One of the first professionally endorsed Forest School trainers in the country

Dawn Preston is celebrating her success at becoming only the 13th person in the UK to be endorsed by the Forest School Association as meeting the newly agreed professional standards for Forest School Training.

‘Undergoing my own Forest School Leader training was life changing for me, so to be part of such a group of well-respected trainers is really humbling but also exciting!  The Trust and I are passionate about good quality Forest School being available to all, right across the two counties, and delivering Forest School training is one way we achieve this.  The value of the FSA’s Trainer’s Quality Assurance Scheme is the rigorous benchmarks set at each stage, which then provides a consistent quality of training across the country.  As an Endorsed Trainer, our prospective trainees will know that they will be receiving thorough, supportive and good value training that is delivered in line with the six core principles of Forest School.  Reflective practice is one of these core principles and the Endorsed Trainer scheme has provided me many opportunities to continue reviewing, updating and developing our training offer to be the best it can for our trainees.   

I love my job as a Forest School practitioner and trainer and supporting others to grow and develop into Forest School Assistants and Leaders who can also say ‘I love my job’ too is joyful and hugely rewarding.’ 

Dawn Preston – Education Officer, Hampshire & IOW Wildlife Trust 

Forest School is a specialised learning approach based in a woodland or natural environment with trees. It offers all participants regular opportunities to develop self-confidence and esteem through hands-on learning experiences. Its roots reach back to early years pioneers in outdoor learning in Scandinavia, where Forest School has been established since the 1980’s. 

In January 2018, the Forest School Association (FSA) - the UK’s professional body and voice for all things Forest School - launched a new quality assurance scheme for Forest School Trainers.  The FSA Trainer’s Quality Assurance Scheme is based on a new set of ‘Forest School community’ agreed professional standards.  Successful applicants such as Dawn Preston are added to a publicly accessible map on the FSA’s website http://www.forestschoolassociation.org/find-a-forest-school-trainer/  

Dawn Preston Training 10

This is an important development for individuals, schools and settings that are trying to identify a trainer to help them or their staff become Forest School qualified. Decision makers such as Local Authorities and Academies can have confidence that an FSA endorsed trainer is operating professionally and works to ‘Forest School community’ agreed professional standards.  

The FSA Trainers Quality Assurance Scheme offers the reassurance that trainers  

  • are working in accordance with good Forest School practice.
  • give adequate face-to-face time to develop a student’s practical skills.
  • lead courses with the Forest School ethos in mind.
  • provide students with a thorough support package.  
  • have the relevant qualifications, first aid training and insurance in place.
  • model excellent practice themselves. 

Gareth Wyn Davies (CEO of the Forest School Association) says, “FSA endorsement of Forest School Trainers helps the public and decision makers to quickly identify those Trainers who are following good Forest School practice. It allows good training providers to distinguish themselves from other providers who may be offering many less hours of face-to-face tuition, less rigorous assessment and less ongoing support. We therefore congratulate Dawn Preston on their success in becoming an FSA Endorsed Forest School Trainer.”