March 2015 bulletin from the FSA 
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March 2015 FSA monthly bulletin - feel free to forward this on
 
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NEW CONTENT


FSA News: What's new in the FSA
Monthly Director's Update: Jon Cree (Chair of the FSA), 'Mindfulness and more' 
Perspectives: a member's point of view  
Events: There are currently 7 events listed on the FSA website
Jobs: There are 12 current job adverts listed on the FSA website
National Conference Update: This years conference
Other NewsNational and Regional news
 

REFERENCE MATERIAL

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

Let us know what you think of the new format and content in the 'ask the directors' area of the forum (you need to login first) . . . With your help, let's see how it evolves. Feel free to forward the bulletin.
Bulletin Content

FSA News

  • Insurance cover required of Forest School practitioners by some local authorities has been doubled from £5m to £10m. Naturally, this results in a significant increase in insurance premiums for affected practitioners. The FSA understands that this is a result of local authority officers applying a blanket requirement that was originally intended to cover capital works. We have been working very closely with Birnbeck Insurance on this. While it may indeed be necessary to hold a higher level of insurance cover in some circumstances - particularly urban areas - the general advice is that you may want to consider challenging the requirement. In up to 9 out of 10 cases such a challenge has been successful. The FSA is working with Birnbeck Insurance to produce a template letter that our members can use to challenge such a requirement. It will be placed on the members only part of the FSA website when it is ready. 
  • Not all Level 3 Forest School qualifications are the same. Neither are Awarding Bodies OR Trainers! Read more
  • FSA now represented on the steering group of the Forest Education Network by Gareth Davies (FSA Chief Exec). Set up to promote all types of forest education in England, the Forest Education Network (FEN) is a forum for all types of forest education, from the forest floor to shop floor. Priorities for the FEN are to bring those with an interest in forest education together; promote the sharing of good practice; improve communication and help raise opportunities for, and standards in delivery. Primarily a networking and signposting resource, the FEN has a wide remit to promote a whole range of learning opportunities in relation to trees, woods and forests – and to raise awareness of woodlands as great places to learn. FEN is the successor body to the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) in England and is hosted by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC).
  • Name for the new e-bulletin. After polling the Forest School community on our Facebook page and on the FSA website forum we have generated a shortlist of 5 names. These are 
  1. The Word from the Woods
  2. Forest School News
  3. Leaf Letter 
  4. Smoke Signals
  5. Leaf-Let
Members can vote on the new name through this survey monkey link
  • Call for volunteer coordinator to handle reviews – of books, equipment etc. The FSA reviews products for its members' interest. We are looking for someone to help coordinate getting the right items to the right people at the right time for review in the e-bulletin and website. Please contact gareth@forestschoolassociation.org if you are interested. 
  • Do you have a website? Please consider linking to the FSA website. The more links we have the higher our page ranking with search engines like Google. This helps people find us and get our message out there. 
  • The FSA has negotiated a 5% discount on all Muddy Faces products for members (discount code login to FSA website first).
  • The FSA has negotiated a 10% discount on all Wild Canvas products (discount code login to FSA website first).
  •      
  • Latest forum topics (members must be logged into the website)

Monthly Director's Update

Further to Sara’s update last month here is my two pennyworths.  I, as many will know, am the chair of the FSA.  Someone close to me and a Forest Schoolly person asked recently why I took this on and why have I been so involved for all these years.  It is a hard one to answer when I am often seen on the computer at 1 o’clock in the morning doing the night time job – i.e. this one!  I guess the answer lies in what happened last Tuesday with my relatively new group of 12 year olds who have been doing FS once a week since Christmas.  

They tumbled off the minibus exclaiming they wanted to continue making arrows from the week before.  We duly arrived at ‘our’ small birch wood and proceeded to cut some hazel sunshoots.  One of the boys got straight into making as straight an arrow as possible and when it flew from his bow, the satisfied smile said it all.  Then we got into a conversation about badgers, around the fire, and I suggested we go look at a large sett across the field – “what’s the point” touted one “I don’t want to walk over there”.  I hesitated but nevertheless did decide to go and see (despite the protestations).  

Low and behold the youngster who had his doubts, on arrival at said freshly dug sett, took no time in trying out the hole with his shoe, not in a malicious way..a playful one.  His shoe size was much more ‘badger’ than mine!  A passionate conversation ensued about everything we knew about badgers, dogs, wolves, foxes and bears.  This was such a joyous cold but fresh February afternoon.  And that is why I guess I have stuck with this – knowing that there are thousands of learners pushing at their comfort zones and getting caught up in those moments where they are just ‘there’ (and I mean both leaders and students).  Having these deep regular experiences and connecting with what really does support and enrich lives.  

It brought to mind for me all the talk at the moment about mindfulness – much of which is deep wisdom and much of which I do have my doubts about – masquerading as mindfulness.  So I decided to write an article on this and it’s place at FS (on the website soon).  I think this is something worth debating within the FS community and to explore at the conference with its obvious links to resilience and ‘thinking, being and doing’.

Being a chair obviously has a burden of responsibility and being the first chair I often question whether I made the right decision, am I up to it? and are we really modelling the FS philosophy in the ways the FSA operates?  By no means are we there yet and it has been an uphill battle sometimes and a fulfilling journey at others - trying to get ownership within the FS community.  It is so much easier in the woods with a group of learners!  So I guess my main way of trying to do this is to keep communication going with as many in the FS community and external agencies as possible – those of you who know me will often probably get exasperated with the long phone calls!  

Representing the FSA at various national forums can be daunting and also a great privilege.  Chairing is often seen as a leadership role and that is where I have most of my own ‘monkeys to face’ as I feel this is not a natural role for me and my thoughts on flattened hierarchies, collaborative, more egalitarian and, dare I say it, co-constructed organisations do go against the ‘leadership’ grain.  Some people get very impatient that the FSA is slow moving and some get uppity about the FSA taking stances on subjects.  We have to take all this on and still try to steer that line trying to support practitioners deliver quality FS, represent, advocate for FS, respond to the growing number of enquiries about FS while being mindful of an inclusive process.  

I do hope, now we have all the legal stuff sorted, and are starting to produce more guidance for members, working on the FSA wiki, supporting local groups, providing a ‘voice’ and starting to work on a trainers QA we are moving in the right direction.

So, as stated by Sara in the last bulletin, please do keep communicating and dialoguing, and hold on to those mindful and joyous connecting moments in the woods with all those you share FS with.   
Enjoy the moving into Spring – Jon.

Jon Cree
Jon Cree (Chair)


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Perspectives

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 gareth@forestschoolassociation.org 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

Call for Workshop Leaders:
We are now looking for inspiring workshop leaders to deliver 2 hour workshop sessions at the FSA National Conference this Autumn. The conference runs from Friday 23 Oct until Sunday 25 Oct, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. We are looking for a variety of workshops that span the breadth of interests held by Forest School practitioners. The conference is hoping to look at the broad themes of 'thinking', creativity and resilience.

Workshop leaders are given a free place (including accommodation and all meals) for the whole conference. If you are interested in running a workshop, please e-mail your proposed focus (short blurb about the workshop) to Alice Savery (alice.savery@shropshire.gov.uk) with a short biography.

Conference fees for members are expected to be at very similar levels to last year. To be confirmed but something like:
 
Booking preference FSA Member Non FSA Member Student OR Unwaged FSA Member
(Places Limited)
Student OR Unwaged Non FSA Member
(Places Limited)
Conference with accommodation in Condover Hall dorm (Fri+Sat) with all meals provided £175 £215 £145 £185
Conference with accommodation in Condover Hall twin teacher room (Fri+Sat) with all meals provided £190 £230    
         
Saturday conference only with lunch and supper £80 £110 £65 £95

Unfortunately, there is no provision for camping on site this year. 

The 2015 national conference will be held over the weekend of  23rd to 25th October at Condover Hall just outside Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY5 7AU. Please put the date in your diaries. More information to follow. 

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Other News

  • Angels Welly Beat Challenge - Article by Jenny Sanderson, leader at Badgers Forest School Bristol and FSA Member
  • Solar eclipse - For those who will be outside on Friday morning and want to experience the solar eclipse, BBC Stargazing Live has a very useful pack of information including how to make a solar viewer from a cereal box
  • A good companion for fs leaders - A comprehensive global guide, with many UK species, to understory woodland food species planting suggestions. Link 
  • Sylva will also be launching their oneoak project to the wider world in September this year.
  • Latest report from Natural England, DEFRA, English heritage and Kings College London on children's visits to the natural environment.  Interesting reading for FS leaders – members of same household seen as key group influencing frequency of visits to the natural environment accounting for 76% of visits, schools accounting for 10% of visits – what implications does this have for Forest School – discuss!  More 
    In addition to this, the associated east London report will be useful for organisations and individuals working to increase access to, and use of, local natural environments as a way to improve outcomes for both people and nature in urban situations. More 
  • In the run up to the election the rspb and wildlife trusts have joined forces calling for a nature and well being act. This chimes with FS principles.  If interested and you wish to lobby all your local candidates please see here for further details
  • Ticks - be aware!
  • Empty Classroom Day 2015 is on Friday 19th June. The goal is to have empty classrooms all over the globe, with pupils learning outside. Any school can participate, just pledge to spend at least one lesson/session outside on the day so you could be celebrating your Forest School provision on this day and make sure your FS coincides with this day – a day to feel that solidarity with the rest of the world engaged in outdoor learning! More information 
  • Forest School is just one of the ways of supporting more sustainable schools – this year's national Sustainable Schools Conference is being held at University of Bristol on July 2nd – a chance to network, workshop, look at where the sustainability supports curriculum, inspiring speakers.  A good opportunity to see how Forest School fits with the wider school sustainability and environmental agenda.  More information 
  • My Forest – a brand new online management planning tool for Forest School leaders to use for monitoring their ecological impact and managing their site will be launched by Sylva on March 21st at the Oxfordshire Forest School conference.  See the Sylva website for details of My Forest.  For the Oxfordshire Forest School conference see here
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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. 
  • Building a Wiki or knowledge base into the website so that members can easily contribute, share, and find useful Forest School related information. 
  • 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
    • Robert Locke - (Company Secretary) 
    • (Treasurer) - investigating co-opting someone for this important role
    • Sara Collins - Social Media & engaging members
    • Louise Ambrose - Local Groups, guidance notes, conference
    • 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 gareth@forestschoolassocaition.org. 

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Funding Opportunities


Education Endowment Fund Grant

This new grant from the education endowment fund (a DofE fund) is applicable to many Forest Schools looking at building resilience and 'character'.

This could be quite a large undertaking but well worth looking at - the deadline is April 1st
More information  

Trees for Schools Fund 2015 is now Open

Grants for schools from the Tree Council under the Trees for Schools fund 2015 is now Open. This grant is open to all schools within the United Kingdom with pupils aged 16 or under.

For ideas to inspire children to plant trees in their schools and celebrate this experience creatively as part of their curriculum, see the Tree Council's Tree Ties CD  see here for details.

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 gareth@forestschoolassociation.org.

1. MEMBER DISCOUNTS

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 office@birnbeck.com 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 enquiries@forestschoolassociation.org (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
    Email: enquiries@forestschoolassociation.org
  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
    Email: gareth@forestschoolassociation.org
  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 90 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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