Inspiring the Forest

The whole Inspiring Forest (IF) project is a major undertaking to create medium and long term change in the District. It will require significant funding if the full project is going to be delivered. IF addresses issues and needs raised in Education & Skills Sub-group discussions of:

  1. Raising aspirations amongst the young, parents and generally across the Forest of Dean.
  2. Raising awareness of the businesses in the District and of the types of jobs available.
  3. Increasing awareness of the skills required for jobs locally at all levels from apprentices to managers.
  4. Creating closer links between schools/colleges/universities and business organisationally and individually.
  5. Reducing youth disaffection by applying the 4 business touch principles within mainstream education. (Those who have met business 4 times in school career are 80+% more likely to continue in rewarding training/work career)
  6. Reducing difficulties around arranging work experience and other business-school engagements required by best practice. And going beyond the minimum required.
  7. Engaging the young person’s voice and views of those who live in the district.
  8. Raising awareness of B2B potential & assisting businesses manage their talent pipeline.

The Big IF Project

The full project aims to hold a 3-year rotating programme of inspirational events celebrating the strength and diversity of District business and showcasing the skills and opportunities available for young people within these businesses and sectors. This will enable individuals to consider a full range of employment opportunities available. The events focus on the key diverse employment sectors identified in the District.

District Inspiring Forest Festival (DIFF)

District-wide Festival of businesses and skills, hosted by a tertiary provider or warehouse business, with a suitably large space. This is a day-long event targeting any student and adult. The space is organised into 10 key business sectors for the District. These are Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing; Professional, Scientific & Technical; Construction; Business Admin & Support; Manufacturing; Retail; Arts & Entertainment; Recreation, Accommodation & Food Services (aka tourism); Information & Communication; and Transport, Storage & Logistics. Businesses in each sector encouraged to work together to provide:

Experience-based activities that reflect the core skills needed in the sector regardless of size of company.

Inspirational information about opportunities and pathways in a sector.

Information on the size and nature of the sector in the District and where in the world it serves.

Recognition that the Festival is the start of many conversations so planning and systems to be able to take each forward in sensible timescales.

The DIFF in the full project builds upon the LIFEs run through the year. One sector might be involved in 2/3 LIFEs and the DIFF or just the DIFF.

Local Inspiring Forest Events (LIFE).

Hosted by secondary schools with typically with invitations out to their feeder primary schools. These are smaller scale, but organised on the same principles as DIFF. They use more local businesses to the school and within the school community. As with DIFFs, the emphasis is upon activity and engagement not a table and leaflets. Targets are students within the school and junior schools. We’re looking for c4/5 sectors at each LIFE as space is smaller in each school, while still retaining impact.

What Inspiring Forest (What IF).

This is a branded single company visit to a school. It only works if there is funding for both DIFF and LIFE as it is a coordinator role. This facilitates safeguarded engagement focused around core skills (educational and business).


With limited funding to:

Deliver a prototype Local IF Event at Dene Magna School on 30th March 2020 with participation of all year students and the wider school community. 850 DM students. 50 businesses engaged

Deliver further LIFEs at other district secondary schools to develop the format and concept. 2 more schools in 2020.

With increased funding:

Engage at least once the 4250 secondary and 6000 primary students in the district.

Invite participation from the 10 Ofsted assessed secondary provision in the District to host individual Local IF Events. Maximum 4 pa.

Invite fuller participation in DIFF from students of Hartpury, Gloucestershire College and University of Gloucestershire and students of other institutions resident in the district.

Encourage fuller participation from the non-student population of the district.

Deliver What IF with the 50 primary school provisions in the District based on 1 event per school per year.

Engage over 500+ businesses of 4,000 in the district across all business sectors to consider participation in the programme.