Mayl 2015 e-bulletin from the FSA 
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 May 2015: The Word from the Woods - feel free to forward this on
Dear Member,

Lots in this month's bulletin but the big news is that we have another excellent line-up of speakers and workshops ready for the national Forest School conference this year and have started to take bookings. Also, the Forest School WIKI is now live and is starting to have new subject pages added. Why not have a look around, pick up some ideas, and add a couple of pages to share your knowledge and experience so that others may benefit. Finally, welcome to FSA Kent and Medway as a newly affiliated local group. 
Gareth Davies (CEO)
Please click through links below


FSA News: What's new in the FSA
Monthly Director's Update: Geoff mason (FSA Director responsible for Research) 
Events: There are currently 8 events listed on the FSA website
Jobs: There are 5 current job adverts listed on the FSA website
National Conference Update: This years conference
Other NewsNational and Regional news


FSA Planned Activity: What we are planning to do next
Local Groups
Funding Opportunities
Member Benefits: Highlighting member benefits and how to access them
How to engage with the FSA

Bulletin Content

FSA News

  • National Forest School conference bookings now open
  • The Forest School WIKI is ready so dive in folks. Just log into the FSA website and go to the wiki homepage (found in the main menu). It takes just 5 mins to learn how to add content - please do read the guidance. Start adding new subject pages under the most appropriate sub-topic home pages. We are building the most comprehensive knowledge base for Forest School in the world. 
  • FSA Kent and Medway local group now formally affiliated
  • The treasurer role has been filled. Thank you to Lily Horseman for taking it on. 
  • The FSA uses the Facebook page as a public news outlet not as a tool for communicating with our members. Members are able to communicate with the FSA, and each other, through the FSA website forums (moderated by directors). Replies to posts on this page will no longer appear and are not monitored. Unfortunately, Facebook prevents us from turning off replies completely.
  • Latest subject pages in the Forest School WIKI (log into the website to view)
    • Straw poll of commercial rates conducted in 2014
    • Recycled Christmas Tree Den Design
    • Campfire entertainment and singing 
  • Latest forum topics (members must be logged into the website)
    • Activities for under 5s
    • Tree climbing
    • Who can lead when I am gone?
    • Does Wales (North and/or South) need a FSA regional group?

Monthly Director's Update

When elected to the FSA committee the members become Directors of the organisation as well as trustees of the charity. Yes, the FSA is a charity, all donations gratefully received.
We are all volunteers who spend our working lives in a varied mix of FS related work. The roles we fulfil on the FSA committee generally reflect the skills or interests in our daily lives. We do our best to ensure that the FSA develops, grows and our ‘offer’ to the membership delivers what they want.
Membership input is our lifeblood – this is your organisation and we need to hear from you. Helpful and constructive contributions allow us to keep in touch and address the needs of members. We love to hear from you through the official FSA channels and at our popular and inclusive conferences.
At our last conference, at Danbury Outdoor in Essex, I was lucky to host a very well attended discussion group which looked at FS and Outdoor Learning Research. This is my FSA director portfolio area and it has been an eye opener for me.
I love lifelong learning and enjoy studying, but I had no idea how convoluted the world of academia actually is – to gather together a group of well-respected, and busy, academics is like herding cats. Things move quite slowly and a great deal of time and thought has to be given to ethics and techniques in relation to the research subjects.
There is a great deal of research which is available to academics and researchers but not to the general populace – how we signpost members to this and win access to previously unavailable material is a concern for me; but is this actually what our grassroots members want, or need?
I am very pleased that the FSA now has a new member benefit available which, we hope, will become the ‘go to’ place for FS advice and, ultimately, usable research. This is the FSA Wiki. Not everyone knows how to use a Wiki – yet; but it is open to all members to contribute to and guide the content. I would like to see a Wiki ‘love-in’ at our next conference so that members can see it in action and we can tackle any issues for people who may feel worried about contributing.
Please get involved and help the Wiki develop into something which you will use and find helpful in developing and supporting your FS practice.

Geoff Mason (Director with responsibility for research) 

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Unfortunately, this month no member had anything they wanted to say. Maybe it will be like buses and we will get three coming all at once next month. Fingers crossed. 

Each month a member will have an opportunity to raise a Forest School topic or issue that interests them and that may be thought provoking for the wider community. If you would like to write something in fewer than 300 words, ready for next month, please email so that we can discuss it. It can be anything related to Forest School practice, business or even politics so long as it is tolerably well written, fair and reasonable (or maybe unreasonable, in which case it should be funny). 

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National Conference Update

FSA National Conference and AGM 2015

6pm Friday 23rd to 2.30pm Sun 25th October 2015
Condover Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY5 7AU.

The title for the conference is:  "Forest School : Play and Principles"

Full programme, shared dorm accommodation & food: £175 members/£215 non members (other options available, please see booking form ).

Places are limited, so do book early to avoid disappointment. Full information

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Other News

  • The UK’s first woodland management planning application designed specifically for education is launched: myForest 
  • Lessons from Near and Far: improving links between policy and research around children’s learning outside the classroom in natural environments (LINE).
    This one day conference on 3rd July 2015 at the University of East London aims to explore how policy and research can better inform each other in support of LINE and its benefits for society. Further details are in the attached. More information
  • A short YouTube video from Forest School at Robert Kett Junior School
  • Living Near More Trees Linked To Less Antidepressant Prescriptions  (fewer!) 
  • Are you involved with trying to measure the impact of your own or your colleagues work?
    Are you working with a provider of outdoor learning to measure impact and/or produce a report?
    If you are aware of any outdoor learning impact reporting produced since 2004 please send a copy or a description of the report to Professor Sandy Oliver  More information 
  • Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC - Deadline 17th July 2015 More information 
  • Den Day - Save the Children 
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FSA Planned Activity

  • The Forest School Quality Improvement Framework (QUIF) was developed by the Forestry Commission a few years ago. As the role of the Forestry Commission (FC) changes in Scotland and Wales, with regards supporting woodland learning, the FC has agreed that the FSA will be taking on the QUIF and developing it further to meet a number of practitioner quality review needs. A working party is being  put together to complete the work, which should be competed this year. 
  • Development of a Forest School Trainers endorsement scheme. This is a significant area of work and key to our strategy of improving and standardising the quality of Forest School. A working group comprising invited FSA Directors, Members of the GB Trainers Network and other key people in the sector will be meeting in Birmingham on 2nd March to discuss how this should move forward (listed below). 
  • An approved CPD provider scheme is also being looked at as we receive frequent requests for recommendations in this area. 
  • Planning of the 2015 national Forest school conference.
  • Further guidance notes informed by members needs and wishes. Please let us know which guidance notes you think the FSA should produce next - and why - on the forum
  • Production of case studies
  • Support and establishment of Local Groups - see below 
  • The FSA directors have met monthly since the elections held in November last year. Responsibilities and areas of work agreed so far are as follows:
    • Jon Cree - (Chair), Conference 
    • Aline Hill - (Deputy Chair), Case Studies & Editing guidance notes, strategy on members benefits, newsletters
    • Louise Ambrose - (Acting Deputy Chair) Local Groups, guidance notes, conference
    • Robert Locke - (Company Secretary) 
    • (Treasurer) - Lily Horseman 
    • Sara Collins - Social Media & engaging members
    • Helen Martin - guidance on Ofsted and Forest School
    • Lily Horseman - guidance notes
    • Geoff Mason - Research
    • Adrian Goodhand - Social media
    • Chris Millett - Trainers Endorsement Scheme, 
  • Some working groups that are operating at present:
    • Conference - Jon Cree and Louise Ambrose
    • Membership Engagement - Aline Hill, Sara Collins, Gareth Davies
    • Website content/Wiki development/guidance notes - Lily Horseman, Aline Hill, Sara Collins, Gareth Davies
    • Forest School Trainer Endorsement - Chris Millett, Lily Horseman, Gareth Davies, Sarah Lawfull, Richard Irvine, Mike Brady, Samantha Harman
    • Research - Geoff Mason, Jane Acton, Vicky Eyles, Geoffrey Guy, Frances Harris, Sara Knight, Mark Leather, Mel McCree, Vicki Stewart, Sue Waite, Phil Waters

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Local Groups

The map above shows the distributions of local Forest School groups that have either formally affiliated with the FSA (tents) or have expressed some interest in doing so (converging arrows). The brown icons with white arrows are county representatives in the South West group, which is is more of a regional group. Support for member networking opportunities at a local level is an important part of the FSA's strategy for adding value. As an FSA member you are welcome to join any local group. If there isn't one in your area yet you may consider being involved with setting one up

Each affiliated local group is a separate organisation. Some have their own websites, FaceBook groups, newsletters and mailing lists but the FSA handles membership and provides a web presence and free promotion and publicity of activities. However, all share a core belief in the Forest School ethos that is promoted by the national FSA and a desire to see quality Forest School. All members of the groups are also FSA members but each group runs events in their area that anyone is welcome to attend. 

It is still early days but the local groups have run various events such as skillshare days, discounted CPD opportunities, and FSA Essex even ran the national FS conference on behalf of the FSA last year. The local groups have the opportunity to share ideas and opportunities between themselves and with national FSA.

The FSA is an open and inclusive membership led organisation. We see the local groups as an expression of this. Our mutual support will continue to develop over the years. 

In future editions of the bulletin I would love to be able to promote key events and news from local groups. Local group reps please email 

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Funding Opportunities

If you know of any funding opportunities that may help other members please contribute to the 'Forest School Funding Opportunities' area of the forum.  

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Member Benefits

As a member you have access to a number of member only services and benefits. These will be developed and built on as the organisation grows. We want to be responsive to our members' needs so if you have a particular service that you would like to see introduced do please let us know by contacting


Members can access all the discount codes on the website here (must login first)
  • 5% discount on Muddy Faces products 
  • 10% discount on Wild Canvas products
  • 40% discount on Mum2Mum rainwear 
  • 43% discount on Rukka rainwear 
  • Up to £40 off conference fees 
  • Discounts on events run by FSA affiliated local groups and other FSA supported events ... publicised as they come
  • Cheaper insurance rate for practitioners and trainers. The FSA has negotiated a discounted insurance rate for practitioners and trainers with Birnbeck Insurance Services. The insurance package for members will be £159 for individual practitioners. For organisations this will depend on the type of organisation. Birnbeck can be contacted by email or tel 01934 522 252. Birnbeck cross-checks insurance applications with our membership database.
  • Discounted advertising of Forest School jobs on our publicly accessible jobs board. As a member you get a 50% discount when advertising Forest School jobs. Please use coupon code (you are welcome to use this code on behalf of an organisation that you work for but you must not share this code).
  • Discounted advertising of Forest School events on our events board. As a member you get an 83% discount when advertising an event on our events board. Please use coupon code (you are welcome to use this code on behalf of an organisation that you work for but you must not share this code).
2. Access to the FSA social network
You can communicate with members all over the UK and join special interest groups or share experiences / coordinate events with other members in your area. Please see the introductory video on how to use the social network.

3. Local groups
In addition to joining local groups in the social network, as an FSA member you are automatically eligible to join your local affiliated FSA group. These will offer opportunity for local networking and sharing of best practice. It is expected that the number of local groups will grow rapidly now that the FSA has drafted clear guidance notes on how to set up an affiliated FSA group.

4. Member only news
Keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Forest School by accessing the member only news section. Members with news stories are welcome to submit them to (they must involve an actual news story and NOT simply be orientated towards self promotion or publicity of an individual or company. News of upcoming events being run by groups or other networks is fine.

5. Reviews
See what our editors have to say about new Forest School products and services (from books to equipment). Have your say by leaving a comment. If enough people comment members will get to learn about the issues, what's good, what's bad and everything in between.

6. Case studies and articles
We know that Forest School works but it is important to have the evidence to inform researchers and decision makers. The FSA hopes to gather and collate practitioner case studies that will form an evidence base. Any member will be able to access it and hopefully get some new ideas or at least a different perspective but if you would like to contribute your own case study please read these guidance notes. Similarly, articles will be collated and made available. These can be searched for under the downloads section of the resource library using key words.

7. Bulletins
The FSA will email you 10-12 bulletins each year. Please make sure that you keep your email address up to date.

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How to Engage with the FSA

  1. For general inquiries including membership and events:
    Alice Skinner (FSA Administrator) 
    Telephone: 01228564407
  2. To contact one or more FSA directors please email the enquiries address above and mark for the attention of the relevant people ... if you are not sure who that is Alice will forward the email to the person who seems most appropriate.
  3. For non routine enquiries or issues please contact the FSA Chief Executive:
    Gareth Wyn Davies
  4. Members can share ideas and raise issues within the FSA website forum (members must login first). There is a specific area for asking the FSA directors questions. 
  5. All members have access to the social network within the FSA website. You can make connections with friends and join local groups. In this way you will be able to find out about and get involved with activities happening in your area. 
  6. Members can select to receive automatic email notifications when there are new posts on the website or when someone responds to your comments. 
  7. There are a growing number of emerging and formally affiliated local FSA groups. Please check the local groups map to find one near your. As this is all quite new please consider being involved with setting up a local group. 
  8. Your local group has a representative for day to day contact with the FSA directors and to share ideas / knowledge with other groups. You can ask for your thoughts to be passed to the FSA directors through your local representative. 
  9. Get yourself on the FSA members map and have your FS qualification verified by the FSA.
  • Total FSA membership is hovering just above the 1000 mark. The members map above only shows the 250 members who have submitted the necessary eForm to be listed on the members map
  • The map above shows the 112 members who have had their Forest School qualifications verified by the FSA and who now appear on a national database of qualified FS practitioners, searchable by the public. They are entitled to use the following badge and can link to their profile on the FSA website.

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