We were asked this week by a management team why they should send their practitioners to us for forest school training?
Whilst our standard answer is always, and this time was, “How and why are you here today asking me that question”; ( the thinking is that there is a basic reason why anyone chooses to initially engage with us, and hopefully a positive one), it did get us thinking broader about why should people choose us?
This thought was set against some television coverage of the In-Out debate on Europe (we choose remain incidentally), and naturally our recent visit to Sweden for training and a study visit where the question of in or out was asked of us ‘Brits’ by our friends from Sweden and Germany.
The question of why train with us and remaining in Europe are not mutually exclusive…let us explain.
Forest School training, whilst the most visible and ‘mainstream’ form of outdoor based training that we deliver; it is also the most “tokensitic” by way of reputation and sustained implementation. To try and ensure that our training remains true to the the principles of where the pedagogy came from, so that it can embed and achieve the unique Forest School benefits, we have always sought to influence the training with our knowledge and learning discovered from travelling the world (Europe in the main).
We have been fortunate to have visited Sweden twice, Denmark, Latvia since 2011 as well as Japan and the USA. Whilst they are great trips, the purpose was to learn from individuals and settings with greater expertise and experience in providing child-led and experiential activities with successful wellbeing and educational outcomes. It is these experiences and knowledge sharing that we bleed into our Forest School training and other delivery activities to ensure that the learner is gaining the latest and best methods of learning, in order to achieve the best outcomes for their children when practicing.
We will continue to travel and provide opportunities for our staff to return to Scandinavia, continental Europe, Scotland and England to develop best practice.
Like everything education related it is important to have the latest information and evidence at your disposal as well an appreciation of the relevance to the learner (In Wales for example the forthcoming curriculum overhaul is important). So access to Europe and our partners is key to ensuring that we can have a positive impact on our learners here in the UK. Without the spirit of collaboration and logistical ease that the current arrangements provide, we wouldn’t be able to offer what we consider is the most rounded, relevant and innovative Forest School training in the UK and for that matter the forthcoming first Nature Kindergarten in Wales or Swedish Early Years based provision Skogsmulle which 17 practitioners from across the UK just trained in.
So when we are asked why train in Forest School with us? We might just say because we are European.