What is a Garden School?

Any school, regardless of its size, can be a Garden School. A Garden School is one that involves children in using the garden to enhance their learning and health and well-being. It also promotes a positive attitude towards the environment.

The essential criterion for a Garden School is that, regardless of size or layout, it is consciously used to address one or a number of different issues. These issues can range from simple curriculum links on growing, through to active harvesting and preparing of vegetables linked to healthy eating. Importantly, they can also raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues like climate change and sustainability. They can also develop links for community engagement and partnership.

These criteria are set out in our framework and your school can use it to decide where you are on the journey to becoming a Garden School. The framework is a self-assessment tool, but you can also apply for recognition as a Garden School by completing it and posting some of your successes on our website, stating what stage your Garden School is at.

There are many different types of gardens and many ways in which gardens can be used in learning and teaching. In the sections that follow, we set out some guidance on the opportunities gardens offer for learning and teaching, community engagement and health and wellbeing. Use this framework to decide what type of Garden School you are and use the on-line forms (OSF Garden Schools website/Facebook/Twitter) to share ideas or for inspiration to grow your garden, develop opportunities and involve more children, parents and community groups.  You may find that you are at different stages on each of the criteria. For example, you may find that you have a pocket garden, but you grow four types of produce and share it with the old people’s home next to the school. So, it is possible to be at different stages for different elements of your Garden School. We leave it to you to make an overall judgement and to make plans to move on to the next stage.

The Garden provides the context for a great deal of subject and interdisciplinary based learning such as science, language, health and well-being and expressive arts. Our Garden School educational materials provide guidance addressing these curriculum areas; providing ideas throughout the whole year.