Countryside Classroom - Connecting schools with food, farming and the natural environment

Growing Schools has been re-launched as Countryside Classroom, the largest ever partnership of organisations who are committed to helping children learn about food, farming and/or the natural environment.

It is the vision of Countryside Classroom that schools and teachers across the UK will embrace food, farming and the natural environment as essential components of a broad and balanced curriculum, incorporating them into day-to-day learning. As a result of this, every child will have the opportunity to learn about and experience these topics in diverse ways that are increasingly supported by experiences outside the classroom.

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The Growing Schools Garden London

Growing Schools Garden London LaunchEveryone knows that children would rather be out than in...

Every child and teacher will tell you that books aren't the only way to learn

...that there are more vivid, more practical, more inspiring ways of finding out about the world we live in

...that you remember best the things you experience for yourself.

In July 2002, the award-winning Growing Schools Garden was exhibited at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The garden highlighted the Growing Schools programme and aimed to encourage schools to harness the full potential of their own school grounds as a learning resource.

The show garden demonstrated how barren playgrounds could be transformed into exciting and welcoming green spaces. The design incorporated the ideas from 21 schools around the country as well as features they had made and plants the pupils had grown from seed.

Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Special Schools were all represented in the garden; some large, some small; some rural, some urban; some from prosperous areas, others from areas of acute deprivation. Common to them all was a real enthusiasm and commitment to outdoor learning and enormous creativity in the use of their own outdoor spaces at school.

The garden was a huge hit with the public, and received massive media attention. The Royal Horticultural Society judges declared it an inspiration to young people, and awarded it a prestigious silver-gilt medal. It provided an excellent example, for teachers, pupils, governors, parents and the general public alike, of what schools can achieve, regardless of location, budget or resources.

The Growing Schools Garden was a partnership, project-managed by Gardening Which? magazine gardening experts with a track record of successful issue-led/campaigning show gardens. The other partners were the Department for Education & Skills (DfES), who initiated and part-funded the project, Learning through Landscapes and the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, both experts in the development of school grounds as a context for learning. The garden was generously sponsored by National Grid plc. and also received invaluable ‘in-kind’ support from many other businesses and organisations.

Since the show, the garden has been reconstructed at the Curriculum Environmental Service in Eltham, South London, for use as a training facility for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Initial Teacher Training (ITT), both locally and nationally and as a resource for local schools. It is not open to the public

To visit the garden or find out about training courses, please contact:

Environmental Curriculum Service, 77 Bexley Road, Eltham, London SE9 2PE Tel: 020 8850 2615. Fax: 020 8850 7355 or e-mail environment@widehorizons.org.uk

Or visit www.widehorizons.org.uk