May Newsletter

Welcome to Birchwood Learning’s E-Newsletter – sorry that there has been a delay in News from us, there is much to update you on in the world of Forest School and Outdoor Learning! We hope you have been enjoying the joys of spring and have been out jumping in puddles, watching buds burst and breathing [...]

Welcome to Birchwood Learning’s E-Newsletter – sorry that there has been a delay in News from us, there is much to update you on in the world of Forest School and Outdoor Learning! We hope you have been enjoying the joys of spring and have been out jumping in puddles, watching buds burst and breathing in the scents of wildflowers.

Website update – Seasonal Stories
Spring-time facts, folklore and stories are now uploaded to our website. Take a look here.

New Modular Format to Forest School Training
The Forest School Training Company (our parent training organisation) has developed a new modular format approach to Forest School Training. This format is unique to FSTC, and we feel a more flexible and achievable way for students to undertake the training. The training is now split into modules of two days, about once a month with coursework to complete in-between, breaking workload into achievable chunks. This new format also allows prior learning to be accredited and hence allows students to ‘top up’ their qualification, without having to start from scratch.

We are happy to announce that we will be running a modular format Level 3 Forest School Practitioner course in Norwich starting in October 2012. Please view information on FSTC’s website here.

Last few places left on Level 1 – Introduction to Forest School
17th & 18th May 2012 at Holt Hall.

Assessing for Danger! Outdoor First Aid for Forest School
Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th May 2012 at Catton Park, Norwich

I’m pleased to let you know that Andy Forsyth will be in Norfolk running his fantastic 2 day First Aid for Forest School ITC training course. This 16 hour course covers essential first aid in the outdoors for 1 years to adults (please note that it does not cover infants) and is designed specifically for Forest School Leaders. It would also be very relevant for others working with groups in the outdoors such as field studies teachers, bushcraft instructors, teachers leading offsite visits etc.

Norfolk FS Leaders Network – ‘Field Trip’ to Bishops Wood Centre, Worcestershire
The Norfolk Network of Forest School Leaders are planning a weekend ‘field trip’ to Worcestershire to see the international renown outdoor learning centre ‘Bishops Wood’ (Worcestershire County Council). Bishops Wood is a hub for all sorts of outdoor learning and training; Forest School, Earth Education, Muir Trek/John Muir Awards, green woodworking, storytelling, sustainable construction and amongst other things runs a very successful programme for 14-19 years. The weekend planned is Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July 2012. We shall be spending and afternoon exploring the centre with Jon Cree – lead trainer for the centre and then relax with an evening of campfire cooking, craft and sleeping out under the stars! Although this has been arranged primarily with Forest School Leaders in mind, the centre is well worth a look for those with a general interest in outdoor learning so open to all. If you are interested in coming with us please contact us for more information.

A New UK Organisation for Forest School!
This summer, on Saturday 7th July 2012, a new national organisation for Forest School will be created. All of the Forest School community are encouraged to join the consultation and establishment of this significant event. The launch will be at Elveston Country Park near Derby (10mins taxi from train station). A consultation will be sent out soon about the name of the organisation and its strategic steering group structure via email and surveymonkey link and a flyer and booking form for the event will be available shortly.

The launch will incorporate an Inaugural General Meeting to establish the organisation, approve the constitution and elect members of the strategic group. Information on how to stand for election will be available soon. Attendees will be able to join the new organisation and thereby vote at the IGM. The day will also offer attendees a choice of workshops for their continuous professional development.

Minutes of meetings about the organisations developments are posted on the Institute for Outdoor Learning website here. Thank you to all the Forest School community who have supported and given time to this process.

The National Trust and Nature Deficit
“Evidence of a long-term and dramatic decline in children’s relationship with the outdoors is ‘overwhelming’ and urgent action is needed to bridge this growing gap before it’s too late.”

The National Trust have release a report about Nature Deficit Disorder and the need to combat it. ‘Natural Childhood’ can be viewed online via the National Trusts website. A two-month inquiry, facilitated by the National Trust, will take evidence from leading experts and the public to look at how we can reconnect this and future generations of children with the natural world.

Let them know about Forest School!?! If you have a spare 5 minutes why not visit their website and send them an email or web comment about how Forest School can help combat nature deficit?!

Forest School Research Request
The Outdoor and Experiential Learning Research Network (OELRESNET) at the School of Education, University of Plymouth, would like to gather research data (resulting from qualitative or quantitative studies) on all aspects of Forest School from across the UK. The reason for this request is to enable a comparison of Forest School pedagogical principles with those that underpin udeskole in Denmark. We would of course acknowledge sources and be very happy to send contributors a copy of the resultant paper. Individuals or groups willing to make raw data or written papers on Forest School in the UK available for inclusion in this article should feel free to contact Dr Oduntan Jawoniyi through his email address: for further information.

Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods Project
To celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s historic 2012 Diamond Jubilee The Woodland Trust want millions of people across the UK to come together and plant 6 million trees, creating hundreds of Jubilee Woods and 60 exclusive Diamond Woods this year. Perhaps your Forest School programmes could be involved in your local community projects?

FEI England Update – Now FEN!
From the 1st April 2012, The Forest Education Network (FEN), will be developed and run by the partnership of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) and Fiona Groves, the Natural Route. This will help raise the importance and contribution of forest education to the wider approach to outdoor learning, and allows forest educators to benefit from the progress already made in establishing support mechanisms for learning outside the classroom.
(Information from
We’re sure that the whole UK Forest School community would like to thank the Forestry Commission and the England, Scotland and Wales FEI Coordinators for all their work and support over the years. The national network of cluster groups, funding opportunities, training opportunities, development of the QUIF and the new national body have been crucial for the development of Forest School and Outdoor Learning over the UK.

North Norfolk Environment Awards
Entries are now invited for any projects which have resulted in an improvement to the natural environment in the district, or protection of the local and global environment; each with a chance of winning the £500 first prize and plaque recognizing their achievements. For more information please see their website here.

Let’s Go Outside – Working with the revised EYFS in the outside classroom
Delivered by Janette Smith and Helen Bromley this one day course is aimed at all practitioners and teachers (including mixed age class teachers) who will be required to deliver the revised Early Years Foundation Stage from September 2012. Venue is Catton Park, Norwich. Dates:

  • Thursday 31st May
  • Monday 2nd July

Contact Janette for further info:

Don’t forget to check for forthcoming Forest School and nature based outdoor learning training.