Connecting Children and Nature Network for Kent is a partnership led by Canterbury Christ Church University and open to all individuals and organisations with an interest in connecting children and young people with the natural environment. Currently supported with investment from Artswork, the South East Bridge, the Network aims are:

The Network is coordinated by a Steering Group with representatives from the following organisations.



Canterbury Christ Church University


Inspired by our Church of England foundation, the University’s mission is to pursue excellence in higher education: transforming individuals, creating knowledge, enriching communities and building a sustainable future. This mission can only be achieved through developing strong and enduring partnerships both internally and externally in the local community. 

Since 2012, the Connecting Children and Nature Network has provided a focus, both internally within Canterbury Christ Church University, and externally with individuals and organisations, for research and knowledge exchange activity.

Originally supported by CCCU’s Futures Initiative and Higher Education Innovation Funding, the Network has subsequently secured investment from Artswork and also from Kent Wildlife Trust generating a number of research outputs (link to tab 3b). This has led to the development of a new research theme group ‘ecopedagogy’ led by Alan Pagden and Nicola Kemp to support and develop this emerging area of research which is so full of potential.






EarthCraftuk Community Interest Company, is a non-profit organisation based in stunning privately owned ancient woodland between Canterbury & Faversham with their aims and objectives to firmly embed Forest School ethos and practice into the educational framework within the South East.  They share the philosophy that Nature is as important as food and sleep - we all need it to thrive!

Clair & Scott are both Level 3 Forest School Leaders.  Having spent several years building experience of providing Forest School programmes for all age/ability groups,  Clair & Scott then became Forest School Trainers and became an independent accredited center with the Open College Network offering the Forest School Association approved suite of Levels 3, 2 and 1 Forest School qualifications. 

EarthCraftuk also offer CPD opportunities for Forest School Leaders on many aspects of woodland craft, management, outdoor first aid and outdoor food safety training as well as a consultancy service for people wishing to set up their Forest School.  In conjunction with Kent County Council Outdoor Education Unit, EarthCraftuk also run the KCC Camp Fire Management Award to help and advise outdoor staff on how to manage their group camp fires safely. 

Clair is a member of the Forest School Training Network GB as well as having spent 5 years involved with Forest School in a national perspective having been on the Executive Committee/Board of Directors of the Institute for Outdoor Learning Forest School Special Interest Group and then the Forest School Association www.forestschoolassociation.org – the professional voice for Forest School.  Scott is also an advanced Bushcraft instructor and knifesmith bringing a wealth of practical knowledge and skills to enhance their Forest School provision.

EarthCraftuk also offer Forest School programmes for children, young people and adults as well as woodland family engagement projects; believing that the transformational effects of Forest School and nature based experiences should be available for all.




Kent Wildlife Trust


Kent Wildlife Trust provides children, young people and adults with a wide range of practical, enjoyable and high quality learning experiences. Through taught sessions at our Centres, or as outreach in schools, we aim to bring the curriculum to life and foster a lifelong interest in the natural environment.

With five Visitor Centres and over 60 nature reserves across Kent, a memorable outdoor learning experience with Kent Wildlife Trust is never far away.  

Our involvement in the Connecting Children and Nature Network has enabled us to develop partnerships with other organisations, to access training for our staff and volunteers and to extend our range of quality outdoor learning experiences for children and young people.






Artswork is part of a national network of Arts Council England funded organisations. Our job is to ensure all children and young people experience the richness of the arts both in and outside of school.  Artswork connects arts and cultural organisations, children and young people, families and schools across the South East of England. 

We also further enhance and strengthen the learning offer of arts and cultural organisations through increased connectivity, skills and development and knowledge exchange. 

Partnership Investment supports the development of innovative models of delivery, nurtures quality and enhances practice and partnerships across the formal and informal learning sectors.




Kent County Council


Countryside Management Partnerships (CMPs) are a suite of 9 Partnerships across Kent & Bexley. They help manage habitats and landscapes, and link communities to those areas.

CMPs provide volunteering and learning opportunities for people of all ages; site visits, talks and presentations and work with schools, youth groups and communities to deliver practical projects, access and recreation, learning and education as well as events. 

CMPs help to make the natural environment accessible, educational and most of all fun.




Manor House Nursery and Forest School


We set up and opened our Nursery school in 2008 with a clear focus on establishing ourselves as an outdoor setting. Two practitioners undertook their Level three Forest school training in 2009 and we have steadily grown, training additional staff in order to establish Beach school and community engagement.

Our first Forest school leader has now completed his Level 4 OCN accreditation in Wales in addition to his Foundation Degree in Early Years at Christ Church University. This equips him with both the knowledge skills and passion to lead training and sessions outdoors. 

In September 2014 we were privileged to win the Nursery of the Year National award, thanks in large part to the commitment of staff to give children rich experiences outdoors that give children something back; time and space to play, explore, collaborate, problem solve and get dirty!