4.2 – Summarise own personal development and learning during the Forest School training process and explain how this may inform own wider practice

I’ve spent around 15 years now working in education. I’ve worked in a variety of settings including teaching in  mainstream classrooms, as a SENCo in a mainstream school, teaching in a special school for children with emotional and behavioural ‘difficulties’, working in a private provision for children with an autism spectrum condition and running an alternative provision for children at risk of exclusion or on fixed term exclusions.

The whole time I’ve been looking for the place I fit in but I’ve yet to find it. In all of those settings and roles though I’ve regularly found that what I’m being paid to do compromises my personal morals and beliefs. All of the roles have too often left me feeling uncomfortable (I would never ask another human being if I could go to the toilet or have a drink), frustrated (have you ever tried getting money from local authority assessment teams to support children with SEN?) or like what I was doing with the children was pointless (I agree whole heartedly with all those year 10 students who have proclaimed “what use have I got to learn about databases?”).

In forest school I feel like I’ve finally found an ethos and approach that matches and that I whole heartedly believe in. I unschool my own children and the forest school ethos is such a parallel to the way we choose to parent our own children. It’s been so refreshing to work with and learn from other practitioners who share similar principles and beliefs. It’s really inspired me to stop the perpetual job hunting and find a way out of the education system and set up on my own.

The financial constraints of a newly acquired mortgage are limiting how quickly I can exit mainstream education but I am managing to slowly build regular forest school delivery into my weeks. At the moment this is outside of my main work and with children outside of the education system. There’s scope though for me to possibly shoehorn some forest school delivery into my workplace in the not too distant future.

I’ve also still got the narrow boat we spent the last 10 years living on and am looking into re-fitting that as a floating classroom/workshop space for delivery of activities that whilst not strictly forest school would definitely be in-line with the principles of forest school.

I’m not entirely sure where I’ll end up or exactly what I’ll end up doing. I feel like the forest school leadership course has refocussed me and pointed me in a really positive direction though. I’m at the beginning of a journey that I’m sure is going to be really enjoyable but also constantly surprising and challenging me. I’m thoroughly looking forward to every step of it.