Forest school training, how to become a forest school leader
Forest School activities are run through a specific ethos that people are trained in. Those trained in this ethos are called Forest School leaders. Some of these leaders go on to create their own Forest School company to lend their services to schools and other organisations, while others work with or for those companies. Some teachers have been known to gain the Forest school qualifications so that they can implement Forest school teachings in their own workplaces.
There are four levels of Forest School training, and different qualifications you can gain at each level. Anyone wishing to train in these qualifications should ensure that the school or company they’re training with is accredited. Non-accredited courses mean very little in the world of work, and they could contain incorrect learning materials.
Let’s start with Level 1. Level 1 is typically an introduction course for those new to Forest Schools. You may find these courses under names like “Introduction to Forest Schools” or “Award in Outdoor Learning”. Whatever name it has, the material usually covers the types of development that take place at a Forest School activity, while also helping learners develop their own practical skills. Level 1 courses take two days, and the only entry requirement should be that you are at least 16 years old. They will also need access to a Forest School programme that is run by a leader with a level 3 qualification.
Level 2 must have experience working with children, and consequently, they should also have a DBS. These candidates will need to assist another level 3 leader with a few sessions of a Forest School Programme. These are the standard requirements for a Level 2 Forest School Assistant Training qualification.
An alternative Level 2 qualification would be Level 2 as an Outdoor Learning Practitioner. While an Assistant qualification will allow someone to assist a Level 3 leader with their Forest School programme, a Level 2 Outdoor Learning Practitioner will teach you how to start writing your own curriculum and deliver it effectively.
Once a candidate has a Level 2 qualification, several more pathways open up for a Level 3 qualification. There are qualifications at Level 3 in Leading Forest School, being a Coastal School Leader, learning how to Coordinate an Outdoor Curriculum, and more. Most Forest School hopefuls go with a simple Forest School Leader qualification.
Lastly, the Level 4 qualification. This qualification is for Outdoor Learning and being a Forest School Trainer. Level 4 is delivered in several stages, and candidates must have two years of experience delivering an outdoor learning curriculum, as well as a recognised Level 3 qualification in education, training or teaching.
How to start Forest School training
Any Forest School leader hopeful will need to find an accredited company or school to teach them the syllabus for each level qualification. To become a leader, you will need a Level 3 qualification.
Many Forest Schools will be able to advise you on which courses to take to become a leader, but a quick search for a reputable and accredited course is easy to do. The cost for a Level 1 course is around £250. Candidates should take into account the finances required for these courses, as they are not covered by standard educational loans or government student loans.