sylva Foundation is a natural fit for The Ernest Cook Trust as we collaborate more and build partnerships with like-minded organisations and estates. Forest Schools for All will both support a more strategic approach to the type of demographic we reach in our education work, and give our outdoor learning team a great opportunity to pilot and refine Forest School programmes across our estates and beyond.“

Project highlights

  • The project will start in summer 2018 with the first national online survey of Forest Schools. We aim to provide much-needed evidence about the barriers and opportunities to establishing and sustaining Forest Schools. The survey outcomes will also help us measure project progress.
  • In the first two years of this project, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire will be focus counties. Supported by national survey results, we will develop pilot projects in these counties, aiming to overcome barriers to establishing and sustaining Forest Schools.
  • The three counties will aim to become national examples of Forest School excellence by having a high quantity and a high quality of Forest Schools through the FSA-recognised provider scheme.
  • The Ernest Cook Trust will create England’s first ever dedicated grants programme for Forest Schools and Woodland Owners. These small grants will be critical drivers of the project by providing much needed contributions towards the costs of Forest School Leader training, and also the costs of Forest School site development in school grounds or private woodlands.
  • To achieve and sustain the national strategic ambitions of the Forest Schools for All project we will invite public, private and charitable organisations, and individual stakeholders, to share in this exciting vision.

Further Information

What is Forest School?

Forest School is a unique approach that gives young people increased contact with, and knowledge of, the natural world, and a powerful process that enables the holistic personal development of young people.

Since 1993, regular Forest School sessions have become part of the mainstream timetable in thousands of schools across the UK: they are very popular with parents, teachers, children and Ofsted. More details about the six Forest School principles of good practice can be found at: https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/full-principles-and-criteria-for-good-practice.

Partner organisations

The Ernest Cook Trust (ECT), based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, inspiring young people to achieve better educational and life outcomes by learning from the land and is rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside.  It owns and manages more than 8,900 hectares of landed estates across five English counties. ECT actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through education programmes (including Forest School training) on its estates, and by giving grants. Each year its Trustees distribute around £2m to a range of education initiatives. www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk 

The Forest School Association is the National professional body for Forest School, running the recognised providers and trainers’ scheme to ensure high quality Forest School. It has more than 2,000 members.  www.forestschoolassociation.org

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity offering UK-wide support for forest schools via the myForest for Education website (more than 1,000 registered users). It owns a small estate in Oxfordshire, where it runs the Sylva Wood Centre fostering innovation and enterprise in wood. It has strong links with the woodland owner community across the UK (4,000 owners managing 70,000ha).  www.sylva.org.uk


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Putting the Forestry into Forest Education

posted on March 31, 2017

Last week eighty forest educators came together at Bishops Wood Centre to increase their skills and knowledge in forestry at a conference run by England’s Forest Education Network (FEN). Sylva Foundation played a key role in developing the forestry theme of the conference and helping deliver the conference in its role as one of six national organisations on the FEN steering group.

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

Jen Hurst delivers the woodland management workshop

In partnership with Royal Forestry Society and Bishops Wood, Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst ran a workshop “Wonderful ways with woodland management that accommodates education”. Participants in the workshop were introduced to woodland management through games, group activities and lively discussions on the complexities of sustainably managing a woodland for multiple objectives. A Forest School Leader trainer commented:

“We are looking forward to passing on the woodland management tips to our Forest School trainees.”

During the workshop Sylva’s myForest for Education was introduced as a free online tool to support educators in developing their own woodland management plans for their sites. Some participants commented:

“It’s a really useful tool” and “Sylva Foundation was very inspiring.”

Participants also took part in two other workshops on the day including: Seeing the wood for the trees – the importance of identification and tree health awareness for woodland management, run by Forestry Commission and Field Studies Council; and Resilient Woodlands for the future, making the right tree planting choices run by the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission.

Learning in the woods

Learning in the woods

Conference feedback showed that FEN had successfully put the forestry back into forest education!

If you would like to be involved in future FEN events, have access to free education resources, keep up to date with national forest education organisations and join this growing network of forest educators join FEN!

 


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Hundreds of young people to help plant the Future Forest

posted on January 20, 2017
Sylva's Tree Team Educators Jen Hurst and Pieternel Overweel teach the Sylva Plant a Tree! song to Robins Reception class at St Francis Church of England Primary School.

Sylva’s Tree Team Educators Jen Hurst and Pieternel Overweel teach the Sylva Plant a Tree! song to Robins Reception class at St Francis Church of England Primary School.

We have welcomed in the New Year in the best way possible: inviting hundreds of young people to plant trees in the Future Forest.

Sylva’s staff, Education Manager Jen Hurst and volunteer Pieternel Overweel, have been working closely with 20 primary school classes (500 children) thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help and the Ernest Cook Trust.

Sylva Tree Team

Sylva Tree Team

During January we have been visiting the schools to talk about trees, forestry and tree planting. All the children will be visiting the site of the Future Forest to plant their trees during February. These young students are excited to be joining the Sylva Tree Team.

 

School students planting the Future Forest

School students planting the Future Forest

In addition to preparing the primary schools we’ve been welcoming secondary school students and special needs groups, thanks to collaboration with Earth Trust who have long-established links with local schools.

The 600+ children helping us plant the new woodland will be a long way forward in a journey learning about and taking responsibility for the environment, after all:

“All human beings should plant one tree for every year that they live on Earth.”
Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblet, The New Sylva (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014)

 

 


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The Sylva Tree Team has landed

posted on January 13, 2017
Sylva Tree Team

The Sylva Tree Team

Hundreds of schoolchildren are poised to visit the Future Forest to help plant trees. Luckily they will be assisted by the Sylva Tree Team.

Name: Sylva Tree Team

Members:  Captain Chainsaw, Bark the Wonder Dog, Professor Nuts, and Sally the Psychic Squirrel

Base:  Tree Team Zone in the Sylva Future Forest

Mission:  caring for trees and forests

Powers:  silviculture

Gear:  super saws, tree gun, book of knowledge

Captain Chainsaw is strong and fearless. She helps trees grow better by pruning their branches. Sometimes she cuts trees down so their timber can be used to build houses or make furniture. Her work in the forest lets sunlight reach the trees, and helps make homes and food for wildlife. In the spring she likes to help Professor Nuts with planting more trees. She loves her steel-capped boots and super saws. Her favourite tree is the cedar.

Bark the Wonder Dog is always busy helping the Sylva Tree Team. His favourite job is digging holes to help Professor Nuts plant more trees. He often carries sticks in his mouth for Captain Chainsaw. When he thinks no one is looking, he sometimes chases Sally Squirrel!

Professor Nuts is a genius. He writes books to help everyone learn about trees and how to look after them. He knows everything about how trees grow, which trees to plant where, and how to protect them from pests and diseases. He invented a tree gun which can plant one thousand trees every hour. He sometimes forgets things, but Bark is always nearby to remind him. His favourite tree is the walnut and he really likes wearing wellington boots.

Sally the Psychic Squirrel is very sparky and lively but often invisible in the treetops. She has special powers and gives the Sylva Tree Team clues to help them see what might happen to forests in the future. This is important because trees take a long time to grow. Her archenemy is Grey Squirrel who threatens her home planet.

Sylva Tree Team poster - click to download

Sylva Tree Team poster – click to download

Resources

Download the Sylva Tree Team poster

Visit the Sylva Tree Team webpage

 

All images copyright © 2017 Mark Hawkins

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