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Meet The Team

The team at Inside Out are trained Level 3 Forest School practitioners, trained first aiders, carry enhanced level DBS checks and are trained risk/benefit assessors. Between us we have over 100 years of experience of working with young people.

Minimising and controlling risk and demonstrating ‘best-practise’ throughout our sessions. Inside Out holds a £5 million public liability insurance. This makes us and our programmes as safe as they can be.


Esther – Founder of Inside Out/ Forest school leader
Qualified Level 3 FS Creative Outdoor Practicioner 

I was very privileged to grow up with a small wood as my back garden. My childhood was spent tree climbing, den building, playing man hunt and spending more time outdoors than in. I realise now how lucky I was to experience that sense of freedom and adventure. It has seemed a very natural process for me to now go from over 15 years’ experience of inspiring creativity in the classroom as a Design and Technology teacher to take my skills and love of teaching into the great outdoors. Training to be a Level 3 Forest School Leader has been one of the most incredible journeys and experiences I’ve ever taken, I’m so glad I took the plunge and I hope that Inside Out provides a fun and empowering experience for the young people I work with. I also hold a post-graduate certificate in Autistic Spectrum Conditions.

Esther has travelled extensively, having had many a jungle adventure in far flung corners of the globe, though her favourite country is Australia, where she lived for over a year, for its diverse geography and friendliness. A prominent member of the Glossop community, when Esther's not whittling a bow and arrow or building a bug house, you may well see her rushing around after her 3 young children. Her favourite tool is her sheaf knife.

Polly Anderson

I’ve always loved being outdoors and had childhood hobbies that reflected this. We regularly went walking as a family. I was a member of “woodcraft folk” as a small child and loved camping with my brothers. My Dad and I sailed every weekend on the river in York and had an annual pilgrimage to the Lake District to sail on Ulswater and camp. I joined Venture Scouts as a teenager and that opened many doors for me.

Through my involvement in Venture scouts I started helping on a camp for disadvantaged boys in North Yorkshire called Active8. We’d go each summer and take approximately 12 – 15 boys who were referred to us by social workers on a week-long activity camp. Activities were things like kayaking, climbing, raft building and bush craft. I loved it and made lifelong friends among the other leaders.

Once I got to University in Edinburgh I joined a student run charity called Children’s Holiday Venture. One evening each week we’d drive round in our minibus and collect children from the deprived estates around the outskirts of Edinburgh and take them swimming and doing other activities outdoors when the Scottish weather allowed! I loved building a good rapport with the kids we worked with and seeing them benefit so much from the weekly meets and the annual camps we took them on.

As I’d enjoyed working with children so much throughout my teens and early twenties when I graduated (my degree is in Zoology!) I started work with a company called Explore Learning. We run a network of maths and English tuition centres for children aiming to build confidence and help children enjoy learning. I ran two different centres over my first four years with Explore and loved meeting children from different backgrounds and really getting to know families and supporting them through the education journey. I still work for Explore Learning 11 years on but now work in the property department and really miss working with children and families.

I was also a leader at 3rd Glossop Scouts for 5 years and loved all the outdoor time on camps and regular meetings. I think a lot of my scouting skills can be used for Forest School. We did lots of fire building and backwoods cooking and building shelters in the woods. I can’t wait to get to know some of the children at inside out forest school and start learning with them!

Sophia Walker

I have knowledge and experience in activities such as, climbing (level 3 NICAS, national indoor climbing awards scheme) and hiking (silver DofE). I am currently training for CWAA (climbing wall and abseiling award), CWLA (climbing wall leading award) as well as my Hill and Mooreland Leadership Award, and bush craft.

Over the past 3 years I have also worked with children of all ages at a climbing centre, day care centre, Dinting Beaver Scouts and at a SEN school in Buxton. I have started working with Inside Out Forest School because it gives children the chance to enjoy the outdoors and develop a love for adventure just as I have. It also fits perfectly with my studies at the University of Derby, where I am doing my bachelor’s degree in Leadership of Outdoor Adventurous Activities. Throughout the course we learn how to produce the best session for people of different ages and abilities in activities such as climbing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, caving, bush craft and more.

My main passions are bush craft, climbing, caving and hiking. However, I keep expanding my skills and interests and have experience in canoeing, archery, and kayaking. I wish to use what I have learnt to help others enjoy the outdoors and these activities.

Simon Holmes

Simon started his Forest School Journey in 2014 when he started to volunteer at Duke of Norfolk Primary school in Glossop with their FS sessions. He was already working in the school as a volunteer Teaching assistant from 2013. In 2015 he became a paid TA and now works as an Earlybirds supervisor as well as being a midday supervisor (yes that's a male dinner lady). His hobbies are reading, playing computer games and art. I have seen some of his paintings and I can tell you, he is very talented…. They are VERY good indeed, maybe we’ll get him to paint the view overlooking Glossop from our base camp? He is first aid trained as well as having a level 3 diploma in Supporting in teaching and learning in schools. Simon has a 10 year old daughter Molly-Anne and will be joining us most days at camp.

Kate Metcalfe

I started at Forest School in 2019 after both my children attended sessions. I was so inspired by the activities and skills they learnt.I currently work as a TA in Reception which is a great job that I love. An area I am passionate about is building confidence in children and I believe there are so many opportunities to do this at Forest School. I have two children and as a family we spend as much time as possible outdoors and keeping active. I am a keen trail runner and I am part of Glossop Triathlon Club. I really enjoy working at Forest School and getting stuck into all the activities, I also like seeing some familiar faces from school.

Sarah Bloomer

I've been fortunate enough to be involved with Inside Out from the beginning as the organisation's copywriter, as well as enjoying many days at the different Forest School sessions, summer and Easter camps with my children. I love the freedom that outdoor learning offers children, it's wonderful to see how eager they are to explore the forest, and how captivated they are when their curiousity leads them to discover something new about nature, or themselves. I have previously worked in performing arts education and primary and early years literacy learning through outdoor story trails. I am a fully qualified Level 2 British sign language Communicator.

Emma Proctor

I started volunteering at Inside Out Forest School in 2019 when I was considering a career change. I had spent years sitting behind a desk from 9-5 and wanted a job which better suited my active personality.

I had previously worked in a nursery and wanted to return to working with children, so I volunteered to help out at the holiday camp in Glossop. Since then, I have qualified as a children's yoga teacher and have been back to the holiday camps in 2020 to teach yoga to the children. I have seen how the children love the sessions and am a big advocate of the benefits of time spent outdoors, in nature.

I am now involved with running the Little Explorers and Babes in the Wood sessions and am very excited to start Forest Yoga sessions for children from March 2021 at Inside Out's forest school site in Marple.

Steff Bendall

2019 is my first year at Forest School. I think it’s such a great concept as many children don’t explore woods and realise what a wealth of fun and learning they hold. Being outside is so good for well-being and the woods allow creativity and imagination, so important in childhood. I work in additional needs and have been a teaching assistant for 12 years working with pre-school right up to 13 years. I have 3 children and 2 young grandchildren. I love animals and have had many different pets and support a donkey rescue centre in Israel. I love running and being active as well as spending time with my family.

Trudy – Assistant leader
Qualified Level 3 Forest School Practitioner

I've always been the outdoorsy type! Whether being on my Grandad’s huge allotment, looking after the chickens or up at the farm with my ponies, or in Wales on my family’s smallholding. In 1996, I started working as a kitchen designer, loving the process and having a flair for things being in the right place! I specialized in Kosher kitchens and designing kitchens for the disabled to help them keep their independence. Now a mum of two girls aged 11 and 12, who have a rare genetic disease, I gave up work to care for them. Four years ago, I started helping out as a parent volunteer at Duke of Norfolk Primary School helping in their Forest School sessions. I loved being back outdoors again, and I saw the huge benefits that Forest School had on the children. In 2016, I was encouraged by the leader to take my Forest School level 3 training. One day I hope to have my own early years Forest School in Anglesey, Wales where we can enjoy beach schools too! My favourite tool is my beautiful Robin Wood axe I use to split wood and make kindling.

Natalie Blakeman (Leek)

My love of nature and the outdoors started at a very early age. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve building dens, playing in the brook and exploring the farms that my Dad took me to. Even though I have travelled the world and lived in many different places, the Staffordshire Moorlands is my home and where my husband and I have chosen to raise our 2 sons and our Border Terrier dog!

I was first introduced to Inside Out Forest School when I was looking for a play group for my son. We trekked off to Pickwood Woods when he was just 18 months old. He is now nearly 4 and we are still going along to Little Explorers and enjoying it more than ever

I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the team here and to help other parents/ carers make lots of special memories with their children, just as I have with mine. Along with nature and the outdoors, Natalie's other passion is Yoga. She has 8 years experience leading classes in Hatha, Meditation, Pregnancy Yoga, Mum and Baby Yoga and Baby Massage. She is qualified with The CYF, Yoga Campus Manchester, Birthlight London and To Baby and Beyond. Natalie holds a First Class Hons Degree in Fashion, which is where the creative side comes in!

Emma Swann

I came into Environmental Education and Play and then to Forest School by doing what I enjoy and seeing where it took me. It took me to trees and children! I have always loved being outdoors and learning about the plants, trees and animals. I have lost hours to building dens, climbing trees, playing in streams and toasting lots of things on fires.

I’ve worked in a variety of Environmental Education roles for over 20 years from a residential outdoor centre, to schools, gardening clubs, child-led free-play sessions and of course Forest School.

I hold a degree in Environmental Sciences and have added to that a Level 3 Forest School Leader and Level 3 Playwork qualification amongst others.

I worked for a conservation charity for several years and learnt traditional skills such as hedgelaying, green woodworking, dry stone walling and woodland management. I have also done a lot of bushcraft so am no stranger to fire lighting, shelter building, foraging and spoon carving.

I’ve seen for myself the benefits that connecting people to their environment, through working and playing outdoors, can bring to both the individuals and the wider community and I love being a part of it and enabling it to happen.

When I’m not in the woods you’ll find me in the hills, hiking, running, camping, swimming or even just brewing up and enjoying the views.

Emma Hookey

Hi, I’m Emma, Mum to two kids aged 21 and 10, a primary school teacher, forest school leader and a fan of all things that involve campfire cooking – especially making jam! I grew up in a village where my best friend lived across the fields and so would happily walk the 4km to her house or more often meet in the middle to play in the stream. We often returned home hungry and muddy but with lots of tales to tell.

As a family we moved to Switzerland in 2005, where I taught 2-5 year olds at an international school. After having my daughter in 2012, I felt I needed a change of direction and came across Forest School. Within hours of starting the course I could see the incredible opportunities that this held for people of all ages – I was hooked!

I set up my own English speaking forest school playgroup and my Swiss neighbours who are farmers would often comment that I was mad running and dancing around in the rain/snow/wind with small children. The children and I meanwhile were having a great time. I love learning about nature and all that it has to offer and my aim is to ignite this passion for learning and understanding to both the children and adults that I work with.

In 2017 I was fortunate enough to spend a week in the Sussex woodlands with the inspirational Ray Mears, participating in an Ancestral Survival Skills course with him and his team. This took me right outside of my comfort zone, but I learned so much that I am now looking to do more courses with his company next year. It wasn’t only practical skills I learned, but being “off grid” for an entire 7 days was incredibly valuable for my mental health. I now plan in one 24 hours a month where I am away from technology – it is hard to leave the phone/TV/ laptop behind..but I am finding it is well worth it.

When I’m not at Forest School you can find me off on adventures in our Volkswagen Campervan “Ruby”, sitting outside with a snack, meal or treat made on the campfire – or foraging for cook over the campfire!

Eleanor Duckworth

I grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and enjoyed a very wild childhood romping on the moors, making dens, building fires and searching for treasure with my sieve and metal detector. I also discovered a love of water from early on, leading to adventures in windsurfing on windy Yorkshire reservoirs and surfing on the Devon coast later in life.

Devon is where I completed a PGCE in Primary Education and I discovered my real passion was teaching in the realm of Special Educational Needs – I loved the small classes, sensory hands on experiential learning and child-centred approach in these schools.

I also spent some time out in Devon ‘WWOOFing’ - ‘World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms’. I visited, stayed and worked in various off grid communities, assisted with environmental education projects and learnt about organic farming practices.

On returning North I continued to work as an SEN teacher and here is where I discovered Forest School – wow, what an amazing thing to exist! I trained and set up an accessible inclusive forest school for young people with severe and profound learning difficulties at Heaton School in Stockport. This was an amazing experience – and brought a new calm space to the school that all students could utilise.

Working part time at Heaton School enabled me to develop my freelance forest school practise too – and I’ve spent several years working with early years groups and the Home Ed community with the Skylarks Team at Lyme Park, before taking a break to be a mum.

Now ready to return to work, I love the idea of working in and for my local community – in and around Glossop and am I really excited to start my adventure with Esther and the team at Inside Out Forest School.