Meet the team: Outdoor Teacher Phil - The Heart of England Forest


Creating and conserving England’s largest new native broadleaf woodland would not be possible without our dedicated and hardworking team. Meet Phil, our outdoor teacher.

Joined the charity

September 2020

Role at the charity

Outdoor Teacher

Tell us about your work prior to joining the charity

I’ve been a teacher for 20 years; four years at Salford Priors and the past 15 years at Holy Trinity C of E School in Stratford-upon-Avon, latterly as deputy headteacher.

The insight I bring from my years of teaching mean I understand the challenges schools face and what drives them. I am looking forward to using this knowledge to help schools deliver curriculum-based learning in the Forest and create long-term partnerships which benefit both staff and pupils.

When did your interest in the great outdoors begin?

Walking and the great outdoors has always been a part of my life. My mum used to take me for walks when I was young, and I learned a lot from her. I still walk regularly and am a frequent visitor to the Forest with Jess, my four-year-old Jack Russell.

What are your specialist areas?

I am a maths specialist and am already thinking about ways to teach this in the woods –sorting activities, giant graphs, angles, and symmetry in nature, it is really exciting. I cannot think of a better way to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.

What are you looking forward to most in your new role?

I am a firm believer in experiential and multisensory learning, getting children into the outdoors to be inspired by the environment and learning from someone who is inspired by it too. Most important is that the children enjoy learning. The Forest is a precious environment for children and delivers so much for the senses, health, and mental wellbeing.

What is the biggest challenge in your role?

Outdoor learning will come into its own during this new school year, with many children not having been at school since March. There will be lots of unknowns and much work to be done to help children settle back into learning, to boost their self-esteem and deal with a wide range of behavioural issues.

The Forest can be a sanctuary for children that are finding things difficult and a great place to reconnect with their classmates.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In addition to walking my dog, I play guitar (badly) and I like cooking (and eating).

Learning in the Forest

The progressive learning programmes in the Forest deliver core subjects outside the confines of the classroom. Last year children spent a total of 12,979 hours in the Forest, learning outside the classroom and connecting with nature. Find out more about our Learning and Skills work.

The Heart of England Forest