St Gregory’s Catholic Science College in Kenton have won the RHS School Gardening Team of the Year Award after their team of 13-15 year olds designed and built an outdoor learning environment.
The land used for the winning project had originally been earmarked for a staff car park extension. For many of the school’s pupils the garden serves as their main connection with nature, inspiring lessons across the curriculum and campaigns to raise awareness of environmental issues such as reducing plastic use.
The plot also enables organic crops to be grown and the team maintains a large community flower bed at the entrance to the local park.
The competition was judged by Frances Tophill, presenter of BBC’s Gardeners’ World, who expressed her delight at seeing a group of teenagers engage with nature in this way: “This year’s winners prove the appeal of gardening for teens - whether it’s to boost wellbeing, learn valuable life skills or open up career opportunities such as paving the way for tomorrow’s conservationists. The determination, vision and hard work they’ve shown is nothing short of miraculous.”
Alana Cama, RHS Skills Development Manager, noted how in increasingly exam driven teenage years fewer and fewer adolescents are able to spend time in the garden and acknowledged the benefits of making time to work with nature: “Often, the pressure of exams and grades means fewer students over the age of 12 spending time in the garden. It just shows that with a little perseverance, groups like St Gregory’s can reap the benefits of the outdoors.”
Andrew Prindiville, Headteacher of St Gregory’s, was understandably full of praise for his students: “This is a fantastic achievement. We are very proud of our amazing pupils.
“This award is also recognition of St Gregory’s determination to bring the curriculum to life through innovative teaching and to encourage pupils to strive for the best in everything they do, making a positive impact on the world around them.”
The prize collected by the group from St Gregory’s is a cedar greenhouse for the school, which was donated by greenhouse manufacturer Gabriel Ash, the company which supported the RHS School Gardeners of the Year 2018.
The RHS School Gardeners of the Year competition forms part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening which aims to get young people gardening by providing free resources and advice: www.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening.