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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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myForest for Education – a national first for forest education

posted on May 6, 2015

myForest for EducationWe are excited to announce the launch of myForest for Education: the UK’s first woodland management planning application designed specifically for education.

myForest for Education has been developed as a new feature in the recently-launched myForest version 3.0. In designing and building myForest for Education, we consulted closely with more than 100 Forest School Leaders, environmental educators and teachers who participated in early trials and contributed ideas.

The outcome is myForest for Education – an easy-to-use and free online application that enables any educator, or young person, to generate straightforward woodland management plans, maps and ecological impact assessments for woodland sites and school grounds.

myForest education

A screenshot from the myForest for Education application. The smallest of features can be mapped and described. A management plan can then be created for your site.

 

Key Features:

  • Forest School Leaders undertaking Level 3 training users can produce a Forest School site management plan and ecological impact assessment.
  • Educators using any school grounds, woodland site or other outdoor space in the UK can create printable maps with features and labels.
  • Responsive design, which means it fits the size of the screen you are using, making it easy to use with tablets and laptops.
  • Guidance throughout using ‘context-sensitive’ help.

Sylva Foundation’s Education Manager Jen Hurst said,

“​myForest for Education creates a bridge between the worlds of forestry and education, and it will increase engagement of educators and young people in real life sustainable forest management”.

myForest for Education training workshops are currently being planned at several locations across the UK. They will be targeted at Forest School Leaders, environmental educators or teachers interested learning more about the power of myForest for Education. More information will be posted here soon.

 

We are grateful to our partners the Oxfordshire Forest School Service, based at Hill End Centre near Oxford, and the national Forest School Association for their input and for providing opportunities to run consultation and training workshops with educators.

Find out more myForest for Education

You can also email Jen Hurst for more information

Patsy Wood Trust

Funded by the Patsy Wood Trust


We are indebted to the Patsy Wood Trust for supporting the appointment of Sylva’s Education Manager, and the development of the myForest for Education application.

 


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Oxfordshire Forest School Leaders trained in Woodland Management Planning

posted on December 4, 2014
OFSS training

Oxfordshire Forest School Leaders in training

As part of their Level 3 Forest School training, teachers from schools across Oxfordshire were introduced to woodland management theory and practice on Thursday November 27th at the Hill End Outdoor Education Centre. Sylva’s Education Manager Jen Hurst worked in partnership with Oxfordshire Forest School Service trainers Sarah Lawfull and Mhairi Macgillivray-Edwards to deliver the training.

As part of Sylva’s myForest for Education project, the Forest School trainees were led by Jen around a Forest School site. The Forest School Leaders mapped the site, carried out a tree inventory and ecological impact assessment. We had lively and informative debates about management issues such as tree pests and diseases, woodland habitat enhancement, developing areas for children’s play and exploration and wood production. Jen signposted the trainees to the wealth of organisations and information that exist in the forestry sector for further support and information on woodland management.

A Forest School Leader commented:

“Thank you for a great session, this will really help me do my own management plan for my forest school site.”

The training day also provided Sylva with further user feedback that will help in the development of the new version of ‘myForest for Education‘, which will be launched in March 2015.


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