School gardening resources support Covid-secure outdoor learning

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Luke MacGregor/RHS

As increasing numbers of schools look to take learning outside during the pandemic, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has published a new series of gardening ideas, activities and resources.

The charity’s RHS Campaign for School Gardening says that gardening can support curriculum learning and boost the wellbeing of young people, regardless of plot size available.

Launched in 2007, the campaign now has 40,000 schools and groups registered and the RHS says that spring is the perfect time to get gardening by raising seedlings on windowsills, planting summer bulbs or making a washing up bowl allotment.

The RHS is promoting a series of growing topics, which provide a “pick-and-mix” approach, allowing classes to be split into smaller groups to work on short, 10 to 20 minute activities before rotating.

Two suggested activities for spring are "Spring Seed Sowing", covering how to sow seeds, make pots, design plant labels, spot weeds and nurture seedlings, and "Wildlife Wonders", aimed at encouraging children to think about how to attract wildlife into the garden with activities including how to design and make bug hotels, minibeast identification and creating a wormery.

The RHS has also recommended ways in which gardens and outdoor spaces can play a role in supporting wellbeing such as taking lessons outside, running mindfulness sessions, creating safe zones or friendship benches where young people can relax or talk, and “chat and do” tables to keep hands busy.

The RHS has also updated its school gardening risk assessment template and guidance to include current coronavirus considerations.

Alana Cama, RHS schools and groups programme manager, said: “This has been an incredibly tough year for everyone and a garden or growing space could provide pupils and staff alike with a valuable place to unwind and find some peace.

“Last year, many of us developed an even greater affinity with gardens and green spaces so it’s the perfect time to get the most out of school plots for the benefit of pupils, staff and the wider community.”

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