Nursery group, Back to the Garden Childcare, is underlining its commitment to a new forest schools-based approach with the appointment of a dedicated forest schools leader.

Outdoor enthusiast and all-round gardening expert Mark Wallis from Sale, Greater Manchester, joins the nursery on a permanent basis to deliver an exciting and engaging new curriculum based around hands-on learning experiences in the nursery’s beautiful garden complemented by visits to local parks, woodland and green spaces.

In addition to daily forest school sessions, Mark will be responsible for looking after the garden, helping the children learn about the day-to-day watering and care of the plants, herbs and vegetables.  He will also assist with teaching woodwork in the woodworking shed.

He is delighted to have been approached to implement the new forest school sessions and is looking forward to involving the children in many different outdoor learning experiences.

He said: “For the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of looking after the glorious outside space at Back to the Garden in Broadheath as a self-employed gardening contractor and I can see how much it is loved and used by the children on a daily basis.

“Implementing the new forest schools approach was an opportunity too good to miss and it feels like the natural next step for me to join the team on a permanent basis.  I’ve always felt part of the Back to the Garden family as my wife is a unit leader at the nursery.  She has been there since the start and I know much she loves it.”

Forest schools is a specialised learning approach with many recognised benefits including opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning and exploration experiences in natural outdoor settings including gardens or woodlands with trees.

Founder at Back to the Garden, Jeannie Pickering, added: “Organic child-led learning in the great outdoors has always been very firmly at the heart of our ethos at Back to the Garden. Our children already enjoy a natural approach based around spending as much time as possible within nature and we aim to formalise this further with a commitment forest schools and outdoor learning on an ongoing basis.  Our children really respond to this approach and its wonderful seeing their development.”

With a second site currently under construction on Whitbarrow Road in Lymm, Cheshire, Mark will also be involved in the garden design, landscaping and planting of the new nursery and, once open, he will split his time between the two delivering forest schools in both locations.

A self-employed gardener for the last 15 years, Mark lives in Sale with his wife and two children.  To help reduce his personal impact on the environment, he now cycles to work. When not working, he enjoys a 5k Saturday park run, running his local Cub Scout group, walking his Labrador and following Sale Sharks rugby team.

Based in Altrincham and coming soon to Lymm, Back to the Garden is an innovative child-led day nursery that focuses on active learning through outdoor play in a stunning garden setting.  Its philosophy of allowing children to be children to explore their environment, experiment with the outdoor playscape and harness their own imaginations allows for a natural approach where each child develops at their own pace.