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Head of Recreation and Engagement (West Forest District)

  • Public sector
  • 09/07/2024
  • £45,260.00 - £49,062.00 /yearly
  • Full Time & Permanent

Job Overview

Job Type

Full Time & Permanent


£45,260 - £49,062 yearly

Date Posted:


Expiration date:


Additional Detail

Job ID


Job Description

Bank House, Bank Street, Coleford, Gloucestershire. GL16 8BA or Haldon Forest Office, Bullers Hill, Exeter, Devon. EX6 7XR.

Job summary

This is an exciting opportunity to join Forestry England, to lead the planning and delivery of our visitor services and people engagement activities in the west and south-west of England.  The Head of Recreation & Engagement is a critically important member of West District's senior leadership team and is responsible for the leadership of the visitor services, community and engagement teams.  The post-holder has lead responsibility for both expanding our visitor services business, and improving efficiency in service delivery whilst ensuring our visitors enjoy high quality experiences in our woods and forests, connecting with the natural world and improving health outcomes.  The role also leads on determining and delivering our communication strategy, both internally and externally as we seek to tell our story, the story of sustainable forestry, as we tackle the twin challenges of climate change and the biodiversity crisis.  The Head of Recreation and Engagement has shared responsibility for promoting a safety first culture across our direct team as well as our much wider network of contractors, partners and volunteers.  The post-holder will lead on the subject of visitor safety, ensuring robust and effective systems are in place for the safety of everyone, and that emergency plans are in place and effective.

West Forest District is responsible for the sustainable management of over 37,500ha of woods, forests and other land in the west and south-west of England.  The district's woods are diverse and geographically dispersed from Shropshire in the north to Wiltshire in the east and Cornwall in the far south-west.  Our primary visitor destinations are our Forest Centres: 

  • Cardinham Woods (Bodmin, Cornwall)
  • Haldon Forest Park (Exeter, Devon)
  • Forest of Dean (Coleford, Gloucestershire)
  • The Wyre Forest (Bewdley, Worcestershire), and
  • Haughmond Hill (Shrewsbury, Shropshire). 

Whilst our visitor services are focused on our Forest Centres, the majority of our woods and forests are open to public access on foot, by bike and horse-back.  We host thousands of events each year through our permissions system, from regular saturday morning Parkruns to annual motor sport events, as well as more commercial activities such as filming.  Forestry England woods are for People, for Wildlife, for Timber and the Economy.  

The Head of Recreation and Engagement will directly line manage the Operations Manager for Recreation, the Operations Manager for Engagement and the three Area Managers (south-west, Dean, and north).

Job description

The Head of Recreation and Engagement is a key member of the district's senior leadership team.  This senior role is responsible for the planning, implementation and monitoring or our visitor services (recreation) and engagement activities.  Planning in this context covers:

  • Strategic planning - supporting each Forest Centre manager and their team to develop long and medium term plans for their sites in tandem with the organisation's strategic direction, as set out in 'Growing the Future', Forestry England's 5-year plan.
  • Encourage review and renewal of the Forest Centre Business Plans each year to encompass change and highlight short term deliverables that help us achieve our vision and goals in locally relevant ways.
  • Engage with the annual review and revision of the district's communication plan to ensure we are using our marketing and communications resources efficiently to both market our Forest Centres, and tell our story, the story of sustainable forestry and our role in tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis.
  • Drawing together of, and getting agreement on, and then communication of the business plan, and revision of the long-term financial plans on an annual basis.
  • A key [one-off] deliverable is the drawing together of a recreation strategy for the Forest of Dean evolved from the 'Our Shared Forest' umbrella management plan that was itself drawn together through extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation in 2019.

Monitoring of our business, understanding how the business is operating and where improvements can / need to be made is an essential part of the role.  This is both financial monitoring, monitoring in-year spend against agreed plans and projects and monitoring income - and taking corrective action when / where necessary.   Monitoring of health and safety, having safe systems of work, and a proactive approach to a safety first culture is also a key role for this post.  Accident (and near-miss) investigation, understand and act upon learning from accident (and near-miss) investigations is very important across our whole business, not least in respect to member of public accidents, liability claims and safeguarding matters.

The Head of Recreation & Engagement is an important leadership role, and will directly line manage the Operations Manager - Recreation, Operations Manager - Engagement, and the three Area Managers.  The wider team extends to some 40 people, brigaded across the 5 Forest Centre teams, the Marketing & Communications team, and learning / community team.  The Area Managers are new roles that support our wider Forestry delivery and line manage the beat foresters (who are part of the Forestry & Land Management team), this hybrid working is intended to provide improved business efficiencies whilst supporting greater integration between our forestry delivery and visitor services / engagement delivery. The post holder will champion exemplary approaches to people management, fostering a learning culture whilst also ensuring systems and processes are in place, and understood, for effective business controls.

Person specification

The Head of Recreation and Engagement will have significant directly relevant experience in the outdoor leisure or environmental sectors.

The post-holder will have demonstrated significant experience in leading multi-disciplinary teams towards delivering unified goals.

The post-holder will demonstrate a commitment to maintaining and improving approaches to health and safety, environmental protection, accident investigation and embedding learning from such investigations.

The post-holder will have strong communication and coaching skills.

The post-holder will have experience in stakeholder engagement and managing difficult or contentious issues in a positive way.

The post-holder will be educated to degree level.

Please clearly demonstrate how the above applies to you throughout your application. Failure to do so will mean that your application is automatically sifted out.


The post-holder will be educated to degree level.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Managing a Quality Service
Alongside your salary of £45,260, Forestry Commission contributes £12,220 towards you being a member of the Civil Service Defined Benefit Pension scheme. Find out what benefits a Civil Service Pension provides.
  • Learning and development tailored to your role
  • An environment with flexible working options
  • A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
  • A Civil Service pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles (opens in a new window), and will assess your Behaviours and Experience.

Sift and interview dates to be confirmed, but likely to be in August.

As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and personal statement. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form. 

Should a large number of applications be received, an initial sift may be conducted using the personal statement.  Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift or straight to interview.

Your interview will either be conducted face to face or by video. You will be notified of the location if you are selected for interview. A single face to face interview in Bank House, Coleford is expected in August.  The interview will test your experience against the essential and desirable experience for this role and the 3 behaviours as stated.

Each interview candidate will have 5 minutes to present to the interview panel, on a related subject that will be advised to them if invited to interview.

Further Information

A reserve list may be held for a period of 6 months from which further appointments can be made.

Any move to Forestry Commission from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. This includes moves between government departments. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at

If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check may be carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf.

However, we recognise in exceptional circumstances some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing [email protected] stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.

This role is full time only. Applicants who wish to work an alternative pattern are welcome to apply however your preferred working pattern may not be available and you should discuss this with the vacancy holder before applying.

Reasonable Adjustment

If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes. 

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should: 

Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs. 

Complete the Assistance required section in the Additional requirements page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if youre deaf, a Language Service Professional.

If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the 'Contact point for applicants' section.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.


Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.
People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
  • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service
Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles (opens in a new window).
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
The Civil Service also offers a Redeployment Interview Scheme to civil servants who are at risk of redundancy, and who meet the minimum requirements for the advertised vacancy.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Civil Service is committed to attract, retain and invest in talent wherever it is found. To learn more please see the Civil Service People Plan (opens in a new window) and the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (opens in a new window).
This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans (opens in a new window) initiative.
The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment (opens in new window).
Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :

Recruitment team

Further information

Our recruitment process is underpinned by the principle of appointment on the basis of fair and open competition and appointment on merit, as outlined in the Civil Service Commissioners Recruitment Principles.If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with these principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should in the first instance contact FCE by email: [email protected]. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission, which regulates all Civil Service recruitment.


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