February 2015 bulletin from the FSA 
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Dear FSA Members,
 
Welcome to the new slimline FSA bulletin, which we aim to get it out monthly. In response to member feedback, we're going for shorter, more focused and regular updates on FSA activity, opportunities and new resources at board, regional and member level, alongside other FS relevant news.
 
Gareth Davies (FSA Chief Executive) 

 

Please click through links below

FSA News: What's new in the FSA
FSA Planned Activity: What we are planning to do next
Monthly Director's Update: Sara Collins (new FSA director), 'The silent majority' 
Perspectives: a member's point of view  
Local GroupsUpdates on local groups being set up and activities within those groups
Events: There are currently 5 events listed on the FSA website
Jobs: There are currently 15 jobs listed on the FSA website
National Conference Update: This years conference
Other NewsNational and Regional news
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

 
  • 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.
 
  • The FSA twitter account has changed its name from @FSAssociation to @FSAForestSchool. You don't need to do anything if you are already following (click through link at top of page to follow). 
  • It has been suggested that the FSA bulletin should have a name. You can tell us your suggestions on the FSA website chat forum (login first folks because it is members only).
  • We have also added a dedicated forum area for communicating with the FSA directors (Ask the Directors). We want to engage with members and be as transparent as possible. This is the place to raise issues with the directors in a fairly public way (so that other members can participate in the discussion). In addition, each month an FSA director will have a slot in the bulletin to explain what they have been doing lately. 
  • The FSA has produced guidance notes on 'Health and Safety', and 'The Forest School Handbook'. They can be found in the library in the members only section of the website here (remember to login first). Please let us know which guidance notes you think the FSA should produce next - and why - on the forum
  • Forest Kindergartens in Korea – two associations meet Full story
  • UK Awarding Bodies offering Forest School qualifications. The FSA has released a policy statement and supporting guidance notes, for both Awarding Bodies and Forest School Trainers, regarding UK Awarding Bodies offering Forest School qualifications. More information
  • The 2014 national Forest School conference, held at Danbury Centre for Outdoor Learning Fri 26 to Sun 28th September 2014 was very successful, principally because of all the hard work put in by FSA Essex on behalf of National FSA. Some outputs from this weekend can be viewed in the website library here (members only). 
 
  • The FSA has, this week, negotiated a 43% discount for members on Rukka rainwear.

    A voucher code can be used on the rukkarainwear.com website or else telephone/email your enquiry quoting the voucher code (this may be easier if you or your school wish to be invoiced).

    The voucher discount of 43% will apply to both adults and children's raincoats, dungarees and rain hats.
 
  • The directors would like to thank Jane Acton and Mike Murphy for their time and commitment as FSA directors. Both have recently had to step down from the role because of other work commitments. Mike gamely stepped into the treasurer role on the day he was elected (national conference 2013, Derwent Hill). Jane made sure that planned FSA activities were a good fit to the strategic aims of the organisation. This brings the number of directors down from 12 to 10. However, we are still 2 up from the 8 we had before the last election in October 2014. I imagine that directors will want to give the new directors a chance to get in their stride before considering another election ... but it will probably happen sometime this year.     

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 - more below. 
  • 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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Monthly Director's Update

I first started to volunteer as a social media contributor for the FSA as part of my accreditation process to achieve an APIOL (Accredited Practitioner with the Institute of Outdoor Learning).  I enjoyed the challenge but I also enjoyed having contact with ‘like-minded people’.  I am self-employed and visit schools every week, but this isn't the same as talking to other Forest School professionals.  So when the opportunity of standing as a director of the FSA came about I felt it was an obvious choice to formalize my contribution to the industry. 
I think that it is a very exciting time in the development of the FSA.  I have attended three board meetings (via Skype) and have been impressed with the commitment of the directors (who are all volunteers let’s remember) to a transparent and a quality service.  In the last few months I have been part of discussions to improve communications with the membership. Because the vote for new directors was low (9%) I wanted to understand why this might be.  That’s the reason I sent out a survey asking for information as to how we contact the membership and how we might improve the process of membership engagement. 75 out of 1000 members completed the survey (7.5%). Good for a large faceless organisation but perhaps not great for a membership led organisation. Lessons for us to learn?   
I promise to work at the FSA communication processes and content.  Please invest in your membership fee by contributing to the direction of the organisation when given the opportunity. To those who do already comment, please don’t stop. Your creative, and sometimes witty, responses are appreciated. 

Sara Collins (FSA Director)


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Perspectives

Each month a member will have an opportunity to raise a Forest School topic 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. 

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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

In October of last year the FSA won an Awards for All grant, from the Big Lottery Fund, to cover time to support local groups being established. Since then the following groups have formally affiliated. 




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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National Conference Update

The 2014 national FS conference was a great success. There were many lessons that we learned from it, which should inform future conferences. We recognise that a delay in providing a conference date and venue may have made things difficult for members as diaries start to fill up early. Unfortunately, that magic recipe that worked so well last year has proven very difficult to duplicate. Ideally we would have another local group deliver the conference for us but none are yet as well established as Essex were when they took on the task in 2014. 

Having said that, we think we have cracked it and are pleased to announce that 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

  • 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 
  • An excellent film from Sir David Attenborough and LTL advocating the protection of school grounds from building and providing more space for outdoor learning was produced at the end of 2014. See film on YouTube  
  • The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is a UK-wide citizen science initiative that allows you to get hands-on with nature, whatever your age, background or level of ability.  This is an excellent way of Forest Schoolers to monitor the biodiveristy of their site and contribute to a national scientific project.  With tree health becoming an increasingly problematic issue OPAL's tree health project, in particular, is the type of experience Forest School leaders and learners alike can benefit from and help monitor and protect our tree population.  Please see the updated OPAL website. There are also some excellent resources for your biodiversity findings on your Forest School site.
  • Interesting new report and research published on January 29th on children's visits to the natural environment from DEFRA, Natural England, English heritage and Kings College London showing, in particular the impact of parental attitudes and cultural backgrounds, on visits. More information  
  • It is nearly two years since the Forestry Commission launched it's new learning strategy and there are many opportunities for educators to access the public forest estate.  Do  get in touch with one of the FC learning teams if you wish to see if there is a forest/woodland that you could access for your Forest School. More information.  see   There are also new resources on the FC website here
  • A recently launched Key Stage 2 resource Forests for the Future, provides a comprehensive resource for teachers working with woodlands and forests, focussing on the many aspects of woodlands, in particular climate change.  It  provides a good follow through for Forest School learners to study their woodlands in more depth back in the classroom and relate Forest School experiences to the curriculum. More information 
  • For those of you involved with both FSA and the Forest Education Network (FEN) please see the latest FEN bulletin
  • 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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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)
  • 40% discount on Mum2Mum rainwear 
  • 43% discount on Rukka rainwear 
  • £25 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. 

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