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More people have been trained to use woodlands as a teaching aid for children and young people as the concept of Forest School in Wales approaches its tenth birthday.
Members of the Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning (WfL) team trained 18 people from around south and mid Wales who wanted to acquire the skills that will enable them to bring a whole new dimension to the learning and development of children and young people.
The Forest School Leaders course took place last week at Rockwool Woodlands for Learning Centre in Pencoed, near Bridgend, and its woodlands.
The trainees, comprising teachers and others who work with children and young people, learned that Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland environment.
They also acquired practical woodland skills - such as teaching children to use tools to make items like spoons and fire-lighting - which can be adapted to their classwork back in school. They even got to grips with some outdoor cooking!
The FC Wales WfL team offers several Forest School Leader courses every year and has trained some 50 leaders every year for the past three years as this outdoor learning concept gains in popularity.
The WfL team also supports other trainers in Wales through its partnership with Agored Cymru, the accreditation body for Forest School in Wales, and the Wales Forest School Training Network. Last week's training course was the first to be run under the new Agored Cymru Forest School units.
The WfL team's Karen Clarke, who led the training along with her colleagues Sheena O’Leary and Cathy Velmans, said, "I get a real buzz out of teaching and supporting others to become Forest School leaders.
"Each of these practitioners will provide many woodland-based learning experiences for children. In turn, these hands-on activities in local woodland settings will engage and promote respect and appreciation for the natural environment.
"With the right skills, our woodlands can be a stimulating environment and every leader we train allows more children and young people to benefit from this type of learning."
The next Forest School course run by the WfL team is being held in woodlands and venues around Capel Curig near Conwy, north Wales, starting on May 10 and another is planned for the new FC Wales visitor centre in Garwnant, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales, starting on March 7, 2011. Places are still available and for more information go to www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry//INFD-7Y4LP6
Forest School leader training lasts for a total of eight days, with additional self-led portfolio work spread over about nine months. As part of the course, each trainee is assessed while they run a programme of six Forest School sessions with the children they work with.
A two-day celebration event to mark the tenth anniversary of Forest School in Wales is being planned for October.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages the 126,000 hectares/311,000 acres of woodlands owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Forestry Commission Wales Woodlands for Learning team delivers woodland-based learning experiences throughout Wales, supports the development and delivery of Forest School and facilitates the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) on behalf of its partners - FSC, Woodland Trust, Groundwork, Tree Council, TTF, ConFor and BTCV. www.forestry.gov.uk/learning
For more information on woodlands for learning, contact the Woodlands for Learning team on 0300 068 0300 and ask for Carol Travers.
Media enquiries to Forestry Commission Wales Information Officer Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922.