Jill Purves – Our Founder
Jill founded Trees & Seas in late 2019.
Having always had a passion for the outdoors, Jill recognised early in her career the benefit outdoor learning and play can have on child’s development and mental health. After gaining her Forest School and Beach School qualifications, and while working on various outdoor learning projects in Edinburgh, Jill decided to go it alone and help her local community to connect with nature. Jill is a trained and registered Therapeutic Forest Practitioner which provides her with the skills and expertise to support children and young people with Additional Support Needs. Jill is an advocate of child-led free play and learning, and has attended many workshops and courses to further her knowledge and skills. Jill has recently started a new course to gain insights and develop therapeutic skills for adults mental health and wellbeing outdoors. In addition to gaining this Certificate Jill will also gain a licence to deliver ‘Woodcraft for Wellbeing’ sessions with groups of young people and adults.
Leads the Craigmillar site team.
With a background in ecology and a Forest School Leader qualification, Stephanie has more than 25 years’ experience working with children and adults in outdoor settings. She is also a qualified teacher who has worked in conservation as a countryside ranger, in community education and as an environmental artist. Steph is a trained Therapeutic Forest Practitioner and a Beach School Leader, and has an outdoor first aid certificate. Recently, she helped to set up and run the Forest and Outdoor Learning Award for forest school leaders at Newbattle Abbey College. Her support, experience and knowledge are invaluable to our team.
Craigmillar site team member.
A skilled Forest School practitioner who specialises in supporting children and young people with additional support needs and neurodiverse conditions, Leanne brings 20 years of experience working with young people. She supports them to reach their full potential using a variety of communication strategies helping overcome social difficulties. She has a love of nature and nature play, and recently Trees and Seas helped her achieve her Forest School qualification. Leanne connects deeply with non-verbal children by giving them the time and space to communicate in their preferred way. She also has the ability to create calm activities when children need extra support to regulate their emotions. She achieves this using calming instruments and mindfulness techniques.
Gracemount site team member.
Graham has been an Early Years Officer at Edinburgh City Council for the past 14 years. He is passionate about supporting children, families and communities to enjoy the best outdoor play experiences by encouraging them to explore their local green and blue spaces. Graham has always loved the outdoors, climbing, cycling, walking or simply relaxing and listening to the birds. He brings energy and enthusiasm to the sessions and the children and young people love his fun nature.
Gracemount site team member
Rita is an experienced language teacher fluent in four languages. She currently teaches French within the local authority High Schools. Rita joined the Trees and Seas team as a Forest School Assistant. She has a real passion not just for teaching and developing interesting outdoor activities, but also for teaching French outdoors. She adores trail running, hiking, camping, and exploring hidden gems of Scotland. Rita will be hosting Hungarian Forest Family sessions once a month to support and encourage Hungarian culture. She will be training to be a forest school leader soon.
Floating forest and nature play assistant – all sites
Ali is a trained biologist and conservationist. She has completed her Forest School Assistant qualification. Ali has experience working for several large conservation charities in an educational role, mainly delivering outdoor education sessions to primary school children. Additionally, she has worked as a scout leader for the last 4 years. Her gentle, kind and nurturing way with the children are essential for supporting children in the under 5 group.
Floating holiday club assistant – all sites
Tiegan is training to be a Forest School Assistant and Early Years Practitioner. Tiegan has been involved with Trees and Seas from the start. Her natural ability to connect and work with children was soon recognised and like Leanne, we are helping her to achieve the Forest School qualification.
Craigmillar site volunteer
Deirdre is a retired nursery teacher and has been volunteering with Trees and Seas for over a year. She has a Froebel in Childhood Practice Course qualification from Edinburgh University. Deirdre has been encouraging children to self-direct in nature through open ended play – putting Froebel’s theories into practice. She has a natural empathy with the children.
As some of the children transition to high school and reach the upper age limit for the Forest group, they want to continue attending sessions by helping and supporting the younger children as young leaders. This is a new evolving role with great potential. These future young leaders have gained so many new skills which can be passed-on to new children attending.
My children have been attending trees and seas forest school sessions for just over 2 years. It has brought so many positives to our lives, and I think helped them negotiate all the uncertainty at the moment. In addition to self-confidence, I have seen some lovely friendships develop. Both enjoy all the crafting and creative activities. Most of all there is a real passion for the outdoors, nature and wildlife. As a family we get out in all weathers and the children run mini trees and seas sessions with us.
We have have also attended the holiday beach school sessions which have been a real hit with my water babies.
I can’t thank Jill, Steph, Leanne and the rest of the team enough for for all they have done for us.