The Tree House Learning Team

Check out our great team members below:

I grew up on the West Coast of Canada in an area of great environmental wealth. I spent my early years in the forest building clubhouses, playing make-believe and climbing trees. I spent my summer vacations camping in the wilderness, which meant that as a child I learned how to make a shelter from the rain and cook food over a campfire. Through these experiences I have learned an appreciation, respect and love for the natural world, and these values have stayed with me throughout my life.

I graduated from the University of Victoria in Canada with a five-year degree in Elementary Education and a specialisation in adaptation and modification for students with special needs. During my University years I learned how to rock climb and found yet another level of connection to the natural world. Obtaining my degree and subsequently becoming a teacher led me to London where alongside classroom teaching (in both traditional and alternative education settings) I became a mother.

Becoming a mother meant that I began searching for something for my children that was similar to the what I experienced in my upbringing — a way to instil in them the same respect for the natural world that I had learned at such a young age. The environment that they are growing up in is so different from my own that I was forced to look a bit harder. This was how I discovered Forest School. My two beautiful children were my motivation for qualifying as a Forest School Leader and creating Tree House Learning.

I earned the Forest School Leader Level 3 qualification in 2010, through which I also earned a certification in outdoor paediatric first aid. I now run one of the few independently run Forest Schools in Kingston upon Thames / Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, and not being affiliated with a school allows me to design and implement curriculum to suit the needs of the individual children in my classes. I feel that the combination of my personal experience in and understanding of natural environments, my background in classroom teaching and my knowledge of adaptation and modification to suit individual needs makes me ideally suited to lead Forest School. More than that, I believe in it and am very passionate about it, which I believe rubs off on the children in my classes.

ChrisI was born in North London and moved to the countryside in Surrey when I was 8 it was there that my interest in the natural environment started. I learned and played with my brother, sister’s and friends in the natural woodland near the house and then as we grew with experience and confidence we travelled further into the pine forests of Alice Holt and then the Heathlands of Frensham common. Little did I know what a lasting effect this would have on me. It would be fair to say that my time in school was not the most fun however by the time I had got to
6th form I had worked as an assistant ranger at Frensham and then on the plant nurseries in Tilford later on gaining qualifications in Applied Biology specializing in plant sciences and horticulture from N.E.S.C.O.T and Merrist Wood respectively.

With starting a family my time outdoors was limited but as my boys grew older we spent more time camping and going to Bushcraft meets in Kent and Wales. We now go camping regularly and that has led to a deeper interest in Bushcraft and living sustainably from our native woodlands.

My wish to get back to the environment I feel most comfortable in lead to the decision to leave my job in finance and re-train two years ago. Thankfully at least my mid life crisis did not involve leather jackets motorbikes or sports cars but a growing collection of kaki out door clothing and woodland tools.

This has led me to my current point in life helped along by inspirational training sessions by a man called Patrick and forest school training with John from Bridgewater college. In addition I have also attended a year long N.C.F.E accredited course “Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership” with John Ryder’s “Woodcraft School” which has done exactly what it said on the tin (changed my life) I also have qualifications as a first responder in remote First Aid, Enhanced C.R.B, Safeguarding and last but not least food safety in catering.

Bearing in mind that the educational system in the UK today can not possibly cater for all of our young people, I feel that in a Forest School environment the young people can learn, take risks, grow in confidence and most importantly have fun. It would be fair to say that the time spent working with April at Tree House learning and my plans to work with children and adults in an outdoor environment are rewarding for me and I hope also for the people I teach.

Although I don’t actually come out to the woods and participate as a leader, you will see me at special events and attending ‘Parent and Child’ workshops with my children. I am an integral part of keeping the not for profit organisation running in the background. I help with financial, marketing and administrative duties including relations with the council. I also help to secure grants and funding in order to keep the business going and therefore ensure that more children can have access to this creative and enriching environment. I believe in what April and her team are doing wholeheartedly and am grateful that my own children get to attend and I get to be a small part of something so worthwhile.