South Wigston High School blossoming on horticultural course

A school has found a green-fingered way of engaging students in their work.

South Wigston High School is believed to be among only a handful of secondaries to offer a horticultural course in affiliation with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

So far, seven have embarked on it since it was launched in September.

“It’s hands-on and practical and a world away from the desks they’re used to sitting behind,” says Rob Weatherill who leads it.

“The students are those who were struggling to learn another language and weren’t necessarily engaged enough to continue taking it.

“The horticultural course offers them something different and utilises the school’s garden area to its fullest.

“It also ensures they are getting something really meaningful out of their time.”

The garden has several beds for planting and even a polytunnel and shed.

There are gardening overalls and Wellingtons for students, along with gardening tools to assist them as they learn about the best conditions to grow plants and when, as well as their identification, including Latin terms.

Mr Weatherill said: “The confidence of the students involved has grown tremendously since September.

“They love being hands on and they also get to see the fruits of their labour.

“The course is cross-curricular, too, incorporating maths elements as they measure out areas and cultivation time, as well as science and the photosynthesis process.

“I know from teacher feedback elsewhere it’s made a difference to how they act around the school and that can only be a good thing.”

The school has struck up a positive relationship with nearby gardening centre, Palmers, which has given work experience to some of the students.

“Two of the boys on the introductory RHS Horticultural course went to Palmers and got a lot out of it. They’ve been talking about what they would like to do as a career and horticulture is something they’re now thinking about.

“The experience helped to give them a taste of what it could be like and what’s involved. It also gave them the chance to take on responsibility and they really rose to it,” said Mr Weatherill.

“Every one is on course to pass with flying colours.

“By the time they leave, they will have completed further levels and, we hope, will have flourished even further.”

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