Friday, 30 September 2016 15:33

Green fingers for schoolchildren

Written by
Maria Wright helps her son Derek with the new greenhouse at the Pavilion study centre Maria Wright helps her son Derek with the new greenhouse at the Pavilion study centre
In a first for schools in the London Borough of Barnet, the Pavilion study centre in Meadway, High Barnet, is offering vulnerable and excluded school children the opportunity to get an entry level qualification in horticulture.

A woodland area created for the pupils was officially opened by the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor David Longstaff (22.9.2016), and the facilities include a large greenhouse where pupils can plant crops like corn on the cob, peas and carrots.

Teachers, volunteers and neighbours have spent the last twelve months transforming a rubbish-strewn stretch of woodland into a quiet and secluded area for a range of outdoor activities.

Lesley Graham, project manager beside the memorial to Cira Sale, a former student who died in May at the age of 17Joanne Kelly, head of a study centre which provides schooling for up to 50 children, said the opening of the Meadway woodland was an amazing opportunity to enrich the curriculum for children suffering from anxiety or those troubled by challenging behaviour.

“The woodland is like an outdoor classroom where the children can develop social and personal skills, a chance to demonstrate that learning is fun, something that is not always possible in an indoor classroom.

“Practical education is so important for children who cannot manage in mainstream schooling and who need to develop tolerance and work out how to survive in what after all is a pretty tough society for the children of today.”

Derek Wright, a gardening instructor, said planting seeds and caring for crops were both activities that could help children relax.

“We hope studying in the greenhouse will help give the children guidance and ideas about the importance of achievement, as well as perhaps giving them some extra skills for possible employment in the future.”

Pavilion would now be able to offer pupils a level 1 entry qualification in preliminary horticulture, a first for any school in Barnet.

The ability to provide a land-based B-tech study course in horticulture was a real achievement for the woodland project manager, Lesley Graham.

At last we have a new facility that the whole school can benefit from, and we can offer a course that is the equivalent to a GCSE.

As the teachers prepared for the official opening of the woodland, Mr Wright was assisted by his mother, Mrs Maria Wright, who was pleased to be helping to create facilities that would help vulnerable children gain confidence.

“Up to five children at a time can work in the greenhouse, being shown how to plant and sow seeds, something we hope the children will enjoy.”

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