Leaders

Meet the Leaders

Ellen Blackwood

Ellen is the director of Primary Forest School & Outdoor Education. Having completed her Level 3 Forest School Leader qualification she is very passionate about providing forest school experiences for primary school children across south west England. 

Ellen has graduated with a Sport, Physical Activity and Exercise degree from Durham University and has also completed a Masters by research at Exeter University having investigated the benefits of dinghy sailing for young people. 

Alongside Primary Forest School Ellen runs the Dorset Franchise for sports. Ellen’s sporting qualifications include Level 2 Basketball Coach, Level 1 Netball and Volleyball, and also a fully qualified sailing instructor as well as holding the Forest Schools qualification. Ellen has several years of coaching experience and led sessions in a variety of sports including multi-skills, athletics, dodgeball and rocket ball. She has spent 6 weeks in Zambia coaching netball, basketball and volleyball and 2 months in America working in an underprivileged camp as a lifeguard and swim teacher. Ellen’s own sporting background consists of playing in the National League basketball, and playing locally in netball and basketball whilst taking a leisurely approach to sail when she can.

Ellen enjoys the challenge of teaching in diverse environments which makes her suited to delivering forest schools. Her strengths are being adaptable within her sessions and ensuring the participants are having fun whilst learning. 

Ellis Holt

Ellis has a background in outdoor learning. Having run a residential activity centre for children and being a qualified primary school teacher, he brings both aspects to his sessions; giving children well-balanced sessions of: exploration, fun, education and hands-on experiences.

Ellis graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Chemistry. He has subsequently gained coaching qualifications in Kayaking and Canoeing (Level 1 Coach), Archery (Instructor) and Dodgeball (Level 2 Coach). While running the activity centre, he worked with children from 6 years old up to young adults studying for their college courses. He helped train them to gain their young leader sports qualifications and complete their voluntary hours for public services courses. 

Ellis has developed outdoor learning sessions related to the National Curriculum and was a key member of the team that acquired 'Learning Outside the Classroom' accreditation for the centre. He loves the outdoors and truly believes in varied styles of learning; giving young people chances to experience the world in many different ways. One of Ellis' strengths is inclusion; adapting his sessions to allow for child-led learning and making sure all pupils have access to learn and achieve equally. 

Ellis joined Primary Forest School in 2019 and works in our East Devon schools as well as managing our Holiday Club provision.

Becky Holman

Becky has been a self-motivated instructor for most of her working career. It has been of the utmost importance to be able to encourage people to move and keep their minds as well as their bodies active.

After initially qualifying in basic exercise to music, she decided to explore other avenues where she could use her qualifications. She took her skills to many nursery and school settings within Bristol and set up regular fitness sessions within the nurseries for the children.

The children’s classes led Becky to work for an independent school in Bristol, as a Physical Development specialist. This role required her to plan classes, risk assess sessions and write reports on the progress of the children. Becky has always worked in holiday clubs, providing outdoor education and fitness activities throughout the summer holidays.

In her role as a Personal Trainer, Becky works with some physically limited clients, as well as people wanting to train for sports specific aims. Becky qualified for this role at the grand old age of 44, helping people who would never have the confidence to attend group classes or the gym. She visits clients in their homes and trains them in their own environments, where they are comfortable. As Becky progressed through her career, she worked extensively outdoors, using parks and woodlands to teach PE classes, PT sessions and explorers groups. The opportunity arose to shadow a fellow colleague who was running forest school sessions at one of the nurseries. When her colleague moved on Becky seized the opportunity to run the outdoor education programme.

After completing her Level 3 Forest School qualification she went on to launch an additional outdoor education programme at the beach, only one of two Beach schools in Bristol.

In her part time role as an adult fitness instructor, Becky teaches people of all ages and abilities, classes being as much about community and friendship as well as fitness.

In her spare time, Becky is a keen painter and enjoys long cycle rides as well as long walks. She has two boys and two cats and lives with her partner in the Victorian town of Clevedon, North Somerset.

Becky joined Primary Forest School in 2020 and work in our Somerset schools.

Emma Stephens

Emma has worked in conservation for 19 years which includes schools outreach project work for the RSPB, Dormouse monitoring with a licence from Natural England and a Forest School Level 3 qualification.

Emma is always excited to share her love of nature, the natural world and simply being outside. With a focus on natural exploration and awareness of surroundings; Emma finds the innate fascination from young people in green spaces especially inspiring.

Emma can be found with her family, dog and ponies when not at work, maintaining hedgerows, ponds and paddocks! A gentle jog at the weekend with friends and dog keeps the energy levels up…

Emma joined Primary Forest School in 2018 and works in our East Dorset schools.

Katie White

Katie has always had a love for the outdoors and began her outdoor career with a summer at Camp America where she was a camp counsellor, lifeguard and taught swimming.  She then went on to complete a degree in Outdoor Recreation Management.  Since then she has enjoyed working at various outdoor centres teaching Kayaking, Climbing, Sailing, Archery and Team Building. 

Whilst working at a local leisure centre as a Duty manager, she also taught Aqua Fit, Swimming and Bikeability.

She is currently a Director of her own business, which runs alongside being a forest school leader and keeps her very busy!  In her spare time she likes to be out sailing, paddle boarding or cycling with her husband and two boys. 

Katie joined Primary Forest School in 2021 and works in our Bridport schools. 

Alice Tabor

Alice has worked in the special needs sector for over 8 years, working with challenging behaviour and students with learning disabilities. Alice has worked in both the residential management and educational side, organising residential trips for the young people during holiday time.

Alice believes that every child should be offered the same opportunity, whether they have a disability or not. She thrives to make this possible by making every task accessible and achievable for the young people. As well as the work she has done within special needs, Alice’s main passion is scouting and she runs a local Beaver group as well as being a Forest School Leader!

With her involvement outside of work with the scouting movement it has enabled Alice to have the knowledge and experience to offer a range of activities which supports both leisure and outdoor learning such as teaching Archery, Kayaking and supporting young people through their Duke of Edinburgh qualification.

Alice is a confident, friendly, and sociable person with a good sense of humour and a huge passion for the outdoors! Her passion for the outdoors lead her to her Forest School Level 3 qualification.

Alice joined Primary forest school in January 2022, and works in our Dorset schools. 

Annika Groombridge

Annika has previous experience working as a BHS riding instructor working with all age groups and skill levels. She has worked for 19 years as a veterinary nurse caring for animals and helping clients in their time of need as well as teaching animal care to 16-18 year olds. 

Annika loves the outdoors and in her spare time she enjoys the countryside with family, or wild swimming at her local beaches, rivers and lakes. 

She keeps horses, ponies, goats, sheep and a few chickens who keep her busy when she is not working! Her love of forest school started when her children were young and they attended many forest school groups, bringing her to where she is today with Primary Forest School.

Darcy Facer

Darcy has always expressed a keen interest into life in the outdoors, her goal is to give the children as many opportunities and experiences outside as possible. 

She is a strong believer that children aren?t designed for sitting still which can have a negative impact on their learning, forest school allows the children to learn in a more stimulating environment, where they have the freedom to learn in the way that best suites them.

She has previously studied animal management and foundation in art and design. This allows her to bring a different aspect to her teachings. giving a unique perspective for the children to fully take advantage of. 

When not working Darcy loves to spend time outside whether thats Camping or taking part in outdoor activities(paddleboarding).

This year Darcy is going Travelling around some amazing places such as Thailand, Borneo, Bali and south America. She is very excited to gain this knowledge and experience from the wider world which she can bring back to her teachings

Staff INSET

We pride ourselves in our team ethic to learn and develop new skills. Our team meet regularly to discuss our practise and experiences. Coming from a variety of different backgrounds; it is vitally important that we share our successes and build on challenges that we meet along the way. Forest School is always developing and we will never be complacent that our knowledge is complete! 

Career Opportunities

Primary Forest School & Outdoor Education can offer an accelerated development pathway for ambitious leaders looking to progress within the sector. We offer an excellent training and reward package to get leaders up to speed. Leaders can start off by shadowing our current staff and undertaking afterschool club commitments.

Primary Forest School offers one of the highest pay rates in the country and, by employinng all of its staff, can give pension options, holiday pay and a free special occasion day to all employees. Plus, you get free childcare at our holiday clubs too! 

The company has plenty of opportunity for you to take on additional responsibilities, including becoming a development leader to ensure good standards across all schools, responsibility of organising event days such as International Forest Day or managing an area within the company. 

Work Experience – Year 10 & 11 pupils can assist alongside lead coaches within forest school sessions to see the structure of lessons and how lessons are delivered. 

Volunteers – Volunteers can come and help within lessons by setting up equipment, helping with warm ups and games based activities. We ask frequently for parent/ volunteers to assist in particular sessions such as tool use, camp fires and nature walks.

Lead coach – A lead coach will be expected to plan and deliver lessons across the whole range of the forest school subjects. 

Development Leader – Alongside lead coach responsibilities a development leader will be in charge of nurturing the development of other Forest School leaders.

Jobs

Primary Forest School are recruiting across Dorset, Devon and Somerset.

Currently we have 3 positions available. All roles are for forest school leaders with a starting salary of £22,000 pro rata. It is desired that candidates have Level 3 Forest School Leader or equivalent. It is essential that all candidates have a driving license, school or instructor experience, have a great work attitude and can apply themselves both in a team and independently.

Devon
Torquay/ Newton Abbot
20 Hours per week
Working in primary schools from Monday - Wednesday.

North Devon/ Somerset
Tiverton/ Highbridge
20 + Hours per week
Working in Nursery and Primary schools Tuesday - Friday

East Devon
Axminster Area
25+ Hours per week
Working in Nursery and Primary Schools Monday - Friday

For more information or to apply for a role please email ellen.blackwood@primary-forest-school.co.uk with a CV attached.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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