A FOREST School near Swindon launched a new training qualification scheme for teachers to encourage more outside learning.

Brightwood Training uses the National Trust woods of Ashdown House for practical outdoor lessons and training.

The company teamed up with the Switch On To Swindon initiative to showcase the area and inspire more teachers to work with pupils outdoors.

Brightwood Training director Vicki Stewart said: "We wanted a way for teachers to learn how to take children outdoors safely. They can learn the theory of forest schools online now, and finish their practical training in the woods in small groups which are Covid-19 compliant."

The business provides teachers and people who want to work with young people outdoors with the training they need to take them outside safely and help their mental health.

By learning the theory online, teachers can complete that part of their training at a time that suits them, and still have some time in the woods to learn the practical skills.

Research suggests that the mental health of children and teachers benefits from being outdoors.

Vicki added: "We are expecting a real need for mental health care after lockdown, something that being out in nature can mitigate. Brightwood

"Lots of schools will be looking for ways to take learning out of the classroom now that the government has recommended learning outdoors. This course will help teachers to do that.

"We found that teachers who come to this forest school often have no idea how beautiful the Swindon area is and how many forests there are.

"We’re a small rural business near Swindon and to other small businesses, I would I recommend going online to survive this crisis."

Vicki is the voluntary Wiltshire representative for the Forest School Association and can help people find forest schools in the county. The courses her company runs are all accredited by the Institute for Outdoor Learning.

The practical training days will be held on September 28 and 19, and October 5 and 6. To access the course, email vickibrightwood@gmail.com.