New national standards for forest school trainers

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The first set of nationally recognised professional standards for forest school trainers have been developed to improve the quality and consistency of training.

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The Quality Assurance scheme gives forest school trainers FSA endorsement

They have been put together by the Forest School Association (FSA), a body that sets professional standards, in response to concerns about the 'variable quality' of some forest school training.

Through the Quality Assurance scheme, the FSA endorses that trainers are providing quality forest school training in line with the six core forest school principles and that they are following a quality training process.

It is anticipated that local authority advisors and Ofsted will use the scheme as a way of signposting that provision meets national standards.

In order to complete the Quality Assurance scheme, trainers have to pass three stages. The first stage is paper-based, and on completion, trainers are eligible to become an FSA Trainer member, which means they are included on the Association’s online map and database of recognised and endorsed FS Trainers. They then have up to two years to complete stages two and three, which involves interviews of their trainees and a panel interview with assessors.

To continue to be FSA-endorsed, trainers must submit evidence as part of an annual declaration to prove they are developing and maintaining professional standards. FSA Trainer members are also required to attend at least one annual meeting every two years.

Sarah Lawfull, an FSA-endorsed forest school trainer from Oxfordshire, who took part in the pilot of the Quality Assurance scheme last year, said, ‘I have relished being part of the pilot which has helped me identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in my own practice. I have gained confidence and been supported through the whole process by the FSA, ensuring I have everything in place to be able to offer high-quality training. Endorsed status has already enhanced my reputation with headteachers, giving potential partners and clients confidence in the quality of training I am offering.’

Gareth Wyn Davies, chief executive of the Forest School Association, said, ‘People in the sector have been crying out for some professional standards relating to trainers for years now, and we are thrilled to be at the point where we are launching this rigorous scheme. This scheme will enable people looking to train as a forest school leader to select their trainer with confidence.’

The cost of the Quality Assurance scheme is £400, plus £150 a year for FSA membership – necessary for FSA endorsement.

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