IFSA Conference & AGM 2019 – Bookings Closed

Dear friends,

Bookings are closed for  the 3rd Annual Conference and AGM of the Irish Forest School Association with the theme ‘Forest School: Rooted in Sustainability’. This will be held on the 25th & 26th of May in Fota Education Centre, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork. We are very excited to host Keynote Speaker Sara Knight who will give an address on the topic of ‘Sustainability: Discovering the world and your strong, positive place in it through immersive experiences’, alongside a vibrant array of workshop speakers, skillshare leaders and panel contributors detailed in the Conference  Programme – 
*** Please Note ***
Sign-up for conference workshops and skillshare sessions will be done in advance this year as part of the online booking system.
Preference is allocated to attendees on a first come first served basis, so we recommend early booking to ensure you can access your first choices. We invite you to choose 2 of the 4 workshops/skillshares offerings via this process. Details of workshops and skillshares are at this link: Final Workshops and Skillshare Outlines – IFSA Conference 2019.

Tenders invited to assist us in a review process

The main objective of the work is to facilitate a review process that will support the Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) committee to draw together an agreed vision and mission statement.

It is envisaged that this process will provide the committee with a supported reflective space to facilitate these practical outcomes as the organisation moves into the next important phase of its development. This will also include a final agreed report including clear agreed decisions and any actions/tasks that emerge.

Timescale, budget and reporting requirements:


August 7th Time: 10.30 – 2.30pm.


Kilkenny County Childcare Committee, Kilkenny Education Centre, Kilkenny.


The successful applicant will need to produce a report to be completed and submitted to the chairperson by 24th Aug. The budget for this will be no more than €300 inclusive of Vat. Experience of facilitating similar processes is required and an affinity with IFSA’s principles would be advantageous.

See the Irish Forest School Association Website:


Proposals by email to Joan Whelan, Chairperson by Fri July 13th. Email: irishforestschoolassociation@gmail.com

Download as a PDF. Irish Forest School Association July 2018

Annual conference and AGM 2018

Annual conference and AGM 2018

21/22 April 2018
Brigit’s Garden, Galway


Booking for our Annual Conference and AGM in Brigit’s Garden Galway is now open at this link.
For those who booked and paid for a place at our cancelled Autumn Gathering, we would ask you to complete a new booking form as well here. Please click the membership option (at a special rate of €30) so that your membership is valid for 2018/19. If we do not receive your new form by 10th March, we will presume that you are not coming along and will release your place to others.

The theme is Storytelling and Forest School and we are delighted to welcome Chris Holland, Lucy O Hagan, Sally O DonnellLaura Kennedy,Whole Land and Wondering Wild and our hosts in Galway, Carol Barrett and Kerry Walker as well as some other familiar faces. A detailed programme will shortly be up on our website.

Bookings are not confirmed until payment is made to the following account:
BIC: BOFIIE2D IBAN – IE10BOFI90671867489058
Account name: Irish Forest School Association
Sort code: Bank of Ireland 90-67-18
NB: Reference your name/membership number (if known) and organisation with your bank transfer. 
Once you have booked and paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further details. Do not hesitate to email membership@irishforestschoolassociation.ie if you have any queries. We look forward to meeting you in April as we continue the Irish Forest School journey.

Learn more

Annual conference and AGM 2018 Update

21/22 April 2018
Brigit’s Garden, Galway


Thanks to all of you who have booked to  come along to our conference on 21/22 April in Brigit’s Garden, Galway – we are now sold out! Please email Mirjam at membership@irishforestschoolassociation.ie if you have any questions.
 Download a  draft programme here
Bookings are not confirmed until payment is made to the following account:
BIC: BOFIIE2D IBAN – IE10BOFI90671867489058
Account name: Irish Forest School Association
Sort code:Bank of Ireland 90-67-18
NB: Reference your name/membership number (if known) and organisation  with your bank transfer. 
We look forward to meeting you in April  as we continue the Irish Forest School journey.


Membership for 2018/19 also falls due in May. We would encourage all members to become part of our Facebook group and to keep an eye on the website and the Facebook page for news!

Learn more

IFSA website Conference 2017 – Conversation Cafe feedback

The feedback from the conversation cafe question ‘What can IFSA do to support you in your forest school journey?’ has thrown out several main themes. These include: Insurance, Land Access, Garda Vetting, Awareness Raising & FS Practitioner Visability, Professionalism, Training, Networking & Practitioner Supports, Website and associated resource development, and Advocacy/Interagency Working.

More details can be found here.




1. Chairperson’s report

2. Financial report

3. Feedback from Conversation Cafe

4. Election of new committee

5. Evaluation and close of meeting

1.Chairperson’s report – Joan

Key points:

Joan opened by noting that the IFSA wanted to be an ethically sound and transparent organisation. Our mission is twofold: For the IFSA to be the ‘go to place’ for both the public and the forest school community in Ireland to learn about Forest School and secondly to promote quality Forest School in Ireland.

The gathering at Sli na Bande was mentioned as 1 year ago, from this meeting, emerged the acorn group and association name. Ciara and Jenny acknowledged and thanked for the steps they made to get the IFSA started. In Castlecomer in October 2016, we agreed to a model of Forest School going forward based on the six principles adopted by the FSA in the UK.

Thanks given to Ranelagh multi-denominational School, The Irish National Heritage Park, Kilkenny City and County Childcare Committee and to Castlecomer Discovery Park for sponsoring our meetings and events this year.

Acknowledgements given to Claire, Majella, Maura, Sally and Veronica for their contribution to the committee over the year. .

The IFSA has had meetings with Brian Poots, NIFSA, Gareth Davies, FSA and Isabell Smyth, The Heritage Council. The Heritage Council have given grant funding to the association. Their support gratefully acknowledged.

Joan has been talking to Kidd insurance and the association hopes to develop a relationship with them and other insurers. Garda vetting was mentioned.

We envisage the structure of the IFSA as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. IFSA has opened a bank account.

Thanks were given to Roisin O Flaherty for her design of logo and her very reasonable costing. Website, social media, facebook were all set up and will be a priority for further development over the next year.

The committee has developed policies on social media and financial practice.

The IFSA will aim to have two main meetings a year, one for CPD sharing in October and the annual open conference in May.

IFSA is developing a relationship with Leave No Trace Ireland.

Joan mentioned our disappointment that The Compass Club closed.

Issues regarding access to public land and county council park is in progress. We look forward to developing our relationship with Coillte, The Tree Council and local authorities and private landowners over the coming years.

Joan has presented to the DCU outdoor learning group and attended the RDS – STEM education conference in November 2016 on behalf of the IFSA.


2. Financial Report – Caroline

€451 starting point for the IFSA bank account. Caroline acknowledged contributions and noted that the balance was €4784: however, conference expenses will be taken out of this. The development of the website and social media platforms will be a substantial cost in the coming year.


3. Feedback from conversation café – Mirjam

Mirjam said that she would be in contact by email regarding feedback from conversation café. Joan thanked Mirjam for all her hard work emailing, administration and organizing for the conference. All agreed.

The committee will be looking at the benefits of IFSA membership, why it is of value and to increase numbers. Feedback on the website was also encouraged.


4. Election of new committee

Committee put themselves forward again and Joan as chairperson was agreed. She asked for 2 more people for committee positions.
Nicola Salmon put her name forward for committee and was seconded by Gretta.
Sally O’Donnell put herself forward for committee and was seconded by Orla.


5. Evaluation

Joan reminding all to fill in evaluation forms and asked that members give any further feedback be email.


6. Close of meeting

IFSA would be looking to the West/ NorthWest for possibility next CPD meeting. Ciara thanked Joan for all her hard work.


Meeting closed at 12.30pm

IFSA Inaugural Conference 2017

We in the IFSA acorn are overwhelmed by the fantastic response to the Inaugural IFSA Conference from you all. We really appreciate your enthusiasm and energy in joining us in this important step in launching the association almost one year from its inception at the Sli na Bande gathering. Thank you to each one of you for being part of the movement so far, and we hope that we will be on this exciting journey together for many years to come.

Particular thanks to our keynote speaker Jon Cree, and workshop leaders Marina Robb, Carol Middleton, Brian Poots and Jenny Dungan. A special mention goes to our amazing hosts The Irish National Heritage Park, and to The Heritage Council for their support in the founding stages of our organisation, in addition to the wonderful support from our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Forest School Association and UK Forest School Association.

A couple of quotes from participants evaluations:

“Brilliant conference, space and pace”

“Thank you for an amazing weekend. Looking forward to the next one already”

“Best conference I have been to in an awfully long time”

“Every single part of it was truly wonderful”

A summary of the conversation cafe, which will help us to take our next steps will shortly be posted.

Have a look in the Gallery for some pics of the weekend.

Inaugural Conference – Roots Grow Down, 20 & 21 May 2017

The Irish Forest School Association’s Inaugural Conference will take place on the 20th and 21st of May.

More information will be found here closer to the time.

If you would like to attend the conference, please complete the booking form.

Dear friends,

I am delighted to let you know that booking is now open for our Inaugural Conference –  The Irish Forest School Association, Roots Grow Down, which takes place in The Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford on 20/21 May 2017. The conference will open at 10 am on Saturday 20th and conclude at 2 pm on Sunday 21st. Click here to make your booking. Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested in attending – all are welcome.

We are delighted that the keynote address on Saturday morning will be given by Jon Cree, a founding father of Forest Schools in the UK and the outgoing Chairperson of the Forest School Association. Jon will also present a workshop at the conference. We are also pleased to have workshops and presentations from Marina Robb (Circle of Life Discover) and Carol Middleton (Huathe) who have provided training for many Irish Forest School leaders over the past few years. Brian Poots from the North of Ireland (NIFSA) will also present, as well as many of our own members who have pioneered Forest School learning here — including Ciara Hinksmann (Earth Force Education), Jenny Dungan and others.

Special thanks to The Irish National Heritage Park who have sponsored the venue and The Heritage Council who have supported us in this start-up phase. Once you have booked and paid, you will receive a confirmation email and full programme details.

Bookings are not confirmed until payment is made to the following account:

BIC: BOFIIE2D IBAN – IE10BOFI90671867489058
Account name: Irish Forest School Association
Sort code: Bank of Ireland 90-67-18
NB: Reference your name with your bank transfer. 

Apologies if you receive this email more than once — we are still getting our systems in place! Do not hesitate to email me if you have any queries. I am looking forward to meeting you again in May.

Best wishes,
Joan Whelan
Irish Forest School Association