Today’s blog post is one I’ve been mulling over writing for a while. It was going to be a very different post, one of pleading, of frustration and ultimately based in fear (expertly worded of course 😉 but the intention would have remained the same). But that didn’t fit the ethos of the blog, of me.
Serendipitously this week I also attended the launch conference for the new Care Inspectorate Standards. Guys, I come baring VERY good news! This is the change we have all been waiting for, the good news story amongst all the fear and frustrations. I will be writing more specifically on the new Standards and how we as a team at Stramash interpret them into real practice over on the Stramash blog in the near future – I will post links on here when they go live.
So until then all I will say is that the conference itself was a heartening and inspiring look at how these new values and ethos driven standards celebrate what we do. How they reflect the holistic view of the child and the Care we provide. How they recognise the benefits of time spent outside, of play and the Scandinavian model (which was mentioned specifically).
‘Forest school is dead, long live forest school’. I know there are those in our community who feel frustrated, tired, like the message is being diluted or not getting through.
Dear muddy, wood smoke scented warriors take heart, the tide is turning. ‘Education’ is an enormous ship to turn around. Change is uncomfortable for many and takes time. I understand the daily battles that so many of you face in your settings trying to explain, protect and encourage others to value what you do in the face of (at times) unrelenting pressures of time, curricular, risk aversion and assessment. It is almost impossible to know that outside our woods and green spaces, people in boardrooms (in suits and shoes free from mud) are discussing the value of what we do.
These people, with the power to effect real change are listening, recognising and starting to make the changes we have all been asking for. Early years are leading the charge, however with the new ‘free hours’ increase they are also arguably under the most immediate pressure to adapt and grow. We also know that for every £1 of investment in early years we save £7 – Getting it right in the 1st place, early intervention & investment SAVES money.
So the blog post I’d intended to write was one of an appeal; an appeal to a FS training provider, to consider the implications of its decision to release a fully online Forest School qualification. I still have many thoughts on this but they are superseded (for now) by the more positive realisation/remembering that we are part of a bigger family, a bigger movement. Many of us are related ourselves to a wider network of getting it right for kids; Play-workers, teachers, outdoor educators, family support workers, childminders, parents, social workers, trainers and forest school leaders – we all wear many hats.
What we share is we ken! We share a knowing and deep understanding of the power and the benefits for children spending time in the natural world – forest, beach or garden, whatever you have. We know it from scientific study and from our own observations. There will always be people trying to make a quick buck, calling this whole thing a fad or finding some way to undermine what we do, ready to jump on the band wagon and deliver an inferior service then wonder why (or worse, not care) why the results are not the same.
I have talked before about care with a small and big C. I am in the ‘business of Care’ but how that plays out in practice is all down to how much I care. I care about society, I care about the world these children are a part of and I care about how their whole lives are affected by the people who are making decisions on their behalf. I know that what we do and the way we do it every day matters.
I do care when people make choices that I don’t see as being in the best interests of these children or the industry as a whole, but care (both big and little C) take up a LOT of energy. We are trail blazers and mind shapers.
To challenge every one directly would be to turn ones life into a ‘Forest School themed’ game of whack a mole! I’m going to maintain my focus, keep providing and sharing best practice. Keep getting excited and sharing positivity. Keep my focus firmly on the people who matter – the children this is all for!
Forest School is an ethos, an idea, a ‘model’; it lives within those of us who still deliver, who still care and who keep it alive. We are forest school, so if it’s dead it’s because we’ve let the fire go out. I don’t believe that’s true and there has never been a better time to prove it.
Who’s with me?