Working with supported learning students in the garden

This year in the garden we have had our first two cohorts of work experience placements from City and Islington College’s supported learning department. Each term two students have joined us to learn practical gardening skills as well as getting a feel for the working world. We work to ensure that they experience as much as possible and learn as many new attributes as they can and we hope that they leave with an understanding of the principles of organic and urban growing as well as skills such as interacting with members of the public and gardening for a client group.

Each week we start by talking about our plan for the day and what we are doing. The students then head to the garden shed and gather the tools that they think will be required. This term we have worked particularly on planting up a living wall with ivy and other climbers and creepers in order to provide winter fodder for bees and other pollinators as well as a haven for local birds. We also take the students out once a term to work on our external contracts in the King’s Cross development, where we maintain terrace and roof gardens for a number of businesses in the area.

Gardening and horticulture as an area of work is excellent for those students who require additional support in the learning environment. Outdoors work  and connection to nature can be very therapeutic and relaxing as it is non-demanding and the pace can be slow. Tasks can be varied according to ability and success is easily achievable with the right amount of care. Nurturing and caring for a living thing also cultivates responsibility as well as pride when your tiny seedling becomes a giant sunflower.

All of our students this year have been extremely capable and it’s been a joy to work with them. I wish them all the luck in finding work that they enjoy.