Our Training Team

Our Training Team

Our tutors have a wide variety of knowledge and experience and – most importantly – are practitioners who still run Forest School programmes.

Lead tutor, Maddy Irvine, is co-founder of Dorset Forest School. She has a degree in Natural Sciences and a background in working for youth, education and environmental charities. Her passion for Forest School brings all her experience under one canopy. She is a Level 5 DET and Coastal School leader, teaching a range of Forest School and Outdoor Learning courses.

She is experienced in working with children of all ages and levels of ability, including those with behavioural and social communication needs. She has developed Forest School provision for schools and services such as the Quay School, Poole (for students who cannot access mainstream education), the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and Poole Short Breaks (for children with special educational needs and disabilities). Maddy initiated and managed a 5 year project bringing Forest school to 35 Dorset primary schools as part of the Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership. This included consultancy on site design and the mentoring/training of teaching staff to lead Forest School within their schools.

small girl on a pebble beach
Maddy currently runs a pioneering programme at Studio School, a land-based secondary school in Dorchester, delivering Forest School to students in years 7, 8 and 9. She is adamant that all students can benefit from having this provision – from high achievers to those struggling at school. She is demonstrating that time spent in the woodland environment supports social and emotional development as well as nurturing an affinity with the natural world. This sets up students to be better learners both in and out of the classroom and supports them in reaching their full potential.
small girl on a pebble beach
Helen Day has a lifelong interest in the natural world. She became interested in Forest School during a decade of helping to manage a Dorset woodland, where she ran a Forest School base. She has a PGCE and a background in writing education resources for charities and in developing and running community projects. She is a Director of Dorset Forest School and was involved with Maddy and the Dorset Forest School team in the Dorset Ridgeway project as well as in other initiatives throughout the county. Alongside Forest School provision and training, she runs a Dorset-wide project providing a programme of holiday activities for children with special educational needs and disabilities, which includes outdoor and woodland activities.

Our Courses

Level 1 Award in Forest school Ethos and Principles

Level 2 Award in Forest school assistants

Level 3 Certificate for Forest school leaders

Our Forest School course is approved by the Forest School Association. Training days take place at Holton Lee Woods in Wareham and Thorncombe Woods in Dorchester. Our sites are ideal locations to practice how to use fire and tools safely and to discover how to care for the woodland environment.

What others say about our courses:

I have taken away so much as you are a fountain of knowledge with a passion that allows everything to be easily absorbed. Being able to meet with a few people at the end of the course on our skill share allowed me to find a voluntary placement near me in Bournemouth and I have now been offered paid work. Once again thank you for sharing your knowledge and making the course and thereafter an easy, enjoyable ride

A Roycroft

I thoroughly enjoyed this course – I loved the use of tools and it’s really developed my confidence. I particularly liked your anecodotes and the folklore that you brought into the course.


E. Sanderson

Manor Park First School

It has been a great experience and I am so glad I did it with Dorset Forest School. The children are thriving and growing all the time.

N. Moss

Bradpole Pre-school

Get in touch:

Our key aim here at Dorset Forest School is for all children in Dorset to access Forest School, which is why we are passionate about training others. There are a number of options for how we can take you through training, some of which are subsidised.

You first need to decide which training is most appropriate for you: Please contact Maddy using the link below or complete our contact form to explore your options.

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