What is Forest School?
Forest School is a learner-centred or child-led process with close links to regular curriculum objectives.
Read more HERE
Where can I find a local Forest School?
You can find a Forest School near you HERE
Where can I get trained as a Forest School leader?
Click HERE to find out more.
Why should I join the Irish Forest School Association?
The benefits of joining the IFSA:
- To bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful, learning for all, in nature.
- To build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing.
Can IFSA process my Garda vetting?
IFSA can provide Garda vetting for members if you are working as an individual and are not part of an organisation.
If you run a Forest School organisation, or are employed by one, then that organisation should be registered for Garda vetting purposes.
In order to be Garda vetted through IFSA, you will need to confirm the Forest School training programme that you were on and give details of the provider and the cohort/date. You will need to complete the Vetting Invitation Form, (NVB1) and provide original ID.
All persons helping with a FS session must be Garda vetted. See https://vetting.garda.ie/
Is Forest School a full-time option instead of Primary/Secondary School?
Forest School is an ethos, a way of working with children in nature over time, not a place or institution as the name might suggest.
There are schools in Ireland that have a trained Forest School leader or leaders on staff (see map) who run regular sessions with students.
Forest School is not simply taking learning outside into an outdoor classroom, (which also has many benefits) but is defined by 6 Principles (see link).
You may also access Forest School as a local After School programme run by a qualified FS leader.
Is the Irish Forest School qualification valid internationally?
There is no “International ” Forest School qualification.
There is a Level 3 qualification in the UK. You need to check with the qualification standards in other countries if they accept the equivalent qualification.
What is the difference between online and in-person Forest School Leadership training/certification?
While online certification is available now, and might suit some due to time and other constraints, we believe in-person training is far more beneficial to learners.
To become a Forest School leader it is essential to be competent in practical outdoor skills and knowledge, this is best taught and experienced in the outdoors across the seasons.
Other benefits of in-person training include tutor feedback from highly experienced Forest School Leaders, learning as part of a community, collaborative work projects and experiencing a deep connection to place.
Do I need special insurance and where do I get it? Do I need to be qualified to obtain this insurance?
Yes. All Forest School sessions should be appropriately insured. Click HERE for more details
Does Forest School always need to be in a forest?
No, you can practice Forest School in any natural setting including city parks, green spaces and even your gardens. However, where possible, the woodland environment gives us so many health and wellbeing benefits and opportunities for risky play along with deepening our sense of connection to nature.
If all you have is a corner of a field or pitch, we encourage you to develop your own Forest School setting by growing native trees (See LEAF An choill beag resource) and allowing wild places to grow. We want to address both our declining native biodiversity due to habitat loss while improving learners’ experiences and sense of stewardship for the earth.
Please note you must have landowners’ permission before using a site.
How do I know the Forest School where I want to send my child to is run by a fully qualified, properly insured and Garda vetted practitioner/s?
You must ask the practitioner to see evidence of their qualifications, insurance cover and Garda vetting.
What is the difference between NIFSA and IFSA?
NIFSA is the Northern Ireland Forest School Association and has been delivering Forest School training and accreditation to educational establishments since 2008.
IFSA is The Irish Forest School Association and was founded in 2016 to support the development of Forest School in Ireland.
What is the vetting system if I work in Northern Ireland?
When working in Northern Ireland you will need to use the services of Access NI for vetting prior to working with children.
See link enclosed for more information: Types of AccessNI checks | nidirect