Forest School Awards
The outreach programme for Learning Without Walls

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How To Become A Forest School

NIFSA has been developing and delivering outdoor learning programmes for schools and nurseries across Northern Ireland since 2008. We have trained hundreds of teachers to become accredited Forest School Level 3 Leaders in the process.

NIFSA has designed a simple 10 step guide which will help you develop your own outdoor learning programme. Each step has dedicated resources and useful links to make your journey as easy as possible.

Please view the presentation on the 10 steps to developing and delivering a sustainable outdoor learning programme.

Step 1: Register an Expression of Interest with NIFSA.

It is free to register with NIFSA to begin your journey. Once you have registered you will have access to hundreds of outdoor activity ideas, useful websites, research papers and much more. You will then have access to the remaining steps.

You are welcome to use these resources for free for as long as you wish. However, when you feel it is time for your organisation to become an accredited Forest School (Step 5 onwards) there are a variety of NIFSA programmes available. These have been developed to suit every budget and need your organisation may have.

To become a Forest School your first need to register for free with the Northern Ireland Forest School Association. If you are not already registered, please click here.

Once you have registered, you will get free access to the loads of free resources and tools to help you work towards becoming a Forest School.
There are TWO ways that registered schools can work through the programme to successfully achieve Forest School status. Both these options require your school to be a member of NIFSA which costs £100 annually.
  1. "Getting your class outdoors" Blended learning programme. A mixture of on-line and practical training with your class. Provides you with all the theory, practical knowledge and resources to successfully set up your own outdoor learning programme. Includes NIFSA membership.

  2. Download the "Getting your class outdoors" Blended Learning programme

    The programme costs £750 or £1,500 which includes installation of seating area in your setting and a visit to Clandeboye Nature Ranger Centre in Bangor. The first permanent Forest School site in Northern Ireland.

    Funding is available from participating Council areas and company sponsorship but is a competitive process and not guaranteed.

  3. You can request a nearby Forest School to mentor you through the programme. This option is available once you become a member of NIFSA. Additional costs include registration of Open College Network (approximately £50 and official Forest School plaque £50 on successful completion). You must observe at least two different Forest School sessions from your mentor and complete all your on-line assignments before you will be observed by NIFSA for your accreditation.

How to Become a Forest School
How to Become a Forest School