Green-fingered students at a Newcastle upon Tyne school have rolled up their sleeves and begun growing their own fruit and vegetables.
The pupils at Excelsior Academy are all taking part in a pilot project that takes hard-to-reach learners out of the classroom and into the garden.
Supported by the Royal Horticultural Society and funded by the Children’s Foundation, the initiative is inspiring students to learn what to plant and when.
The youngsters are already growing raspberries, leeks, broad beans, lettuces and garlic in the school grounds and plan to share their fresh produce with teachers, parents and fellow pupils. “It’s the first time we’ve done something like this in a school,” said Royal Horticultural Society project co-ordinator Sarah Carrie.
“The project has already had an impact on some of the students, who worked admirably as soon as we moved into the garden.
“It is so important that schools give children a chance to shine. The classroom only measures success through academia. Good teamwork is essential – and that is what they’re doing in the garden.”
Kerry McCormack, fundraising manager for the Children’s Foundation, hopes to continue the work with other schools in the North East. “It is important for us to reach children of all backgrounds and abilities and offer them opportunities they may not otherwise have,” she said.
“Seeing the children engage so well with the project and overcome social barriers is a great sense of achievement, even at this early stage.”
The pupils themselves are full of enthusiasm for their gardening enterprise.
“I learn more by doing things,” said 12-year-old Courtney Graham. “I’m excited about growing red and pink roses.
When we have them I hope I can use them in the classroom, paint them in art and look at them in biology. Knowing I’ve grown them myself will make it seem even more worthwhile.”
For more on the schools work of the Royal Horticultural Society, visit www.rhs.org.uk/children/for-schools CAPTION: Patch work: Sarah Carrie from the Royal Horticultural Society (centre) with Excelsior pupils (from left) Marek, Sanujel, Carl and Emil and their first crop of leeks