ICF East England: Forest School and the Power of Outdoor Learning

Mark Pritchard FICFor, ICF East England Regional Group Secretary, attended ICF East England: Annual Dinner and AGM 2018Mark reports on his experience.

Andy Lederer, Sharon Hosegood FICFor and Mark Pritchard FICFor den building at the AGM

The East England Regional Group’s Annual Dinner and AGM was again held at the centrally located Ravenwood Hall Hotel near Bury St Edmunds on 25 January. Chari, Andrew Coombes FICFor introduced our guest speaker, Mell Harrison, Education Manager with the Green Light Trust. Through a very engaging presentation, Mell discussed the history, aims, ethos and approach of Forest School. Six core principles underpin Forest School:

  1. Supporting a long-term process with regular sessions (ideally fortnightly) over an extended period covering all the seasons.
  2. Using a woodland or wooded environment and natural resources for inspiration and to foster and build understanding of and relationships with nature.
  3. Promoting holistic development to encourage resilience, confidence and creativity – at school, at home and at work.
  4. Providing opportunities for learners to take supported risks tailored to their development.
  5. Delivered by qualified practitioners who are required to maintain their competency through CPD.
  6. Creating communities for development and learning.

In a first for the Region, Mell got members actively involved in their own Forest School experience with a spot of practical work involving lashing together sticks to form a variety of structures. Laughter reigned throughout! A copy of Mell’s presentation is available in the members’ area.

At the AGM following an excellent dinner ideas were shared for the next years programme (wood fuel, harvesting damaged timber and tree safety and decay). A programme of events will be published shortly. ICF Development Director wrapped up the meeting by highlighting some notable headlines, including record membership and increased focus and support for ICF regions.

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