Who we are

Sussex FSA is the local cluster group affiliated to the National Forest School Association.

 

We are passionate about supporting those who deliver Forest School within our local schools and communities in Sussex; nevermore so than now, as we enter 2021 under COVID lockdown restrictions.

Nature Premium Campaign
Update

The National Forest School Association have launched a UK wide campaign, calling for a Nature Premium to fund regular nature experiences for every child. Listen to Sara Collins (FSA Deputy-Chair) speaking recently, about the Nature Premium campaign, on BBC Sounds Woman's Hour  - 34 minutes into programme.

Click here for more information on the Nature Premium Campaign

 

Meet The Team

Mary Peach

Co-Chair

Mary has been a teacher for 35 years, including 17 years as a Level 3 Forest School Leader.  

 

This year Mary has been joined by Ali Gittings, who both become Co-Chairpersons for 2021.

 

Mary led the ‘Under One Tree’ National FSA Conference Organising Committee 2019.  

The highlight of Mary's career has been featuring on BBC Breakfast Show in a Forest School focused article.Her ambition is to see every child in Crawley identify an oak tree!

Ali Gittings 

Co-Chair

Ali trained as a countryside ranger and worked in Environmental Education for a number of years before becoming an Early Years Teacher and a Level 3 Forest School Leader in 2010.  Based at both Camelsdale Preschool and Camelsdale Primary School, Ali is in the privileged position of being able to work with the children on their Forest School journey from the ages of 2 to 11.

 

Ali recently joined the Sussex FSA Committee and was also a member of the 'Under One Tree' National FSA Conference Organising Committee 2019.

Renzo Spano Vice Chair

Renzo has worked in learning and teaching for over 30 years. He has been with Sussex Wildlife Trust for the last 12 years as Level 3 Forest School practioner working with nursery groups, parent and toddler groups, all primary and secondary age groups, pupil referral units, alternative provision colleges, community groups  and various adult groups. Since 2013 he has been part of the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Forest School training and mentoring team.

 

Renzo has been on the Sussex FSA Committee since 2017.

Hear Mary Peach, Co-Chair of Sussex FSA talking with Sue Cox, the headteacher of Brook Infant School and Nursery, Maidenbower, Crawley in a BBC Sussex interview with Danny Pike.

Both Mary and Sue highlight the multitude of benefits that Forest School offers and the creative way that Forest School can be embedded into school life and beyond.

The National Forest School Association are currently campaigning for the Government to create a Nature Premium, for all children in schools to receive funding to spend regular time outdoors, connecting with the natural world.

Mary also joined Tina Hutchinson, a founding member of Sussex FSA, on Saturday's 'Breakfast with Radio Surrey' programme with James Cannon. Mary and Tina can be heard promoting Forest School within the Crawley area at  3hrs 11mins 50secs in this programme.

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Judy Agate

Secretary

Judy is a level 3 Forest School Leader and runs her own Forest School based company Green Caterpillar.. She has recently joined the Bee in the Woods Forest Kindergarten team in Portslade. 

 

Judy has been an active member of the Sussex FSA committee for several years and was recently Workshop Co-ordinator for the 'Under One Tree' National FSA Conference Organising Committee 2019 .

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Liz Miles 

Treasurer

Liz has been an Early Years Educator for over a decade and a Forest School leader since 2015.  She runs Forest School in an Early Years setting in Horsham, which in 2017 became the first Early Years setting in the country to achieve FSA Recognised Provider Status.  

 

Liz also runs woodland based holiday clubs with older children, and works for Sussex Wildlife Trust running their Wildlife Watch and Nature Tots groups, as well as helping to mentor their Forest School trainees.  

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Tina Hutchinson  Mentoring Co-ordinator

Tina Hutchinson is a retired secondary school teacher with wide ranging special needs experience and a level 3 Forest School practitioner whose mission since retirement has been to promote Forest School in every way she can! These days she, being retired, she is not usually running Forest School sessions herself but with her forest school dog, Nugget, visits or offers support, if appropriate, to other practitioners and Forest Schools.

She, together with her colleague Mary Peach, were early pioneers for Forest School in the South East and led the team that originally introduced forest school training and practice in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire, starting back in 2003 from their then base in a Crawley school. The following link is part of a BBC report that gives a brief insight into some of the work they did:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/education-17283190/can-forest-schools-help-academic-studies

Tina was a member of the early national committee that originally set up the Forest School Association (FSA) in recognition of the growing need for a professional body and UK wide voice for Forest School, promoting and supporting best practice, cohesion and ‘Quality Forest School for All’.