Forest School Leader Mark Redford

Mark Redford (BEd) HONS, EYP

I graduated from the University of Greenwich in 1997 as a teacher of secondary physical education and science and spent a few years teaching in inner London in a mainstream girl’s comprehensive school, in a school for junior pupils with profound disabilities and in a pupil referral unit.  I found working with pupils who have problems with their behaviour to be both challenging and rewarding and after moving up North to Warrington I specialised in that area.

20130202_122020I spent seven years teaching in schools for pupils with behavioural, social and emotional difficulties, most notably at Chaigeley School in Thelwall.  During that time I learned a lot about how children’s behaviour manifests itself because some needs are not being met and the importance of earlier life in shaping them.

In 2009 I became a childminder when I took a break from supply teaching to give Sally a maternity break when she had our son Samuel.  This changed my direction to working with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can now see how important it is to give children a good start in life as I have seen the other end of the spectrum from working with troubled teenagers.

Early in 2012 I discovered Forest School when doing volunteer work for NCMA Local – now PACEY Local. (Sally and I were facilitators and rolled out this DfE/NCMA pilot scheme across Warrington, which has now gone national.)  When I invited a forest school practitioner from Delamere Forest to give a talk about it to local childminders and nannies it struck me as a fantastic way to work with children.  I was hooked, and attended a teacher training day at Delamere Forest and was inspired further.  I took loads of ideas back to my practice and really enjoyed seeing how the children responded to it.  I signed up to do the practitioners level 3 award and completed the initial training week in August 2012 completed the assessment in August 2013.  I am a member of the Forest School Association.  I am currently delivering Forest School for many schools across Warrington and Cheshire and run a forest school group for home educated children.

I was accredited with Early Years Professional Status in July 2013.

In November 2016 we took on Adlington Woods which I now manage with a team of dedicated staff.

I am subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.


Nest in the Woods Manager Sally Cliffe

Sally Cliffe (FdA)

 1469936_10152032569847034_1091504279_n[1]After working with children of different ages throughout my career I feel the early years are the most important. They are the foundations for life long learning, health and behaviour. The child’s brain develops more than any other time in its life. The early years experience of things the child’s sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes, stimulates the brain creating millions of connections and shaping the adult the child will become.  I believe the forest school ethos provides a rich, stimulating and natural learning environment through a child led approach supported by experienced and caring adults therefore I have followed my dream of opening an outdoor forest school preschool.

I have completed training as a forest School level 3 leader. I am Paediatric first aid trained and have my outdoor first aid. I have a Foundation Degree in Early Years, an HNC, an HND and an NVQ Level 3 all in within childcare and early Years. With 20 years of experience working with children in different settings, including mainstream schools, Special Schools, Pupil Referral Unit, Special needs, after school clubs, accredited childminding and PreSchool.

I have completed a Level 3 award in Supporting Children and Young People’s speech language and Communication and thoroughly believe the outdoor environment is the best place for language development, learning speech through first hand experiences. I have attended courses on Raising Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL), Raising Early Mathematical skills, Communicating friendly spaces, Portage training, working with vulnerable 2 year olds, Understanding and Supporting Children’s Pro-Social Behaviour, Phonics, Listening as a Way of Life, Working with Vulnerable families, Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator, (SENCO), Makaton, Montessori, Domestic violence and Visual impairments (to name just a few). I have taken part in research with the National Children’s Bureau in Raising Early Mathematical Skills which is a follow on study from Raising Early literacy skills (REAL).

After an initial idea in 2012 of a Forest School Pre-school I went onto completing my forest school training and opened up Grappenhall Nest in the Woods Preschool. In September 2016 just 12 months after opening our Grappenhall site was inspected by Ofsted and got Outstanding in all areas. In November 2016 we took on the woods at Adlington and in October 2017 we opened up our second preschool site Adlington Nest in the Woods Preschool which we hope will prove to be just as successful.

I am a member of the Forest School Association and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.


Nest in the Woods Deputy Manager Gemma Shaw


GemmaShawI am a qualified teacher with a degree in Linguistics and a PGCE in Primary Teaching. I have 10 years’ experience working with children in schools and Preschool as both a Teaching Assistant, Teacher and a deputy Manager at a local Preschool. As a teacher I have taught children across the primary age range from Nursery to Key stage 2.

I have been able to experience first-hand the benefits of Forest School. I have watched children become more independent and self-confident whilst engaged in child-led learning. Their natural curiosity and motivation to discover and challenge themselves is clearly visible. The opportunity for learning to manage their own risk taking builds confidence and their pride in their accomplishments is evident.
The experience I have gained from being part of Forest School sessions has challenged my understanding of what high quality early years provision should look like. I have found it refreshing to work in a truly child led way with minimal additional resources needed and was immensely proud when after just 12 months of opening we gained Outstanding in all areas on our first Ofsted.
I am Level 3 forest school leader qualified, Paediatric first aid and outdoor first aid qualified and have attended courses on food safety, speech and language, tremendous two year olds, Role of SENCO, Portage training, Early language development, phonics letters and sounds, behaviour management and safeguarding.

I am a member of the Forest School Association and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.

Forest School Leader Adam Sebes


Forest School Leader Sarah Wilson Crookes

I discovered the forest school approach whilst studying for my Masters Degree in Early Years Practice. I was inspired by the concept of learning in a woodland environment, but also by the ethos of Forest school which closely parallels in my personal philosophy of education and teaching – child centred, holistic and unrestrained.

After completing my Level 3 Forest school leader training, I established a Forest school programme in the nursery I was managing and was awed by the impact the programme had on the children’s learning and development. The children thrive in the woods. Their curiosity stimulated by the natural world and their independence and confidence boosted by the freedom and space enjoyed out in the open air. I watched as the children motivated and encouraged themselves and lead their own learning experiences, mastering new skills and developing their understanding of the world around them. These experiences lead to a deeper understanding and knowledge than I had previously seen in a classroom. Unable to develop the programme any further at the setting I was delighted to be given the opportunity to join the team at Nest in the Woods. Here, I am fortunate enough to work with and learn from like minded professionals who share a similar ethos of learning and passion for forest school. Its also heaps of fun!

I am really excited to be part of the new Preschool in Adlington from the start. As a parent, I understand that finding the right childcare can be difficult and I strive to make this as easy transition as possible. I aim to develop strong relationships with children and their families to be able to meet holistic needs. I thoroughly believe Forest school is the best start a child can have.

I have paediatric and outdoor first aid and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.


Forest School Leader Rebecca Wheeler

I am extremely passionate about Forest School and the whole Forest School ethos and have been for a long time. I left my job within a secondary school as a horticulture teacher and head of department, delivering a Level One Certificate in Work-Based Horticulture to take up the post of Forest school leader for Learning in the Woods, Nest in the Woods community interest company.

I am forest school Level 3 qualified and have outdoor first aid.

Highlights have been taking a group of pupils twice to compete in the Schools Garden Competition at the RHS Tatton Flower Show. Organising annual Apple Day Events in partnership with local primary schools.

I have 15 years teaching experience working with children and young people of varying ages and ability.

I have taught art and crafts, horticulture and garden design within adult education, including five years experience of working with adults with learning difficulties.

For the last nine years teaching level 1 in work based horticulture to children from key stages three and four. Teaching horticulture, to key stage 2 pupils, from the local feeder primary schools.

Teaching horticulture, to a mixed year group, from the Designated Provision Unit.

I am an enthusiastic gardener and I have a great love of the outdoors. From a young age I have been passionately interested in plants, natural history and the environment. For my own interest I am presently studying botany through the online Identiplant course.

I am a member of the forest school association and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need to see my reference number.


Forest School Leader Michelle Peake

I have always had a passion for being outdoors, having been lucky enough to grow up with a woodland garden & I get great pleasure being able to share my knowledge & experience with the children I work with.

When I had my own two children I enjoyed volunteering at their school & this led me into education training, firstly gaining my NVQ Level 3 Early Years Care & Education in May 2004, then progressing onto become a HLTA in December 2010. I have extensive experience in teaching & supporting children both in mainstream & Special Education Needs Schools,  have received specialist training in ASD, as well as safeguarding, meeting the needs of EAL learners & targeting mental health in schools.

I set up & began delivering Outdoor Learning lessons in 2012, working with both KS1 & KS2 children in a local primary school. The sessions covered all areas of the curriculum & also taught the children how to successfully manage & grow sustainable crops in their allotments. Seeing their enjoyment & enthusiasm outdoors inspired me to train in Forest Schools.

In July 2016 I qualified as a Level 3 Forest School Leader  & knew this was to be my future; to provide opportunities & experiences for child-led learning & developing outdoors. Being able to encourage independence, confidence & resilience in  young people, teaching the importance of ecology in their local environment & new skills that they can use for the rest of their lives,  is an amazing job to have & I feel very lucky to be able to work in this area.

I am outdoor first aid trained and have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you need my reference number.

Forest school Assistant Callum Smith

During my years at high school I joined the Air Training Corp. I remained for four years and achieved rank of Senior Sergeant, the highest ranking cadet at the squadron. In cadets I also received my Squadron Marksman, First aid, Btec in leadership and a Btec in  Aeronautics. I specialised in teaching drill and field craft.

My hobbies include guitar, skateboarding and photography and videography, I’m also a freelance photographer.

After leaving school I went to Macclesfield college to do an apprenticeship in Play Work working at Adlington woods then called Wacky Woods. I have now completed that apprenticeship and have started my level 3 Diploma in childcare. I hope to start my forest school leaders course in the near future.

I enjoy all aspects of forest school and love to watch how children progress and become more confident in a woodland setting using tools and playing in mud.

I am paediatric first aid trained and have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you want to see my reference number.


Nest in the Woods Pre-School Assistant Faye Hill

20150831_124315 (1)Having three children has allowed me to experience several different Preschools and what they offer so I was intrigued to learn about Nest in the Woods.

My youngest child attended Forest School sessions provided by Learning in the Woods at his Preschool and they were always the highlight of his week – I saw him come home with rosy cheeks, always happy and energised.
With all my children now at school I decided to persue a career in childcare.
My children are my world and I can think of nothing more fulfilling than looking after children and helping them to grow and learn.
I have A levels in Art, English and Geography and have just completed my Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years practitioner alongside attending safeguarding and paediatric first aid courses.

I am qualified in Forest school Level 3 and outdoor first aid.

I feel its important for children to have the chance to learn outside and I’m thoroughly enjoying being part of it.

I have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you need my reference number.


Nest in the Woods Pre-School Assistant Lesley Chriscoli

My best achievement to date is a being a Mum to my two fantastic children! Becoming a Mum and experiencing everything that goes with it, inspired me to become involved within the Childcare Profession. I began volunteering at my previous setting and progressed to becoming employed and undertaking a Diploma in the Children and Young Peoples Workforce.
The time I have spent working with children has helped me to understand how fantastic they are at learning through play and how a variety of experiences enhances this learning. Being involved with Forest School sessions has reinforced my belief that outdoor learning and its process can help children to learn in a new, natural way, helping to develop skills across all areas.
I am passionate about children’s learning and development and sharing their learning journey in the early years. I enjoy working with children and parents in helping them to develop speech and language through the ECAT (Every Child a Talker) programme.
I am excited to be a part of Nest in the Woods, something I know is going to be a huge success and really rewarding to enrich the lives of many lucky children.

I am paediatric first aid trained and have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you need my reference number.

Nest in the Woods Pre-School Assistant Heather Glover

I love the outdoors and try to walk or run somewhere in the fresh air everyday. I also enjoy orienteering, reading, languages and travel. I help at the local Sunday School and am an Assistant Leader at the local Beavers. I worked for many years as a languages teacher: French, German and Spanish in a busy high school but once I became a parent I had a change in direction.


Nest in the Woods Pre-School Volunteer Katya Todorova (MA(Phys)

I am a scientist, with masters degree in Physics and Astrophysics. I have always loved the outdoors, and spent considerable time hiking in the Bulgarian mountains. After I graduated I worked as Mountain Guide for a Danish travel agency for 4 years and qualified as a Mountain Leader in 1999 (Sofia). I have a very diverse range of interests, hobbies and work experiences.
After the birth of my son, I became more and more interested in education, and especially early years. I spend some time as a volunteer with my son’s nursery. They were very good at providing the children with the resources to organise their play outdoors and be creative. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the ease the children were responding to all activities outdoors. As a child, I was lucky to spend the summer months exploring the fields and mountains with minimal supervision. Looking back, this part of my childhood has enabled me to develop an inquisitive mind, and grow in confidence both physically and socially, and to become the person I am.
So it is a great opportunity and a privilege to be able to work and learn from Sally and Mark. I started my Level 3 Forest school leaders award in May 2016 and completed my outdoor first aid. I hope to start a course to qualify as Early Years practitioner and be able to help more children to experience the freedom to play with and learn from each other; to be confident in their abilities while discovering the amazing world that surround us.

I have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you need to see my reference number.