Supporting the Science Curriculum with Food Growing

Food Growing Schools: London encourages schools to use the school garden and food growing activities to deliver the curriculum because of the many benefits, including increased attainment for pupils engaging in  learning in this way (discover the benefits of school food growing here).

Why focus on the science curriculum?
Click the image to read our case study.

In particular, science is an aspect of the curriculum that links well on a number of levels to food growing activities.

See our case study Incorporating food growing into the science curriculum for insight and advice from teachers and our team.

FGSL Engagement Officer, Nick Ives, has worked with teachers and school staff across London, helping host teachers’ forums and twilight sessions to share ideas and practical steps for best practice.

He writes:

“Increasingly, I’ve found that schools respond very positively to using food growing activities to deliver Science. Food growing lends itself well to many of the processes and concepts involved in Science.

This is also backed up by research carried out by the RHS Campaign for school gardening revealing that 70% of the participating schools surveyed used food growing to deliver Science.

I always kick off a training session with teachers or pupils by asking: what are the five key things we need to get anything to grow?

Even the most unconfident growers will get the first four – Seeds, Soil, Water, Sun! Each of these four ideas make excellent jumping off places to deliver Science. The fifth being YOU ie the gardeners to pull all these together!

A quick brainstorm of possible links to the first four will include, plant growth, seed germination, rocks weathering to different soil types, decomposition of organic matter vs plastics, insect pollination, habitats eg compost heap invertebrates, predators and prey, movement of planets ie Earth’s seasons, water cycle – to name a few! Of course growing organically increases one’s chances of exploring associated biodiversity – little compares to witnessing the joy of watching ladybird larvae munching aphids or seeing ants fight off ladybirds because they want to protect their honeydew producing aphid farms!

All great stuff to observe and discuss.

If you fancy linking the science of growing to supermarkets and eating habits, a simple investigation is to buy a range of lentils, peas and beans and try a germination test on them – you’ll surprise yourself!”

For more of our case studies about food growing in schools, visit this page.

Watch this RHS Campaign for school gardening video below celebrating 10 years and mentioning the top subjects that are taught in the school garden.

June teachers forums in Camden, Islington and Bexley

We’re hosting a few events this month and with the growing season off to a sunny start,  our engagement officers, are ready to support your school food growing by providing information and resources at teachers forums!

Timings for both events are 4 – 5.30pm. Locations to be announced soon.

Islington and Camden are hosting the first of two twilight forums on 20 June, with a focus on the Early Years setting.  Come along to find out how to incorporate growing in a setting that suits your learning environment.  Whether it’s starting seeds off indoors and then moving them outside once they’re stronger; or discovering ways of dealing with pests such as slugs, the session will no doubt offer resources to get you started or help you along your already established journey of food growing.

To register your interest in attending, please contact Marjon Willersmarjon.willers@nhs.net 

Bexley hosts the second twilight forum on 26 June, with a focus on infusing food growing into the Primary Curriculum from Year 1 up to and including Year 6.  This session will empower you to start growing using whatever space you have by giving you the confidence to teach any area of the curriculum through the use of your outdoor space.  Initiatives along with resources will be shared including how to grow your own picnic and how to use food growing in an enterprising way.

To register your interest in attending please contact Louise TseLouise.Tse@bexley.gov.uk

We look forward to seeing you at one of the above forums!

For more training and events coming up, please click here.

Enfield schools food growing workshop

Learn how to infuse food growing into your everyday teaching by attending a workshop on May 22nd from 4.00 – 5.30pm at Alma Primary School, Enfield EN3 4UQ

Lisa Grant, Engagement Officer for Food Growing Schools: London, will be there to help host the session with seeds, growing tips and practical ideas about how you can use food growing activities to support the curriculum.

Please register your interest in advance  with Sharon Davies, Learning Consultant PSHE / SRE & External Projects, Enfield Council  – Sharon.Davies@enfield.gov.uk

Project Learning Garden prepares for first growing season in London

The Project Learning Garden team have been busy recruiting and training schools in Merton, Bexley and Southwark while gearing up for the first growing season of the project in London.

Project Learning Garden provides starter kits to schools with everything they need to start or refresh a food growing garden and use it as an outdoor classroom. Project Learning Garden provides schools with hands-on training, curriculum linked resources, raised beds and gardening tools, a fully equipped mobile cooking cart and ongoing support and guidance.

Despite the snow in March, they held two training sessions to meet with teachers and other school staff to start to work on planning how to link a school garden to their curriculum. The sessions covered curriculum, organic gardening, basic cooking skills and working with groups outside. The team running the workshop were joined by former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins and Master Gardeners in Southwark.

The schools will soon be receiving their ‘kits’ which include a selection of cooking and gardening items as well as raised beds and lots of activities and resources to deliver the curriculum.

Schools also have access to a range of lesson plans and activities which link to environmental themes and subjects across the curriculum.

Delegates at the training session were enthusiastic and went away feeling positive about the whole day and being involved in the project. One delegate said:

‘I really enjoyed the day and found it useful and very helpful’

‘It was good to be reminded how important the soil is in or garden – easy to forget!’

To find out more about PLG visit the Garden Organic website here.

Garden Organic, the UK’s national charity for organic growing & the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) a charitable organisation based in Atlanta, USA, are working in partnership to bring their successful Project Learning Garden programme to the UK.

Seeds of Change®, who donate 1% of sales to research and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable organic practices, are generously funding this pilot project, making this new partnership possible.

Food Growing Across the Secondary Curriculum – Croydon session

Food Growing Schools Engagement Officer, Lisa Grant will be delivering an afternoon session in Croydon on 24 April from 1.00 – 3.30pm on Food Growing Across the Secondary Curriculum – sharing ideas on how to infuse food growing into your everyday teaching and learning in an outdoor classroom setting.

Open to teachers and school staff in Croydon and the surrounding area.

The event will be held at Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College for Girls.

Please sign-up in advance with Croydon School Food Improvement Officer Laura Flanagan

Email: laura.flanagan@croydon.gov.uk

Tel: 020 8604 7459

Join us for the Lewisham teachers forum on 24 April

Food Growing teachers forum at Kilmorie Primary school, 24 April, 4.00-5.30

All primary schools in Lewisham are invited to this free training event on food growing at school.

The session will cover a range of topics:  linking food growing to the curriculum, exploring whole school/environment benefits, how to get started and how to further develop food growing at school.

There will be a Q&A tour of Kilmorie’s extensive growing beds led by the school gardener and all attendees will be given a resource pack to take home.

This promises to be an inspiring session for those keen on developing their growing activity or just thinking about how to set it up.

The session is free to attend, please register your interest with Nick Ives, nives@gardenorganic.org.uk, or call 07454519749 to hear more details.

Food Growing in the Primary Curriculum – Croydon Session

Food Growing Schools Engagement Officer, Lisa Grant will be delivering an afternoon session in Croydon on March 21st from 1.00 – 3.30pm on Food Growing in the Primary Curriculum.

Open to teachers and school staff in Croydon and the surrounding area.

Please sign-up in advance with Croydon School Food Improvement Officer Laura Flanagan:

Email: laura.flanagan@croydon.gov.uk

Tel: 020 8604 7459

How to plan a food growing area and link it to the curriculum

Food Growing Schools: London partner School Food Matters is hosting two Gardening Training mornings for school staff in Ealing and Lambeth.

The training will cover planning your food growing area as well as ideas on how to link it to the curriculum. The training will be run by our gardening expert Nick Ives from Food Growing Schools: London.

Who should attend?

Any adult from your school interested in gardening – a teacher, support staff, parent, volunteer – the choice is yours!

Each school can bring up to 1 adult. The session is free to attend and will be a great chance to get some great tips and advice, as well as meet people from other schools.

Gardening Training mornings – ‘How to plan a food growing area and link it to the curriculum’
Where: Reay Primary School, Hackford Road, London, SW9 0EN
Date: Tuesday 27th February 2018
Time: 9.30am to 12.30pm

Where: Lady Margaret Primary School, Lady Margaret Rd, Southall, UB1 2NH
Date: Tuesday 6th March 2018
Time: 9.30am to 12.30pm

For more info and to register in advance please contact School Food Matters.

Food Growing in Schools: Research Round-up

The benefits of food growing reach far beyond improving gardening skills and teaching children where food comes from and the FGSL partnership has gathered lots of evidence to show this.

Research round upTrees for Cities (TFC) have worked with 50 schools to create Edible Playgrounds. These spaces are a fun way to teach children new skills, enrich food education and get food growing into the curriculum.

TFC identify some of the key challenges that food growing helps to tackle:

  1. Children have a disconnect with nature and understanding where food comes from:

33% of pupils in UK primary schools believe cheese comes from plants.

25% believed that fish fingers come from chicken or pigs.*

  1. Mental and physical health problems are widespread:

Latest figures from Public Health England show that a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese.

1 in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

So how are pupils benefitting from food growing?

Improved skills, knowledge and behaviour

Over 90% of head teachers said their Edible Playground had increased students’ gardening skills, knowledge of the environment and food origins and uptake of fruit and vegetables.

Lots of schools have been using the playground to run therapy sessions for SEN children or those with anger management issues.

70% of schools surveyed said the playgrounds have supported work with SEN students or those with challenging behavioural issues.

“It has a very calming effect on some pupils with significantly challenging behavioural difficulties”  Rockmount Primary School.

RHS research has also found that gardening can help children to develop ‘a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life’.

Food growing used as a teaching tool

All of the Head Teachers surveyed use their edible playground for maths and science lessons, as well as for English and art (92%), design and technology (76%), geography (30%), languages (23%), RE and ICT (15%) and history (7%).

1 in 4 schools now link food growing to the curriculum**

These positive findings echo the results of the independent FGSL evaluation 2016, that also shows how food growing in schools increases links between schools and local businesses, organisations and volunteers and brings significant value to schools that are part of the programme.

Read the full FGSL report and more about the TFC research results.

*surveyed by the British Nutrition Foundation in 2013.  **FGSL Figures based on evaluation surveys with lead school teachers in September 2013 (n=504) and July 2016 (n=241).

Access Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project exclusively through Food for Life

We’re delighted to let you know that Food for Life has formally teamed up with Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project to give all Food for Life schools and nurseries EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to their beautiful food education and growing resources.

Get involved: Jamie Oliver and Food For Life's Kitchen Garden Project
Get involved: Jamie Oliver and Food For Life’s Kitchen Garden Project

The partnership means that the Kitchen Garden Project digital resources will be available to all schools who sign up to the Food for Life Membership or Awards Packages.

The resources include delicious Jamie Oliver recipes for children, lesson plans, helpful teaching notes, growing units, curriculum-linked activities and nutrition information, all tailored to primary school-level cooking lessons and activities for garden-based learning.

A single subscription to both food education programmes means that you will have even more flexibility and support around practical cooking, growing and food-based learning.  Schools who have already been working with Food for Life and the Kitchen Garden Project have told us how well the resources complement each other.  We hope you think so too!

Find out more and see a sample of the resources