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

Hmm, June and July editions going out together in, er, August. Unforeseeable circumstances have turned this one into a bit of a summer edition I'm afraid. We aim to get out 10 editions a year and the next will be at the end of August. Best wishes,
Gareth Davies (CEO)
Please click through links below


FSA News: What's new in the FSA
Monthly Director's Update: Lily Horseman (FSA Director and company secretary) 
Events: There are currently 8 events listed on the FSA website
Jobs: There are 3 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

  • 2015 elections - Every year 1/3 (or closest whole number) of the longest serving FSA directors must stand down at the AGM. As we presently have 10 directors this means that 3 must stand down. Aline Hill and Adrian Goodhand have said that they intend to stand down and not restand. The final director to stand down was selected by pulling a name out of a hat. Louise Ambrose (acting deputy chair) got the 'winning ticket' and will also stand down. However, Louise wishes to continue serving as a director and so will re-stand in the upcoming election. With the 2 current vacant director positions we will be seeking to fill a total of 5 director positions in the upcoming election, which will end on the last day of the conference 25th October. Further information about the election process and the requirements for FSA directors will be emailed out to members separately this week. 
  • National Forest School conference - 72 people already booked onto this year's national Forest School conference. There are over two and a half months left to go but some of the workshops are almost fully booked - only a couple of places left on the 'Quest for a Child Led Session'. We are expecting about 250 attendees but best to book early to avoid disappointment. There seems to be loads of interest this year. Given the lineup I'm not surprised ... can't wait. 
  • The Forest School WIKI is getting lots of views and members seem to value the content that is being uploaded. However, only a small number of members are actually contributing content. I can't emphasise enough that EVERYONE has something valuable to add, no matter small. Even if you only ever add one thing, and if everyone does the same, we will have the start of an amazing resource for future generations of practitioners. 
  • ICT First and LASER Awards now supported by the FSA - ICT First and LASER Awards bring the total number of Awarding Bodies supported by the FSA to seven. This leaves only two awarding bodies who have not yet agreed to the FSA's requirements for support. More
  • The date for the next FSA South West gathering  has now been set for the weekend of the 3/4th October. The venue is  Ditcheat Farm, Nr Shepton Mallet- A lovely wooded valley in the heart of Somerset (Booking details should appear on the FSASW group page or FSA events page soon).
  • Latest subject pages in the Forest School WIKI (log into the website to view)
    • Uk scouts offer some celebrity chef campfire recipes here
    • eartheasy campfire advice and recipes can be found here
    • How to make a Bowsaw for the price of a blade and cover
    • Whittling projects
    • Climbing trees (and rocks)
    • Compound flexibility
    • Mud
  • Latest forum topics (members must be logged into the website)
    • Woodland games
    • Historical use and management in north east essex???
    • Forest School training
    • Board meeting minutes

Monthly Director's Update

Look after yourself, Look after the woods, Look after each other.

I'm sure many Forest School practitioners use a similar structure to introduce the ground rules to the children you work with. I find these to be a handy trio of rules around which all other agreements and requests can be structured. Today these agreements all came out in my conversations ; Look after yourself; " I wonder if there is a better way down to the stream where there are not so many nettles?" Look after each other; "I know you both want to build a swing here, can we do that at the same time? How will we do that?" Look after the woods; This branch is not strong, we need to find a better branch. I'd feel unhappy if we damaged this tree when we climb it". None of the conversations I had contradicted these 3 basic rules, they supported them and deepened them. 

As I drove home I was reflecting on this. How does this work for the FSA? For the wider Forest School community? How do we make sure we look after ourselves? How do we make sure we have time and space to develop our own skills and continue to be nourished by the work we do rather than drained by it? How do we look after each other? Especially in what can feel at times like a competitive market. How do we hold that balance between connection with nature, using the resources it offers and respecting the lives that are lived there all the time? How do we grow an understanding of this balance for the people we work with? 

Sometimes the conversations with the children were trying to untangle conflicting ways to meet these agreements. Looking after yourself is all well and good but that can put you into conflict with someone else who is trying to look after themselves. Unless you try and look after each other at the same time then things will inevitably break down. Holding all three of these 'look afters' to be as important as each other, all of the time is certainly something that we do not manage as a wider society and culture, so is it realistic to expect children to manage it? Cultures will only change if the next generation can make a huge attitude shift. 

I have often said that the Forest School Association needs its members more than the members need the Forest School Association. I still feel this is true at this stage in the growth and development of the FSA.  When I try and quantify why I give my time freely to be a director of the Forest School Association, when I think about the collaborative efforts of the directors and the members who actively support each other and the wider Forest School community we are trying to embody those three ideas. We are trying to make a small shift. 

Lily Horseman 
(Director and Company Secretary) 

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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 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

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

  • Giant Hogweed is particularly prevalent this year. If you have seen the various media reports then you will know just how dangerous and damaging it can be. If you have not already done so you may want to learn how to identify it with confidence Giant Hogweed identification  so that you can build it into your risk/benefit analysis. 
  • The New Common Inspection Framework from OFSTED was launched and will be implemented this September. More
  • The forest school revolution: leaves, logs and life skills .. the guardian - the guardian published this article on 21st april 2015. We missed it at the time but it is great publicity for Forest School and both the FSA and some of our members get a mention. Unfortunately, it does repeat the inaccuracy that the FSA puts people through Forest School training. We don't, although of course most Forest School trainers are members of the FSA. Article 
  • Funding for wildlife school grounds projects that could well help FS with wildlife management - Applications are now OPEN for primary and secondary schools for a Learning through landscapes grant. To take part and apply for support, as part of the Polli:Nation project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. For more information about the project please visit http://www.ltl.org.uk/pollination

    To begin your application please follow this link 
  • Mindfulness and Forest School 
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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. 
  • 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 gareth@forestschoolassocaition.org. 

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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 gareth@forestschoolassociation.org.


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 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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