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  • Plant Identification for Wild food and Medicine

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    16 21 July 2017

    Plant identification for wild foods and Medicine

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Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership - NCFE IIQ Level 4


After 15 years of training bushcraft instructors we have decided to step away from this course to focus our efforts on specific areas of the subject especially wildlife, tracking and ethnobotany as well as favourite courses such as the Advanced Award and Bow making. 

For those of you who don't know him Phil Brooke has been trained exclusively by us for several years and he has worked with us on the instructor course and many other programmes. Phil will now be running the Certificate of Bushcraft Leadership completely independently. He is a great practioner of the subject and we are confident that he will be delivering a product equal in quality to the Woodcraft School programme. Woodcraft School will have no affiliation or attachment to this course after the 2016/17 cohort finishing in June. With that in mind please contact Phil Brooke with any enquiries you may have regarding the 2017/18 intake. Further details of the programme can be found here


Woodcraft School were the first company in the country to offer an accredited course designed specifically for bushcraft instructors in the UK. Our programme of study is very in-depth and comprehensive and is dedicated to teaching trainee instructors both bushcraft techniques and how to deliver them.

You will not attend a raft of courses alongside the general public nor will you be expected to teach our courses on our behalf and pay for the privilege, instead, each of your sessions are dedicated solely to the development of first class bushcraft teachers and trainers and are attended only by such people. The outside groups we bring in to help develop your teaching skills do not pay us for the tuition. They are selected from groups within the local community who might otherwise struggle to attend a bushcraft course. This selection is designed to give you the best possible range of teaching experience and typically includes youth groups, mixes of children and adults and adult only groups. The range of experience within these are vast from countryside professionals to complete novices so your need to adapt enhances the learning process and gives you a wide range of skills and activities to draw on in the future. Trainee instructors are given the task of planning, preparing and delivering these sessions in their own style and with their own emphasis, we are not in the business of producing Woodcraft School clones who teach exactly what we teach, in the way that we teach it.

Upon completing the instructor course if students feel that they want to see Woodcraft School courses in action, we offer a volunteer placement where in return for helping with the cooking and preparation etc there is an opportunity to see firsthand life on the other side of the fence. This is free of charge, in fact we offer some travel expenses. Volunteers oftrn have a chance to experience our other courses and events as a reward for their input and assistance

Course Content

Tool design, safe tool use and selection, carving techniques, use of axe, tree felling with hand tools (axes), cleaving and conversion of timber, bow design and construction, atlatls, introduction to flint knapping, primitive glues, bark work, arrow making and fletching, cordage, net making, ropes knots and lashings, natural shelters, modern shelters, effects of heat and cold, clothing, backcountry cooking techniques, game preparation, winter twig identification, tree and plant identification, poisonous plants, wild food, basic fungi identification, coastal plants and seaweeds, using identification keys, uses of plants and trees, habitats, woodland management for recreation and conservation, natural navigation techniques, hazard tree recognition, risk assessment, codes of conduct, legislation for outdoor practitioners, teaching and learning theory, lesson planning and delivery, animal track and sign recognition, introduction to animal trailing, finding and making water safe, effects of dehydration, fire lighting and management, bow drill, hand drill, natural and manmade tinder.

Students also bring their own areas of expertise to the course and you may experience a wealth of other subjects than those listed, delivered by your peers during some of our teaching practice sessions.


Selection is interview based. Once we have processed your enquiry (see form below) then you will most probably be invited for interview:


The cost is of this course is £3200.00 which can be spread over monthy payments

Max course size is 12

Dates for the 2016 - 2017 Course

Module Dates

  • 28th Sept - 2nd Oct
  • 19th Oct – 23rd Oct
  • 23rd Nov – 27th Nov
  • 14th Dec – 18th Dec
  • 25th Jan - 29th Jan
  • 15th Feb – 19th Feb
  • 15th Mar – 19th Mar
  • 26th Apr – 30th Apr
  • 24th May – 28th May
  • 21st Jun – 25th Jun

Course Reviews

Paul Jennings

March 2016 - Woodcraft School

I've always loved the outdoors but came into bushcraft after retirement. Wishing to upgrade my skill base and knowledge, to assist me in my capacity as an instructor with my then employer, I enrolled on John's course. I've always disliked studying and therefore approached the course with some misgivings. 1. Could I remain disciplined in my studies? 2. Would I fall behind? 3 Would I remain motivated to "stay the course?" 4 Would I be eaten by wolves? I needn't have worried on all counts (there are no wolves in West Sussex, a fact I learned early on in the course). The programme is designed to ease you into what is a challenging and yet rewarding experience. The curriculum is mostly practical based with John and the then chief instructor, Phil Brooke, imparting their impressive knowledge with true professionalism, patience and total lack of ego . John is a true master in all aspects of this extremely diverse subject. Yes, at times I felt under real pressure, yes I got annoyed at myself, the weather, the commitment, to name but three. But the overall feeling was one of enjoyment, camaraderie and amazement at what we all learned. The course gave me such confidence and upped my skill levels and knowledge to heights I never imagined. This has helped me both in the bushcraft environment but also in the way I look at the world around me in general. I cannot praise this course highly enough and recommend anyone wishing to improve their relevant skills to enrol. You will not regret it and I guarantee you will make some lasting friendships/contacts along the way.  

Simon Underwood

Jan 2016 - Woodcraft School

I hope I can do the Level 4 Instructors Course justice in my review, I hope by reading this if you are undecided it will inspire you to take the next step and sign up. If you are serious about learning wilderness skills and understanding the natural world around you, then this is the platform from which to do it. When I signed up for the course I had no idea of the scale of the journey on which I was embarking, I learnt so much I could never mention it all here in one review. I learnt so much about myself over the course of the ‘Academic Year’. Spending so much time outside through all seasons creates such a great learning curve, with like minded people it creates opportunity to witness first hand the ups and downs, the highs and lows of living outside. It helps you very quickly focus on getting things right and honing skills that will keep you dry, warm and comfortable.  

In our modern world people often look to the past and say look how far we've come and that is true to say in regards to technology. However the thing that became more and more apparent to me throughout the leadership course is that the skills that our ancestors had were far greater then we commonly possess today and in most cases could even conceive.

We rely heavily on technology for just about everything and have evolved using different materials and machines. Of course technology rightly has its place and we can do many, many more amazing things with such technology. The point I'm really trying to make that has become apparent to me throughout my time on the leadership course is such skills and knowledge is massively under achieved, under estimated and under possessed; often people think of our ancestors as not being as evolved, not being as intelligent, and not being as skilled as we are today when in fact nothing could be further from the truth when we look at their skill sets and their knowledge and how they were able to achieve such things without machines and without technology. One can only draw but one conclusion and that is that they where in fact highly skilled and highly evolved and overcame all the obstacles without relying on technology and machinery to a far greater degree than we do today. 

To highlight but one example of how different skill and knowledge sets come into to the whole Bushcraft arena, if you don't know how to fell a tree? how are you going to harvest a stave for a bow? if you don't know how to use your axe correctly and safely how are you going to split the tree once it's felled? This is where Bushcraft subjects fascinate me because everything is like a matrix it all has its place and interlinks and everything ultimately is intrinsically linked to an overall bigger picture. 

The leadership Level 4 is of course not just about learning new skills or even being really good at them, as anyone who has seen one of my spoon carvings will tell you! It is about having the knowledge and enough skill to go through the process competently and correctly. It is about the journey into many different areas and importantly learning how to take others on the journey with you to teach and pass on that knowledge that will keep them safe and enjoying the ‘Great Outdoors’.

Don’t be put off by anything….  Some common worries;

Living outside ~ you can only truly teach through experience!

Cold weather ~ Are you serious about being an instructor??…… Put another jumper on!

Learning Latin ~ you’ll love it…. trust me everyone worried…. We all ended up loving it

Lacking in Confidence ~ it will grow every day you’re on the course trust me! On a serious note do not underestimate how good for you this course will be, the woods are a great balancer and a therapeutic place to be and if you’re considering this course as a serious outdoors person, you won’t need me to tell you that anyway!I sincerely had the most amazing year, with the most amazing peer group, with the most amazing teachers, John and Phil. Would I do it all again?..... Yes in heartbeat!!     

Naomi Walmsley

Sept 2015 2015 - Woodcraft School

I signed up to the NCFE year long course thinking I understood the intense year ahead. I had no idea! But through all the studying, the tests, the gale force winds and wild weathers I have to say it was one of the best adventures I've had. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from such a knowledgeable teacher like John, I loved getting my brain working again, filling my brain with precious knowledge I'm sure once known! I did have some moments wondering if I could really do it, If I was really cut out for 'all this' Turns out..I am. What a brilliant course! I find myself so much more confident in what I teach and what I know. I wouldn't trade it in now for the world. I met some great people, experienced the woods through all the seasons, made some amazing crafts (my Bow!!!!) and learned some incredibly valuable whats next!? I urge all who want to teach in this area to do John Rhyders Course. 

Naomi runs Outback 2 Basics with her partner Dan

Carl Alsop

Sept 2015 - Woodcraft School

I am writing this review  to Woodcraft School, in particular to John Rhyder and Phil Brooke two of the most talented bushcrafters i have ever met.I honestly thought when i started this course that i was out of my depth and believe me i was, i had a major problem with public speaking but with the experience of John and Phil things made sense. I feel now that i can do anything. There is no feeling better than watching kids (and adults) walk away from you having learnt something. This course is not just about being able to light a fire when you are cold, it is about learning new living skills and bringing out the best in you, it teaches you everything about eco systems, sustainability,  and learning to not just respect your environment but to respect the people around you. (One year ago i didnt know why anyone would want to use that last sentence ). There are subjects that you will struggle with but everybody uses all there experiences to help you through, i ve made some good friends for life on this course and i owe a lot of people a lot of thank yous but this one is for John Rhyder and Phil Brooke and all the team at Woodcraft School. Thank you. This course will change your life for the better, it has mine.

Carl runs Mintaka Bushcraft 

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