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Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:01

Five years on, over half way there

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) brings gardening to more than 3 million UK children

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Schools up and down the country are baking cakes from home-grown produce to celebrate the RHS Campaign for School Gardening's fifth birthday tomorrow (19 September). The campaign works with more than half of all UK schools and the number is growing every day. This means that an estimated 3.2 million children now benefit from gardening through the charity's initiative.

Nearly 16,000 schools have signed up to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening since it began in 2007. It was set up by the RHS to help children learn about growing, healthy eating and the environment. RHS research also proves that gardening in schools can improve literacy and numeracy skills, as well as increasing child's readiness to learn and improving children's self-esteem, confidence and motivation.*

The campaign has been so successful that schools in 96 countries outside the UK including Cambodia, Mexico, India and the USA have joined the scheme, giving them access to a large bank of online resources that include lesson plans in all subjects, risk assessments, planning resources and more.

RHS Head of Education, Sarah Cathcart says, "We are really proud that not only do we have millions of children in the UK enjoying the benefits of learning and being outdoors growing plants, but children around the world are also learning about gardening, through the RHS Campaign for School Gardening

"The campaign is helping to meet the aims set out in a government-backed report earlier this year, saying that every pupil should be growing at school, to improve achievement, health and wellbeing.

"We need to ensure that every school in Britain is making the most out of its green space, and five years into the campaign we are over half way there. As of today than more than 8,000 teachers have attended 600 training sessions with our school Regional Advisors to help more children learn through gardening."

Colette Morris, Head of Christ Church CE Primary School in Battersea, which was hit by riots last year, said: "Joining the RHS Campaign for School Gardening has made such a difference to our school. It's a wonderful place of learning that calms even the most disruptive of children. Last year, rioters stole thousands of pounds worth of copper piping from the roof and the children talked about it a lot. The garden is one of the things that helped them move on. There is something magical about it. They see and hear things that they wouldn't normally notice in the busy urban environment. They experience a stillness."

The campaign supports schools in many different ways. These include a benchmark scheme that allows schools to measure the development of their school garden in return for gardening books, tools and seeds sent out by the RHS. So far, 62 schools have reached Level 5, which means they have engaged their local community in gardening and use the garden to deliver every aspect of the curriculum.

Schools can register for free. For more information visit: www.rhs.org.uk/school gardening.

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