Squire’s Garden Centres have joined forces with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to create a programme to get secondary school children into gardening, and to change their perceptions about a career in horticulture.

The “Secondary School Challenge” scheme was launched last September, and over 70 children aged 12-15 have taken part from schools across Surrey, Middlesex & Greater London.

The schools had 2 projects to choose from: ‘Creating a School Garden’ or ‘Growing Your Community Garden’. Each team was allocated a mentor from either Squire’s Garden Centres or RHS Wisley to help them plan, develop and design their ideas.

Each school team presented their ideas at a final assessment day in December at RHS Wisley. Prizes were awarded for:

  • Best Teamwork – Surbiton High School
  • Most Innovative – Notre Dame School, Lingfield
  • Pupil’s Choice – Sir William Perkins School, Chertsey
  • Best Overall Project – Bishop David Brown School, Woking

Boys from Bishop David Brown School in Woking

Boys from Bishop David Brown School in Woking celebrating winning “Best Overall Project”

Children from the 4 winning schools

Children from the four winning schools 

The four winning schools were awarded a Raspberry Pi time-lapse photography kit and gardening vouchers, whilst the children received a selection of carnivorous and cactus plants to take home.

Kay Clark, RHS Community Outreach Manager, said: “The RHS does a huge amount of work to ensure primary school children have access to the educational and wellbeing benefits of horticulture. We are committed to school children, whatever their age, having access to horticulture, and that is why we launched the Secondary School Challenge.”

“The Secondary School Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for children to work with the RHS, which has some of the best horticulturists in the world, and gain invaluable insight into the diversity and importance of the horticulture industry.”

“We chose to partner with Squire’s Garden Centres as they are passionate about plants and about introducing horticulture to young people – Squire’s staff have really helped ignite the children’s passion for gardening.”

Sarah Squire (Squire’s Deputy Chairman) commented “This programme has been so successful that the RHS are considering launching similar projects in other parts of the country next year. We want to encourage more secondary school children to become aware of how great the horticultural industry really is, and to realise that there are fantastic and very diverse career opportunities at companies like Squire’s Garden Centres.”

If you are interested in a career in horticulture visit: www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk/careers

School project (2)  School project (1)

Some of the school projects ready to be judged.

Participating schools & their mentors from Squire’s & the RHS

  • Sir William Perkins School, Chertsey – mentored by Tom Cardrick, Plant Area Manager at Squire’s Woking
  • Notre Dame School, Lingfield (2 teams) – mentored by Peter Mitchell, Assistant Centre Manager and Mike Kelly, Plant Area Manager at Squire’s Crawley
  • Surbiton High School (2 teams) – mentored by Phil Hadler, Plant Area Manager at Squire’s Long Ditton, and Marc Andre, Bedding Department Head at Squire’s Shepperton
  • Tiffin School, Kingston – mentored by Steven Guy, Plant Area Assistant at Squire’s Twickenham
  • Bishop Wand, Sunbury – mentored by Louise Jackson, Houseplant Department Head at Squire’s Twickenham
  • Farnham Heath End School, Farnham  – mentored by Katie Bennalick, RHS Wisley Curatorial Team.
  • Bishop David Brown School, Woking  – mentored by Chris Young, RHS Community Outreach Advisor for London
  • Wallington Girls School, Wallington – mentored by Michele Coe-O’Brien, Retail Team Leader at RHS Wisley Plant Centre
  • St Bede’s School, Redhill (2 teams) – mentored by Michaela Freed, Senior Team Leader at RHS Wisley Plant Centre and Lisa Waters from RHS Wisley Curatorial Team.

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