Derbyshire County Council Forest School – Timeline

 

Early 2000s – Staff within Derbyshire County Council aware of ‘Forest School’ as a concept and investigations started.

2004 – Paul Scragg (then a teacher at North Wingfield Infant School) undertook his Forest School Leader Training.  Paul was an Advanced Skills Teacher and part of this role was sharing his experiences and expertise across the county with other settings.  Paul worked with Roger Bilton, then a School Improvement Adviser, to start to share the message and potential school improvement benefits and impacts of the Forest School approach within Derbyshire.

2005 – Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service Manager, then Jane Featherstone, worked with Paul Scragg, Roger Bilton and a wide variety of other partners to put together a Forest School pilot project.  The resultant pilot saw Derbyshire County Council fund Level 3 Forest School Training for staff from schools in the Staveley and Brimington Cluster (Barrow Hill and Poolsbrook Primary School and Holly House Special School) with Archimedes Training.

2005 – The Derbyshire Forest School pilot was evaluated as highly successful by teachers, the council and participants and a ‘Forest School Leader’ for the county was appointed working in the Environmental Studies Service (then Lauren Stevens).  The aim of the Forest School Leader post was to raise awareness about Forest School and the benefits across Derbyshire, support and mentor staff across Derbyshire as they go through their Forest School Training, locate and establish Forest School sites across the county using both Derbyshire Countryside Services land and that belonging to other partner organisations and to seek additional funding for training new Forest School Leaders.

2006 – 2009  Funding was available through Derbyshire Children and Younger Adults Department for Early Years and Foundation Stage to train staff from private nurseries as Level 3 Forest School Leaders as part of the commitment to ‘free flow’ outdoor learning and providing outdoor play and child based learning.  Two Forest School cluster groups were established in the county -an ‘FEI’ (Forest Education Initiative) group for the National Forest and South Derbyshire and a second group for Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Bolsover.  These helped bring together Forest School practitioners, land owners and others in taking initiatives forwards.  Many partnerships developed including with the Wildlife Trusts, National Forest, South Derbyshire Environmental Education Project, National Trust and many more.  Taster days, awareness raising events and joint projects continued throughout this period.  Many Derbyshire staff attended sessions and started their Forest School journey and funded their own training.  This period also saw changes in staff with a new Forest School Leader – Sarah Keogh and a new Environmental Studies Service Manager – Georgina Cass.

2009 – 2012  Derbyshire County Council maintains its commitment to promoting and enabling access to Derbyshire’s young people for Forest School.  Extended Services money was accessed to enable over 40 participants to train as Forest School Leaders working in clusters including family learning and children’s centres with training provided by Warkwickshire Wildlife Trust.  Forest School approaches were used as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Connecting Families’ project lead by Derbyshire Adult and Community Education Service.  The First ‘Derbyshire Forest School Day’ in 2011 was very successful providing a truly county wide opportunity to raise awareness and share ideas, expertise and best practice. This was repeated again in 2012.  In late 2012 a further 8 Derbyshire schools staff started their Forest School Leader training with the Forest School Training Company at Elvaston Country Park. The new Forest School Association also held a launch event at Elvaston Castle, a major milestone in the establishment of Forest School nationally.  Participation continues to grow, at August 2012 Derbyshire have 197 settings involved at some level and pleasingly more schools are making progress on their depth of involvement and commitment to Forest School moving from taster days for adult staff to getting their own staff trained as Forest School Leaders securing the sustainability and access to experiences for young people.

STOP PRESS:  2013:  Derbyshire County Council will fund a further 23 places on Forest School Level 3 Training for staff from schools, nurseries, children’s centres and sites across the County.

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