Friday, 23 March 2018

Why gardening should be on the National Curriculum

Before we moved to France I was as an Environmental Educator working with primary school children.  I covered a range of activities including gardening.  I helped the children plan, build and use gardens in their schools.  It was hugely satisfying work and the children loved what they thought was non school work, where in fact they were learning so much.  My work was outside of the National Curriculum and relied on head teachers realising how important this "work" was, especially as much of the area I worked in was very urban, with many children having limited access to gardens or outdoor green spaces.   Both then and now I strongly believe that gardening should be part of the National Curriculum as it teaches children so many important things.

Children with their pumpkin harvest

Why gardening should be put on the National Curriculum

It teaches children:

> Core subjects:

  • Maths when they plan gardens and work out costs of seeds etc, calculating how much they have grown, costing produce to sell - the list goes on
  • Science/Biology/Ecology - gardening is science in action!
  • Literacy when they write up gardening reports
  • Latin for all those official scientific plant and animal names.
  • Geography - weather and climate, gardening/growing around the world
  • History - plant and garden development through time. The importance of plants such as spices, cotton etc
  • IT - for planning and recording
  • Design and Technology - gardens and tools need designing.
  • Art - drawing/painting plants etc, studying famous plant paintings
  • Music - lots of garden and plant related music to study as well as making instruments from plants the children have grown.
  • PSHE -  Personal, social, health and economic, education.  This is where gardening really comes into things. 

PSHE education is defined by the schools inspectorate Ofsted as a planned programme to help children and young people develop fully as individuals and as members of families and social and economic communities.

Well gardening can teach so much of this and helps children to develop valuable life skills:

> Patience - we live in an instant world so gardening teaches children that some things are worth waiting for.
> Team work
> Planning and organising
> Nurturing  and responsibility
> Sustainability - children need to learn where their food comes from to understand the concept of sustainability.
> Dexterity - all those little seeds need careful handing and thinning seedlings is dexterous work.
> Cooking and what better way than to cook veg they have grown themselves.
> Healthy eating- fresh organic veg straight to their plates!
> An understanding of the wider world - too many people do not know where their food comes from or what is involved in getting it to their plates.

Gardening also has some great health benefits:

  • Being outside and gardening helps keep children fit.
  • Sunshine helps top up their Vitamin D levels.
  • Exposure to soil helps build up immunity to disease.
  • Nurturing plants has been shown to have positive mental health benefits.
  • Builds self esteem and a genuine sense of achievement.

Child gardening

Wow - ALL that from a some time spent gardening and the children will not even realise they are having a "lesson".  It is also a huge benefit for those less academic children who may not shine when it comes to official tests, homework and traditional lessons but who thrive when doing something practical like gardening.

In Holland there are whole schools where gardening, animal husbandry and care of the environment are their core teaching subjects.  When I was at school you could do O'Levels (GCSEs) in Agriculture or Rural Studies.  These led me on to a career in countryside management and then environmental education.  Gardening teaches so much to our next generation.  I believe now, more than ever, the Government needs to get Gardening (and agriculture) onto the curriculum and as a recognised GSCE.

Do you agree?

Why gardening should be on the national curriculum

A Green and Rosie Life


  1. Yes I completely agree, I grew up with my Nanna and Grandad and we had a vegetable patch in our garden which I loved being able to help them with. My daughter does Eco club at her school which she really enjoys but they only did a small amount of gardening.

  2. Totally agree! My dad always grew his own veg when i was growing up and i loved helping out. My four have all helped me in the garden over the years, they've learned so much from gardening.

  3. Absolutely, both as a parent and as someone who has no idea what she is doing in the garden. A great way to get children outdoors and creating something

  4. Totally agree here - I grew up with a dad who adored the garden and it was his pride and joy. I would spend hours pottering about with him
    and I would love it if more kids had the same experience!

  5. Much as I hate gardening, I agree with this. It does teach you valuable skills and being able to grow our own vegetables would save us quite a bit of money :)

  6. i used to run a gardening club at the school i taught in, in Dubai, the kids loved growing foods they could take home #goinggreen

  7. I totally agree with you. Living where we do, we are lucky that our primary school gets the children gardening and learning about it and they visit Ham House locally to help with their garden projects and also spend time in Richmond Park learning about the environment and gardening. The secondary school has a gardening club I am planning to persuade my tween to sign up to. It's not national curriculum but it's something. Sadly, our current NT is so stupidly set up to pressure our kids to be doing stuff way beyond their age ability and not actual sensible or helpful or healthy life skills. Can I go slap Michael Gove now...?

  8. Yes, yes and yes! This is exactly why I love forest school and the hands on aspects of Steiner education. Gardening is the same and I agree should be in all schools. So obvious to us, so hard for the policy makers to see. #GoingGreen