Hi, I’m Rachel – the founder of Holdfast Beach & Forest School. I’m an Educator and Forest School Leader with a decade’s experience of delivering learning outdoors. I provide Forest School services for Schools, Forest and Beach School groups for families and Outdoor Learning Consultancy for all.
I am a member of the Therapeutic Forest Approved Practitioners’ Network and the UK Forest School Association. I am passionate about supporting wellbeing through time in nature and increasing outdoor opportunities for all children and their families.
Holdfast Beach & Forest School was born from my life-long passion for the Coast and connecting people with their local natural environments.
After over decade working on environmental policy and managing community and infrastructure projects, I retrained to work in education, facilitating Outdoor Learning and as a Beach & Forest School Leader.
I am incredibly passionate about what outdoor learning and the Forest School process can do for all types of learners. My background means I have unique insights and skills to bring to educating about the environment – I not only fully understand (and love) natural habitats and processes, I also have a truly holistic view about what the environment means to people and how to enhance their learning experience within it. I am committed to improving my practice through regular professional development course and strive to be as inclusive as possible.
I discovered Forest School when my son was a baby and quickly realised that it provided a place for both us to learn and connect with the natural world. Forest School is driven by the learners – no matter of age. A true Forest School programme is shaped by the participants and learner-centred education is the key to empowering people to be involved in their own learning for life. I am driven to make this amazing educational philosophy as accessible as possible and have now run Forest School sessions for Community Outreach programmes and for Specialist Resourced Provision Units.
I decided lead Beach School because of my love for the coast and the incredible habitats in the intertidal zone. I believe the coastline, like woodlands, is an incredible educational resource – the fauna, the flora, the geology, the colours, the textures, the smells… There’s just so much to stimulate the senses and so much to engage with and here in East Kent we have plenty of beautiful beaches. Beach School is for everyone, for all ages. Who doesn’t love playing on the beach?
As well as running Holdfast Beach & Forest School, I also have considerable experience designing and delivering inspirational educational projects for organisations including Turner Schools Academy Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent County Council and The Conservation Volunteers.
- My Education qualifications and good practice requirements:
- Level 3 Forest School Leadership qualification – EarthcraftUK
- Level 3 Wild Beach Leadership certificate – Sussex Wildlife Trust
- Postgraduate Certificate in Integrated Practice with Children & Young People – The Open University
- Certificate in Therapeutic Skills for Outdoor Leaders – The Therapeutic Forest CIC
- Enhanced DBS certificate – Ofsted
- Level 3 Childcare – CACHE
- Specialist Forest School & Paediatric First Aid Certificate – EarthcraftUK
- Mental Health First Aider – MHFA England
- Safeguarding & Child Protection – Hays Education for Turner Schools Academy Trust
- Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering – Highfield
- Forest and Beach School Combined Public Liability & Employee Liability Insurance – Birnbeck Insurance
- Recent Continuous Professional Development:
- Supporting Autistic Children’s play and interaction skills webinar – The SEND Trainer (February 2021)
- Understanding Autism course – The Open University (February 2021)
- Coping with Changes: Social Emotional Learning Through Play course – The Lego Foundation (January 2020)
- Inclusion in Role Play webinar – The Black Nursery Manager (December 2020)
- Child Protection in Sport training – NSPCC (November 2020)
- Teaching Students who have suffered complex trauma course – Queensland University of Technology (July 2020)
- Introduction to ACEs and Early Trauma course – West Midlands Police/Home Office (June 2020)
- Designing Spaces for Children course – Children in Permaculture/New School Canterbury January 2020
- Other Qualifications:
- 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training – Union Margate & Cosmic Kids Yoga (Ongoing)
- Natural Mindfulness Guide Training – International Mindfulness and Meditation Alliance
- MA Town Planning – The University of Westminster
- University Diploma in Geosciences – The Open University