Team – the staff and volunteers
Bright Woods Forest School CIC is a non-for-profit Community Interest Company. This means that all of our profits are reinvested to benefit the local community.
Our staff members have a vast amount of experience in delivery of Forest Schools programmes, outdoor education and creative activities. They are qualified in the Outdoor First Aid, are DBS checked, hold Food Safety Certificate and are members of the Forest School Association:
Honia has over 12 years’ experience in delivery of outdoor education and wildlife conservation projects as well as running events and wild themed birthday parties to children of all ages. She has previously worked for London Wildlife Trust and more locally for the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership. She has an MSc in Biology with specialism in Environmental Biology and is a qualified Forest Schools Level 3 Practitioner.
Gemma (BA Hons, PGCE) spent more than 14 years working in community arts and ran a successful Educational Arts business, working with children throughout KS1-3, before becoming a qualified primary school teacher.
As a freelance artist, Gemma worked with schools and community groups delivering various workshops, which are inspired by the Reggio Emilia enquiry-based approach of early childhood education. The ethos of the Reggio approach and Forest Schools sit comfortably together as they are about empowering children and helping them to be resilient problem-solvers in the future. Gemma is a qualified Forest Schools Level 1 Practitioner and is currently working towards her Level 3 qualifications.
Both Gemma and Honia are co-directors of the Bright Woods Forest School CIC.
We also have a number of volunteers who contribute to the varied aspects of running of our Forest School including wildlife conservation and practical work as well as assisting sessions and events.
Please get in touch if you are interested in our volunteering opportunities.
Bright Woods Forest School CIC believes in children’s rights to play, access the natural world, experience appropriate risk and a healthy range of emotions.
We believe that children who are given the freedom to play in the outdoors and get dirty and wet are simply happy children. Such children are more fulfilled, less prone to depression and more connected to the world around them.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is an ethos based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to initiate and drive their own learning and development.
It is an inspirational process, that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
Forest School has a unique way of building independence and a positive attitude towards learning, giving children and young people the opportunity to explore the natural world around them.
Opportunities should be on-going rather than stand-alone sessions in order to give learners a deeper understanding of their own surroundings and enable them to use it as a medium to learn important life skills.
Forest School encourages learner-led and initiated learning. The leader’s role is to ensure safety, facilitate activities and to provide a catalyst for ideas rather than directing the sessions.
Forest School offers participants the opportunity to take risks and discover the concept of real actions and their consequences by being receptive to the natural environment and others involved.
Activities can include: shelter-building, fire lighting, foraging, campfire cooking, use of tools, woodland crafts and games. Please check our Offer section for further information on Forest School programmes.
For more information go to the website of Forest School Association:
Here, at Bright Woods Forest School CIC, we feel that even short-term exposure to the natural environment is important, therefore in addition to our Forest School programmes we also offer sessions that directly contribute to learning outcomes in the National Curriculum including Science, Geography and English. Examples of subjects covered include Plants and Animals in the Local Area, Habitats, Growing Plants, Orienteering and Storytelling.
Longer term, we can offer Forest School programmes, which are not curriculum-driven, however they intrinsically cover the many areas of the National Curriculum from Foundation Stage to KS4. One of the principles of Forest Schools is to ensure that the sessions are child led and that the children are given the freedom to follow their interests. Research shows that by using this approach children get the full benefit of the experience including increased confidence and well-being - values that support learning and development, both in the woods and during curriculum time.
Where we work
We run sessions from our site at Deepdale Nature Reserve www.durhamnature.co.uk/deepdale.html or we can come to your location. We can deliver work across south and west County Durham, Darlington and surrounding areas of North Yorkshire. Contact us for more details.
Our site at Deepdale Nature Reserve has temporary shelter and portable toilet facilities for longer sessions. We run activities in most weathers, however in the event of high winds or thunder & lightning the sessions will be rescheduled or a full refund offered.
Health & Safety
'Play – and particularly play outdoors – teaches young people how to deal with risk. Without this awareness and learning they are ill equipped to deal with adult life. Outdoor play and learning is an important part of our children’s education.' [Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive –HSE]
At Bright Woods Forest School CIC, we are fully committed to the Health & Safety and general comfort of all people involved including leaders, clients, participants, volunteers and partners. We carry out risk assessments and risk benefit analysis for all of our activities and sites.
The following documents are available upon request:
Outdoor and Forest Schools First Aid Certificate
Food Safety Certificate
Public Liability Insurance
Handbook with Communications, Policies and Procedures