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How We Work at Moulsecoomb Forest Garden

Specialising in outdoor education and therapeutic support for pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4 in the Brighton and Hove area

Since 2005 the Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project has been working alongside local schools, social services, pupil referral units, the youth service and other organisations, supporting young people who struggle to make progress in mainstream education to achieve their potential.

We offer a pathway for students who find it difficult to engage in mainstream education, or have experienced changes in school, life or care arrangements. Through outdoor education, backed up by mentoring and therapeutic support, we provide an opportunity to achieve, not just in the educational setting but also in personal life.

As a community project we have built strong links with local schools, local groups and local people over a number of years and are able to provide a sense of continuity, and a safe alternative to complement the school curriculum.

We are now able to offer recognised qualifications for Key Stages 3 (ages 11 to 14) and 4 (ages 14-16), and our courses cover:

  • Conservation

  • Ecology

  • Natural History

  • Bushcraft skills

  • Primitive Technology

  • Survival Skills

  • Woodland skills

  • Environmental art

  • Horticulture; and

  • Outdoor cooking


We provide a broad range of experiential learning outcomes and recognised qualifications for Key Stage 3 and 4 students, working with schools to link core curriculum subjects such as English, History, Science, Maths and Art.

For example, we recently approached plant botany through making an English long bow. From tree felling to the finished article, understanding how and where the tree grows determines whether the bow will work ... or not! The same sessions covered history, ecology and traditional carpentry skills.

Our NCFE Bushcraft Level 2 (comparable to NVQ Level 2, GCSEs A* to C and Higher Diploma) provides 80 guided learning hours, including subjects such as natural history, bushcraft and survival skills, suitable for a student who might benefit from a practical craft based course, requiring focus, determination and self-discipline.

Sessions at the Forest Garden can be tailored to meet individual or group needs. They can contribute to Duke of Edinburgh and John Muir awards, and we also offer our own bronze silver and gold awards.


A key part of our approach involves mentoring, where students build a relationship with staff, the garden and ultimately the environment. Gaining confidence and building self-esteem can lead to the ability to complete a qualification.

This process, which can be learner-led, underpins the student’s sense of wellbeing and overall positive learning experience. It depends on a holistic overview, close communication with schools, key workers, parents and carers, with regular hand over and feedback of information, along with progress reports of individual aims and objectives.


Responsibility, trust and eventually leadership play a big role in personal development. We have found that engaging students in physical, experiential and creative activities inspired by the natural world can have profound effect on self-development: building motivation, confidence and self-esteem, while reducing anxiety.

The outside world can provide learning opportunities in areas such as mechanical comprehension, problem solving and spatial awareness.

Using a therapeutic approach, these experiences and skills are transferable and can be integrated into other areas of life. In our experience applying this process and creating a safe space helps students to become more settled, both in school and at home.

Our therapeutic process engages young people diagnosed with learning difficulties such as Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Dyslexia and ADHD; who have had challenges in life, or who might have behavioural or mental health issues.


  • OCN Entry level award in basic Woodland Skills – equivalent to a Duke Of Edinburgh bronze award

  • OCN level 1 in Woodland Skills – comparable to GCSEs D-G and Foundation Diploma

  • Bushcraft level 1 award accredited by the NCFE – equivalent to NVQ level 1

  • Bushcraft level 2 award accredited by the NCFE – comparable NVQ Level 2, GCSEs A* to C and Higher Diploma


Our qualified trainers are Pat Beach and Philip Brooke


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