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The Dogmother

Educational gardening

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Just been having a rant with a friend about educating children on healthy eating and government inertia - here's what he says:


If the government (ggrrr) were serious about kids' welfare and eating habits, they wouldn't waste literally millions and millions of pounds on smart-bum consultants telling us to eat more fruit and how to peel a banana.


They would instead insist that ground in town that has been left unused for three years or more should be sold at a flat rate and given over to allotments - with priority going to families with children.


Then they would hire practical, helpful gardeners (no PR posers allowed) who would show people how to turn their land into food.


School kids should be allowed to opt out of games lessons if they want to work on their allotments instead.

When schools do one of their teacher training days, one of the teaching assistants and the allotment's resident gardner can supervise all the kids workng on the allotment. (No more scrambling around for child care cover!)


The kids could grow vegetables and keep chickens and maybe even pigs on the allotment, with a government grant. This will be a far better use of educational funds than most of the rubbish we fund.


Ooo, that'll get some responses !

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Interesting ideas this bit wouldn't work though


"When schools do one of their teacher training days, one of the teaching assistants and the allotment's resident gardner can supervise all the kids workng on the allotment. (No more scrambling around for child care cover!) "


There are very strict rules about the staff to pupil ratio, also the TA's wouldn't take the risk of a kid getting hurt. Oh and the teachers would all complain when the TA subsequently goes missing from the classroom to do the training they missed on the training day!


The school I used to work at has a huge piece of unused land. Desperately trying to get planning permission for it so they can sell it.


Why does a school have a tract of unused land??? It was never a playing field, its on the other side of a busy main road to the school site. Any guesses???


It was the school farm - from when they taught farming - years ago there were animals and crops grown there as part of the childrens education but the area is no longer a farming area but a commuter town so farming isn't on the curriculum anymore and the school wants the millions it will be worth with planning permission in order to get rid of the demountable English classrooms and improve the facilities for subjects they actually do teach.

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I would have loved it if the farm had been a farm but it hasn't been used as such for years so I never got to see it. Apparently it was very good and won lots of young farmers awards in it's time. But Billericay really isn't the place for it now - its very middle class and full of overpriced houses. The kids don't like getting their hands dirty.

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Our Lower School (Foundation - year 4) is just starting a project to turn part of the playing field into a wildlife garden with native trees, a meadow etc. Future phases include a veg plot, sensory garden etc. As chair of the local gardening club I'm trying to support this initiative and help our members get involved.


The idea of children working on an allotment makes me think of when I was at school 20 years ago the 'less able' children weren't helped or encouraged academically, instead they had a little chain gang that helped one of the teachers to tend the flower beds and grow a few veggies. As a parent, I think I may have preferred that they were given more educational support...


On the subject of allotments.... in my village (on the edge of the London/Milton Keynes commuter belt) none of the landowners are prepared to give up land for allotments. They are all hanging on to it to make megabucks from housing developments. The Parish Council can't even get land for a graveyard.


On the subject of putting more into the curriculum - my son is in Year 1 and he is already expected to do reading at home every night, and to practise 2 different lots of spelling 3 times a week. This amounts to about 30 mins work each night AGED FIVE. Not to do it would mean to be left behind. The school day is fit to bursting trying to get kids better to improve schools' league table placings. I don't expect they would risk giving up academic time for gardening.


Just my thoughts


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James' school do quite a lot. The reception class has their own garden which they look after. There is also the greenfingers club which is run by the chair of the governers (and parish council and the horticultural society) and his wife.


They are also trying to build up the village shows more and were so welcoming when I rocked up there this year with my things - they keep asking if I'm entering more. I'm asking if they will add an egg category!

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I do gardening with my special needs sixth formers. we have 2 greenhouse and some little beds. At the moment we are growing lettuce, radishes, peas and broadbeans and chitting potatoes. We will be growing all sorts of flower plants and some more veggies too. We also goto the local NT place for a morning a week and work with the gardeners there in the nursery - it is the best part of my teaching week.


The only down side is that i am the only one who remembers to do the watering and that includes over the 6 week summer holiday!!

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Sounds brilliant and I am actually convinced that you actually are! I used to work with people with learning dificlties in a hospital in Epsom. 24 residents to 3 staff (4 if someone forgot to take a sick day) and it was such a rush to just wash and feed the residents, let alone DO anything useful WITH them. Such a a shame.

I wish someone had taught me gardening. Having to learn it all from Ground Force and such programmes and then trial and error hasn't worked for me yet.


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