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Ellen Weaver

Ellen has worked with children outdoors since her teens and 20s, when she was part of a cooperative which ran community camping holidays for city kids.

Having been a solicitor in welfare, housing, discrimination and refugee law, Ellen developed her interest in social justice and particularly in children’s rights. She is concerned about the harm to children’s development caused by restrictions on children’s opportunities for free play. Ellen has a particular interest in identifying the extent to which law has been a factor in this drastic problem. She became fascinated by the reasons for variations in children’s freedoms in different countries when she lived in Germany. This gave her the chance to work with sociologists investigating the impact of urban design on childhood. Ellen is currently doing voluntary advocacy and research with Playing Out                                                                   

She was a foster parent for 10 years, caring for an emotionally disturbed boy with disabilities. Taking him out into the countryside, camping at the coast and cycling with him showed Ellen of the enormous benefits of contact with nature and outdoor activities. She became convinced that we all need time in natural settings to stay healthy- mentally and physically, and that immersion in nature is especially vital for people (young and old) coping with trauma.

While living on the edge of the Black Forest in Germany, she studied nature pedagogy at Freiburg Naturschule, and ran outdoor classes, summer schemes and children’s farm lessons. When she moved back to England in 2019, Ellen started Richard Irvine’s Forest School Leader level 3 course at Tapely Park, and completed the qualification in May 2020.   

Ellen’s voluntary work has included management of Women’s Aid refuges, community theatre projects, projects tackling homelessness, cycling campaigns and human rights legal action in Guatemala.

Ellen’s other interests include ospreys and the amazing opportunities which webcams offer  to witness eggs hatching, then huge adult birds of prey feeding their tiny chicks and later the chicks fledging.

Ellen is delighted to join the Appletree team and she’s enjoying expanding her vocabulary with new words, like chiggypig, which the Appledore children taught her soon after she arrived.

Qualifications include:

BA (Hons) Law and History

LLM International Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice

Spanish AS level A*

European Computer Driving Licence

NVQ level V Strategic Management

Diploma Naturpädagogin

Forest School leader level 3

Outdoor and Paediatric First Aid


Publications include:  Baldo Blinkert, Ellen Weaver. Residential Environment and Types of Childhood. Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 3, No. 4, 2015, pp. 258-267


From my own childhood

My mum was a big fan of children’s fun and freedom, so she didn’t fuss about mess and gave us great chances for independence, although of course that was a lot more normal then.  I grew up in London but we were lucky to have a huge copper beech tree in our garden, which I loved climbing. We had lots of pets so there was usually some excitement or other with babies or escapees. We were also really fortunate to go on holiday often to wild and lovely places like the Scotland (where my Dad’s family were from) and Austria (where my Mum’s family were from.) I think this picture was in Surrey, at a favourite spot by a river where we used to meet friends for picnics and games in the mud!