Forest School and Outdoor Learning training

Forest School & Outdoor Learning training

© Paul Harris/2020VISION

Based on current Government advice on Covid19, all Forest School and Outdoor Learning training courses and workshops up to 31 August have been cancelled, we will inform you of re-scheduled dates in due course.  Should you be unable to transfer to the re-scheduled course then a full refund will be issued.

Please email for more information

Upcoming courses


Children need nature & nature needs children!

Surrey Wildlife Trust believes in the importance of connecting the people and the wildlife that call Surrey home.  The benefits to our health and happiness that come from feeling connected to nature are many – emotional balance, resilience and a greater sense of purpose to name a few – and the best way to enhance our connection is to spend time outside.  Building these connections during childhood lays the foundation for a happier lifetime, whose echoes are likely to be felt through future generations.  Yes, getting your students outdoors really can be this powerful!

We offer accredited training in Forest School and Outdoor Learning as well as staff INSET training, along with a range of CPD workshops to equip you with the skills and confidence you need to help your school prioritise time outside.

Why train with Surrey Wildlife Trust?

We have been delivering outstanding environmental education to both children and adults since 1978.  Many thousands of children of every age and ability have visited our nature reserves or been visited by our staff in their schools, our aim always being to bring their learning to life and leave them feeling a little bit more connected to the natural world around them.  We have been training adults to run forest schools since 2012 and our team of teacher trainers have decades of experience between them, meaning you will have access to a breadth of expertise and support in your learning journey. 

We are members of the Institute for Outdoor Learning and hold a Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.  Our trainers are members of the FSA (Forest School Association) and are actively involved with the Surrey FSA Group.

What's the difference between forest school and outdoor learning?

Forest school is a learner-led process with regular sessions throughout the year in a woodland or other natural environment.  It gives rein to children’s innate desire to discover and to take (appropriate) risks; the role of the qualified leader is to facilitate the holistic development of the child by providing resources and teaching new skills as required by the child.

Outdoor learning is usually curriculum-linked and adult-led, with clear learning objectives and the same structured approach as classroom-based lessons.  Taking learning outdoors offers different resources, higher pupil engagement, and the many benefits of fresh air and open space on the physical and mental well being of your students.

Forest School training Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications

Our Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants and Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders qualifications are accredited by the Open College Network West Midlands (OCNWM).  We run courses throughout the year, please select from the drop down menus below to find out more.

Not sure what to expect ... try one of our taster mornings!

The perfect opportunity to meet our trainers, ask questions and have a go at some of the activities. 

Due to current circumstances we have put our taster mornings on hold for the time being, please do email us at if you would like to arrange to have a chat with one of our Tutors or to find out more information about our training courses.  



Sue feels privileged to have been able to share people’s joy at discovering nature with Surrey Wildlife Trust since 2009. She is a qualified teacher who has moved beyond the walls of the classroom and worked with both adults and children in an ancient royal hunting forest, on the coasts and heaths of Dorset, and the wooded farmland of Essex, as well as school grounds of all shapes and sizes.  She is our Outdoor Learning Manager and a skilled trainer who lives and breathes forest school and has the enviable (magical?) ability to command the attention of rampaging children in a woodland with a whisper.

Neil’s lifelong passion for the environment and his work as a teacher in various primary schools and nurseries combined when he became a School Grounds Advisor, supporting hundreds of schools and Early Years settings to make their outdoor dreams a reality.  Forest school was a natural extension to his skillset, and as an independent consultant he supported local authorities with their forest school programmes and training.  He also worked part-time as a childcare tutor at Harrogate College where he helped them to create the first outdoor learning area in the country for students in further education.  Neil joined Surrey Wildlife Trust in 2013 and is our Forest School Coordinator.  His imaginative approach and huge breadth of experience with working in school grounds make him a first-class trainer who will probably, definitely, have the answer to your question.

Lucy began her wildlife career in South Africa, inspiring tourists and international volunteers as a field guide and conservation project coordinator.  When she returned to England she turned her hand to practical work on habitat improvement before recognising her true calling as a teacher and joining Surrey Wildlife Trust in 2012 to develop and run environmental education and forest school sessions in the beautiful ancient woodlands of this part of the world.  After a brief but fascinating sidestep into the world of horticultural therapy, she joined the teacher training team in 2019.

Victoria has worked in the education sector in both nursery and primary school settings.  Since joining SWT in 2016 as the guru of all things administrative, she has gained her Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants.  Victoria co-ordinates the Surrey Wildlife Gardening Award each year, arranges the CPD Outdoor First Aid courses and is the main point of contact for the Outdoor Learning Team. 

outdoor learning team

Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders qualification

Price: £950 (£200 deposit)

We also offer a Top-Up to Level 3 course : £500 ( £200 deposit)

Our Level 3 course is for those who wish to lead their own Forest School programme and gain a nationally recognised qualification accredited by the Open College Network West Midlands (OCNWM).  

The course includes seven tutor lead days which includes two further skills days and assessment, the course is designed for the learner to become a qualified Forest School Leader, able to set up and run a Forest School programme.  You will learn how to facilitate groups in a learner-centred way and how to manage a Forest School site sustainably.  It also covers the practical skills required of a Forest School practitioner.  You do not need a Level 2 in order to complete a Level 3 qualification.  

The course will cover: 

  • Planning for and running of your Forest School; policies and procedures, risk assessment, session planning.
  • Theories of learning and development and background to Forest Schools
  • Practical skills and woodland management including fire lighting, tool use, games, identification and use of woodland resources.
  • Observation and feedback of one of the 6 Forest School sessions planned and delivered by you.
  • Coursework portfolio to be completed within 12 months of the start of the course.
  • Portfolio advice and assessment.
  • Skills weekend - 2 days assessing and consolidating ideas.
  • Mentoring days - monthly 'face to face' opportunity to ask questions and receive advice on your portfolio work.  We strongly recommend you attend one of our mentoring sessions.

Entry Criteria : 

Participants should be over 21 years of age and have significant experience of working with young people and adults, for example youth workers, teachers or teaching assistants.  Participants must be DBS checked.

All participants must hold a First Aid qualification by the end of the course.  We recommend a 16 hour (2 day) Outdoor First Aid or a 3 day First Aid at Work certificate.

Level 3 course dates for 2021 (5 days), run from 9.30am to 4.30pm :

We are planning a Level 3 modular course in April/May 2021

Please email us at for more information.


Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistants qualification

Price: £490 (£100 deposit)

Gain your Level 2 Award for Forest School Assistant qualification, accredited by Open College Network West Midlands (OCNWM). 

This 4 day course is designed for the learner to become a qualified Forest School Assistant, enabling them to take a pro-active role in helping a Forest School Leader plan and deliver a Forest School programme and supporting the learners.

This 4 day course covers the following: 

  • Risk assessment, background to Forest Schools.
  • Assisting with the planning and delivery of 3 Forest School sessions.  
  • Practical skills and woodland management including fire lighting, tool use, games, identification and use of woodland resources.
  • Completion of a portfolio of evidence which should be completed within 6 months of the start of the course.
  • Optional mentoring days - a regular face to face opportunity to ask questions and receive advice on your portfolio work.

Entry criteria : 

Participants should be over 18 years old and have some experience of working with young people or adults, for example youth workers, teachers or teaching assistants.  All participants must be DBS checked.    

Level 2 course dates for 2021 (4 days) run from 9.30am to 4.30pm :

Weds 24th & Thurs 25th February and Weds 10th & Thurs 11th March 2021 at Pucks Oak Barn, Compton GU3 1EG. 

Email for a booking form.


TOP-UP L2 to Level 3 Forest School Leader qualification

Price : £500  (A £200 deposit is required with the booking form to confirm a place)

This 4 day top-up course is designed for those already with a Level 2 Assistant qualification who wish to achieve their Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders qualification, accredited by Open College Network West Midlands (OCNWM). 

This is a great way to gain your Level 3 Leader qualification.  Proof of your current Level 2 Assistant qualification is required when booking this TOP UP course.  The course content and requirements are as per the Level 3 qualification criteria and training is covered in four days, not five, there are also no further  skills days to attend on this course.

Top Up Course Dates for 2020/21

Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders training course (4 days) run from 9.30am to 4.30pm :

Tuesday 24th to Friday 27th November 2020 at Nower Wood Educational Nature Reserve, Leatherhead KT22 8QA



Leader in Outdoor Learning (Level 2)

Price: £360 (£100 deposit required)

This three day course is accredited by the Open College Network West Midlands.  You will use exciting primary curriculum linked activities to help you become a Leader in Outdoor Learning (Level 2).

You will also have the opportunity to visit a local school to learn more about how they use their resources.  We offer portfolio advice and assessment for the duration of the course through monthly mentoring sessions (not compulsory).  Completion is expected within 6 months.

During the course you will learn:

  • Experience of outdoor activity ideas for core and foundation subjects

  • Knowledge of research demonstrating the benefits of outdoor learning
  •  Skills to maximise outdoor play for learning in break times
  • Ability to improve your school grounds for learning
  • Awareness of wider schemes and programmes to support you
  • Skills for managing classes outdoors
  • Awareness of good health and safety practice and appropriate risk taking
  • Identify activities to support children's interest in local wildlife

You will cover the following units for your portfolio;

  • Benefits of Outdoor Learning
  • Engaging children with local wildlife
  • Health and Safety in the natural environment
  • Learning in the natural environment
  • Using and improving the school grounds and the natural environment

Course dates for 2021 run over three days from 9.30am to 4.30pm :

Mon 7th & Tues 8th June and Mon 28th June 2021 at Pucks Oak Barn, Compton GU3 1EG


Staff INSET training (outdoor learning & forest school)

Price (up to max 20 staff members):
FULL DAY : £725
HALF DAY AM or PM & TWILIGHT sessions : £425

Please contact us for further prices if you wish to run an INSET for 20+ staff members.

Our staff INSET training sessions provide an exciting opportunity to inspire, challenge and develop your staff’s confidence in outdoor play and learning within your school or nursery setting!  Popular curriculum based topics include;

  • Literacy in the Outdoor Classroom
  • Numeracy in the Outdoor Classroom
  • An introduction to a Forest School programme
  • Developing your grounds for outdoor learning

The training is suitable for any member of staff, including Head Teachers, Class Teachers, Teaching Assistants, SENCOs, LSAs/TAs, EYFS, KS1 & KS2, lunch and break staff.  We can focus on Early Years, Primary or both.

We will tailor our INSET sessions to suit your specific requirements within your school setting, whether its discovering the benefits of outdoor learning, practical activities, pond dipping, playground games or a forest school taster.  We will provide all the equipment and resources needed for the session. Please contact us to discuss our range of skills and expertise to get exactly what you want from your staff INSET training day.

Contact Victoria Pinder 01483 663300 or email 

Outdoor First Aid qualifications

We provide a range of two day (16hr) outdoor REC and POFA first aid training courses held at either Nower Wood, Leatherhead or Pucks Oak Barn, Compton. 

These are advertised and available to book on our WhatsOn page.

Course dates 2020/21

Upcoming courses


How to book on a course

Download and complete the booking form below and email to

Give us a call : 01483 663300

Running a Forest School on our land

If you wish to undertake Forest School activities on one of the sites we manage, please get in touch.

License enquiry form

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