Nest in the Woods Director and Forest School Leader

Mark Redford (BEd) HONS, EYP

I graduated from the University of Greenwich in 1997 as a teacher of secondary physical education and science and spent a few years teaching in inner London in a mainstream girl’s comprehensive school, in a school for junior pupils with profound disabilities and in a pupil referral unit.  I found working with pupils who have problems with their behaviour to be both challenging and rewarding and after moving up North to Warrington I specialised in that area.


I spent seven years teaching in schools for pupils with behavioural, social and emotional difficulties. During that time I learned a lot about how children’s behaviour manifests itself because some needs are not being met and the importance of earlier life in shaping them.

In 2009 I became a childminder this changed my direction to working with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can now see how important it is to give children a good start in life as I have seen the other end of the spectrum from working with troubled teenagers.

Early in 2012 I discovered Forest School, I attended a teacher training day at Delamere Forest and was inspired further. 

I signed up for the practitioners level 3 award and completed the initial training week in August 2012 completed the assessment in August 2013.  I am a member of the Forest School Association.  I was accredited with Early Years Professional Status in July 2013.

I am currently delivering Forest School for many schools and home educated children across Warrington and Cheshire. In November 2016 we took on Adlington Woods which I now manage with a team of dedicated staff.

I am subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.

Nest in the Woods Director and Forest School Leader

Sally Cliffe(FdA)


After working with children of different ages throughout my career I feel the early years are the most important. They are the foundations for life long learning, health and behaviour. The child’s brain develops more than any other time in its life. The early years experience of things the child’s sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes, stimulates the brain creating millions of connections and shaping the adult the child will become.  I believe the forest school ethos provides a rich, stimulating and natural learning environment through a child led approach supported by experienced and caring adults therefore I have followed my dream of opening outdoor forest school preschools.

I am a qualified forest School level 3 leader. I am Paediatric first aid trained and have my outdoor first aid. I have a Foundation Degree in Early Years, an HNC, an HND and an NVQ Level 3 all in within childcare and early Years. With 25 years of experience working with children in different settings, including mainstream schools, Special Schools, Pupil Referral Unit, Special needs, after school clubs, accredited childminding and PreSchool.

I have completed a Level 3 award in Supporting Children and Young People’s speech language and Communication and thoroughly believe the outdoor environment is the best place for language development, learning speech through first hand experiences. I have attended courses on Raising Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL), Raising Early Mathematical skills, Communicating friendly spaces, Portage training, working with vulnerable 2 year olds, Understanding and Supporting Children’s Pro-Social Behaviour, Phonics, Listening as a Way of Life, Working with Vulnerable families, Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator, (SENCO), Makaton, Montessori, Domestic violence and Visual impairments (to name just a few). I have taken part in research with the National Children’s Bureau in Raising Early Mathematical Skills which is a follow on study from Raising Early literacy skills (REAL) and have most recently attending training in Yoga, social stories and sensory processing disorders and have started implementing relevant bits into our forest school sessions.

Through lockdown I have took part in lots of webinars and online learning on current issues these included mindfulness & wellbeing, PDA Pathological Demand Avoidance, Bereavement awareness, emotional regulation, supporting anxiety and PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Grappenhall Nest in the Woods Preschool opened in September 2015. In November 2016 we took on the woods at Adlington and in October 2017 we opened up our second preschool site Adlington Nest in the Woods Preschool.

I now teach forest school in a local primary school and at our Adlington Preschool site.

I am a member of the Forest School Association and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.

Nest in the Woods Manager and Forest School Leader

Gemma Shaw (BA, PGCE)

I am a qualified teacher with a degree in Linguistics and a PGCE in Primary Teaching. I have 10 years’ experience working with children in schools and Preschool as both a Teaching Assistant, Teacher and a deputy Manager at a local Preschool. As a teacher I have taught children across the primary age range from Nursery to Key stage 2. I have been able to experience first-hand the benefits of Forest School. I have watched children become more independent and self-confident whilst engaged in child-led learning. Their natural curiosity and motivation to discover and challenge themselves is clearly visible. The opportunity for learning to manage their own risk taking builds confidence and their pride in their accomplishments is evident.
The experience I have gained from being part of Forest School sessions has challenged my understanding of what high quality early years provision should look like. I have found it refreshing to work in a truly child led way with minimal additional resources needed and was immensely proud when after just 12 months of opening we gained Outstanding in all areas on our first Ofsted.
I am Level 3 forest school leader qualified, Paediatric first aid and outdoor first aid qualified and have attended courses on food safety, speech and language, tremendous two year olds, Role of SENCO, Portage training, Early language development, phonics letters and sounds, behaviour management and safeguarding.

I have recently completed Level 3 Early Years Senco Award, yoga training and a sensory processing disorder course. I have moved up to Manager of the Grappenhall setting allowing Sally to focus more on our Adlington Site.

I am a member of the Forest School Association and have subscribed to the DBS update service, please ask if you need my reference number.

Nest in the Woods Deputy Manager and Forest School Leader

Rachel Browne, BA (Hons), PGCE

I am a busy Mum to 3 boys who are all growing up way too quickly! I took several years out of my Primary Teaching career to be at home full time with the boys in their early years. I feel so fortunate to have had this time with them helping to build the foundations for their learning. Since they have all been at school I have returned to teaching on a supply basis and have worked in a number of schools locally particularly enjoying working in Early Years.

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and throughout my teaching work have strived to provide a creative and holistic approach to learning as well as aiming to learn outdoors whenever possible. In recent years I have found the space in the curriculum for this approach has restricted these opportunities and this has fed my desire to move into outdoor learning in my job. I also volunteer in Scouting and run a Beaver Scout Colony and seeing the benefits and enjoyment the children get from these experiences further encouraged me to make the decision to pursue Forest School training.

In September 2016 I started on my Forest School learning journey and after a thoroughly inspiring Initial Training Week I realised this was going to shape my future career choices. I completed my ITC Outdoor First Aid Certificate and then my Level 3 Forest School Practitioner Certificate in September 2017.

Since qualifying I have delivered Forest School sessions within schools and have continued to see the huge benefits the child-led, holistic and creative approach has for the learners. I love to watch them grow in confidence as they learn to make their own learning decisions and manage their own risks and time. I’m thrilled to join the team at Nest in the Woods allowing me to become more fully immersed in Forest School learning. I mainly work at our Adlington site in the Preschool and leading school trips in our dedicated woodland.

Outside of work and juggling the sporting calendar of our family I love to run, read and walk our dogs. We have a small woodland in Wales and also a caravan where we spend lots of time enjoying the coast. We also love to travel as a family and are enjoying exploring different parts of the world with our boys before they begin their own independent adventures!

Nest in the Woods Pre-School Assistant

Lesley Chriscoli

My best achievement to date is a being a Mum to my two fantastic children! Becoming a Mum and experiencing everything that goes with it, inspired me to become involved within the Childcare Profession. I began volunteering at my previous setting and progressed to becoming employed and undertaking a Diploma in the Children and Young Peoples Workforce.
The time I have spent working with children has helped me to understand how fantastic they are at learning through play and how a variety of experiences enhances this learning. Being involved with Forest School sessions has reinforced my belief that outdoor learning and its process can help children to learn in a new, natural way, helping to develop skills across all areas.
I am passionate about children’s learning and development and sharing their learning journey in the early years. I enjoy working with children and parents in helping them to develop speech and language through the ECAT (Every Child a Talker) programme.
I work at the Grappenhall site and am excited to be part of the Nest in the Woods team.

I have recently attended yoga training, I am completing my forest school level 1, I am paediatric first aid trained and have subscribed to the DBS update service please ask if you need my reference number.

Nest in the Woods Forest school Leader

Peter Jackson

Since graduating from a BSc Product Design in 2009 I have worked as an art workshop facilitator, and play leader for the Greater Manchester Play Resources Unit play charity and scrap store (also known as GRUMPY), as well as working as a freelance workshop facilitator and illustrator. I have attended various courses about unstructured play, having the privilege of learning from experts in children’s play, including the late Dr Stuart Lester.

Highlights included creating a float for the Manchester Day Parade, an art trail for The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, and having my illustrations featured in magazines (the weirdest of which was for an article titled “Cycling and Paganism”)!

In April 2018 I started my role at Nest in the Woods, having previously mainly worked with children aged between 5-15, I found that I really enjoy working with early years. I love a challenge, and working outdoors all year round gives plenty of opportunities for problem solving, as the children develop and the forest changes with the seasons. It’s been a great journey so far, there is never a dull day! In February 2019 I started my Level 3 Forest School Leader training, I completed just 12 months later in February 2020. I’m excited to continue my personal and professional development with Nest in the Woods. At present I’m working at the Adlington site with the home education group, school groups and nurseries. I also teach forest school in local schools in Macclesfield and Manchester.

Outside of work I do lots of camping, campervanning, eating, running, walking, and cycling, which satisfies my need for adventure. As a result of doing lots of cycling, I do lots of bike building, which satisfies my need for tinkering, my current obsession/project is fabricating a pair of cargo bikes to haul the dog and other stuff around (giving me even fewer reasons to use my car). I also continue to create illustrations, which I then sell online and at art markets.

I completed my level 3 Diploma in early years in July 2019. I’m paediatric first aid and outdoor first aid qualified and have subscribed to the DBS update service.

Nest in the Woods Pre-School Assistant

Samantha Carter

I am a mum to two wonderful very energetic boys and as a family we love being outside no matter what the weather. Both my boys attended Nest in the Woods and I have seen first hand how their confidence and independence have grown. I am a firm believer that allowing children to be outside to explore and investigate their surroundings, to take calculated risks and to take their imaginations and play where they choose leads them to becoming very well rounded individuals later on in life. Since being at Nest in the Woods Grappenhall, I have enjoyed working in a truly child led environment and am eager to see where their interests take me on a daily basis.

I am qualified in Level 3 in Children’s Learning and Development and am registered with the DBS update service.

Nest in the Woods Forest School Leader

Cara Holden

My Journey into alternative forms of education began at the age of 22 when I started my role as wool processing and felt making tutor for the Ruskin Mill Eduaction Trust. An independent higher education provision which provides student-centred approaches to holistic development for young people with complex behaviour and learning difficulties including autistic spectrum conditions. I embraced this role for 7 years until funding cuts saw a bout of redundancies. 

After redundancy, I knew I wanted to pursue a life that brought me closer to nature. I decided I wanted to develop my knowledge and interest in Permaculture and sustainable living. I found a wonderful learning center in Portugal where I lived and volunteered self sustainably for a year and a half. This experience was invaluable.  However, I still didn’t feel this fulfilled my passion for working with others, in a way that allowed me to use my skills and knowledge to encourage and engage others.  This was what brought me back to work with young people. I got a job with Blackburn and Darwen Young People’s Services working with young people, between the ages of 8 – 18years, in a youth club setting as well as working on the Targeted Youth Team engaging those considered to be “at Risk” or N.E.E.T (not in education, employment, or training).  Whilst working for the youth service I saw, in a large percentage of our young people a very negative impression and approach to education.  This was one of the driving forces behind my decision to train as a forest school practitioner.  I began to realise that if we can facilitate all of the valuable development we see through the forest school pedagogy  in our early years provisions then we may have a chance to minimize some of the struggles and challenges I saw in the teenagers I was working with.  

I qualified at a level 3 forest school practitioner in 2018 and I have never looked back! I have a Level 3 diploma in early years education and am paediatric first aid trained. I hold an enhanced DBS on the Update service.

Nest in the Woods Supply Forest School Leader

Eleanor Burt

I am known as Nellie by the kids and other staff.

After spending my childhood being home educated, and taking almost all the time outdoors with my three brothers, working and living indoors has never really made any sense for me.

My early outdoor career was as a watersports instructor, dinghy sailing and yachting, plus some canoeing and kayaking on the coast of the Isle of Wight. I have worked at a few outdoor adventure centres, and taught kayaking, archery, and ropes inland before moving to Warrington to have my daughter.

My hobbies include: climbing (its more of an obsession, and I am always trying to persuade everyone to have a go), camping, hiking, live music, walking, fibre crafts, and spoon carving.

 I have done courses in marine engineering, powerboating, basketry, art, printing, ceramics, carving, bushcraft, cobb ovens, felting, weaving, forest conservation, and always keen to learn any practical skill that might be of use in a desert island scenario. I dabbled in going to university to study Theology after my A-levels, but it wasn’t the right thing for me.
I have paediatric outdoor first aid, and will complete my forest school leader level 3 qualification in June 2020. I am a member of the Forest School Association and my DBS is on a rolling renewal.

I home educate my two children and take them to explore the woods at every opportunity, both of them have attended Nest in the Woods, when I mentioned to Sally that I would be happy to volunteer on some sessions, that was just the beginning. I had never heard of ‘forest school’ until then and just assumed it was all just playing in nature. But since starting my training and working with other amazing forest school leaders I have really understood the importance of the things I always assumed all kids had access to. Being in nature, learning about the wider world, playing games, being still, or running around taking risks, children deserve to experience all of that and I count myself very lucky that I get to share that with them.  

Nest in the Woods Supply Pre-School Assistant

Heather Glover

I love the outdoors and try to walk or run somewhere in the fresh air everyday. I also enjoy orienteering, reading, languages and travel. I help at the local Sunday School and am an Assistant Leader at the local Beavers. I am a qualified secondary teacher and worked for many years as a languages teacher: French, German and Spanish in a busy high school but once I became a parent I had a change in direction.

I have retrained in early years and have completed the Level 3 Diploma Early Years practitioner. I am paediatric first aid trained and have recently attended yoga training. I have subscribed to the DBS update service.