A teacher from Huddersfield has been recognised for her pioneering work in a new field of outdoor learning.

Jo Liversidge received a Best of the Best Forest Schools Award for her work at a ceremony in Sheffield.

And it was for a project which originally began in Beaumont Park.

The event was organised by Archimedes Training and she was presented with her award by its chief executive, Sarah Blackwell.

Archimedes was the first independent Forest School Training company in the country and is the largest, training and supporting people all over the world.

Forest school is a type of outdoor education in which children visit forests and woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills.

It allows children to have fun and learn in their own way in a less formal and more real world environment than school.

A basic forest school activity such as building a den, for example, can involve teamwork, leadership, communication, science, design and technology, problem-solving, art, imagination and creativity.

Jo’s nomination cited how she has built up a strong working relationship with the friends group at Beaumont Park where she is based.

Jo was nominated for the award by her friend, Lisa Holmes, who said: “I’ve been really impressed by what Jo has been able to achieve since setting up Nature’s Footprints two years ago.

Children enjoy a spot of den building at Nature's Footprints Forest School
Children enjoy a spot of den building at Nature's Footprints Forest School
 

“It’s particularly beneficial for kids like my daughter who is dyslexic and doesn’t necessarily find traditional learning at school easy.”

Jo said: “Forest school is still quite a new concept and as trainers and practitioners we can be quite isolated.

“And, of course, it’s wonderful to be recognised for the work that you’re doing.”

She originally trained with Archimedes in order to set up and run a Forest School at the primary school where she worked as a teacher.

It was so successful that it was mentioned by Ofsted as one of the best features of an ‘outstanding’ school and Jo became a licensed Archimedes trainer so that they could help train and share ideas with other schools.

However, at the same time she realised that she no longer wanted her teaching to be confined to a classroom and that she could combine her teaching experience and Forest School skills to do more with both children and adults.

She started small by running a monthly Family Forest Club at Beaumont Park where parents could come along with their children and do something fun and different.

Then, just over a year ago, she left her job in order to run Nature’s Footprints full-time.

She is now in such demand that she is in the process of setting up a social enterprise company so that she can apply for funding herself and expand her activities.