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An RHS campaign to bring gardening to schools is reaping a rich harvest and now will be added to the National Curriculum in 2014

Gardening now ‘part of school life ‘

Teaching assistant, Carole Salmon sums it up perfectly: “Gardening has been central to school life here for a number of years now and the children get so much out of it”.

Carole has been explaining the impact gardening has had at Petersgate Infant School in Canfield, Hampshire which won a top award from the Royal Horticultural Society in recognition of their school gardening achievements.

It’s just one of hundreds of infant and secondary schools throughout the West Country where gardening is making a real difference to children’s lives.

Petersgate has been a member of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening since 2007. The campaign is a nationwide initiative that encourages schools to develop gardens for use by pupils. Schools are helped to progress along a benchmarking scheme, from Level 1 to Level 5, and once a school has integrated the garden into its daily life, using it as a teaching resource

Growing confidence in the garden

Here are just some ways researchers have found gardening helps improve children’s sense of self-worth:  their fears;

 learning where bright flowers and vegetables replaced the whiteboard as teaching tools;   sense of pride.

16 Country Gardener

in as many lessons as possible, the school is presented with an award. Petersgate Infant School has reached Level 5.

“We have an orchard where we grow fruit trees; in fact we plant new trees every year. We also grow every vegetable under the sun which the children eat at school but also take home to share with their families. The children absolutely love being taught outside – it brings learning and fun together – they love it!”

Gardening is spreading through the nation’s schools, seizing children’s imaginations in a way that no-one could have predicted.

The latest major development is that gardening will now be taught in schools as part of the National Curriculum from September 2014. It’s a move that’s been warmly welcomed by the RHS but one challenge will be ensuring that all teachers are prepared for this addition to the teaching programme at schools.

The consultation on reform of the National Curriculum, states that pupils from Key Stages 1-3 will be taught ‘to cultivate plants for practical purposes' as a key activity in design and technology lessons.

It’s impossible to be against gardening in schools. It’s a feel-good, uncontroversial cause; but is it just a fad, however earnest? Will its moment pass, as fashions change?

Not if the ecological principles and practice are allowed to take root, says Paul Clarke, professor of education at St Mary’s University College, London, and director of sustainable


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