Impact of School Gardening on Learning ~ Royal Horticultural Society

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Impact of School Gardening on Learning ~ Royal Horticultural Society ` For more information, Please see websites below: ` Organic Edible Schoolyards & Gardening with Children http://scribd.com/doc/239851214 ` Double Food Production from your School Garden with Organic Tech http://scribd.com/doc/239851079 ` Free School Gardening Art Posters http://scribd.com/doc/239851159` ` Companion Planting Increases Food Production from School Gardens http://scribd.com/doc/239851159 ` Healthy Foods Dramatically Improves Student Academic Success http://scribd.com/doc/239851348 ` City Chickens for your Organic School Garden http://scribd.com/doc/239850440 ` Simple Square Foot Gardening for Schools - Teacher Guide http://scribd.com/doc/239851110
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  • 1. National Foundation for Educational Research Impact of school gardening on learning Final report submitted to the Royal Horticultural Society Rowena Passy Marian Morris Frances Reed
  • 2. Contents Acknowledgements i Executive Summary ii 1. Introduction 4 1.1. The RHS campaign 5 1.2. The research study 6 1.3. The case-study schools 7 2. Gardens in Practice 11 2.1 The starting point 11 2.2 Managing the school garden 12 2.3 The RHS Campaign for School Gardening 14 3. Learning through gardens 18 3.1 Cognitive outcomes 19 3.2 Affective outcomes 22 3.3 Behavioural/physical outcomes 25 3.4 Interpersonal/social outcomes 28 3.5 Embedding the garden into the curriculum 30 4. Every Child Matters 34 4.1 Be healthy 35 4.2 Stay safe 36 4.3 Enjoy and achieve 38 4.3 Make a positive contribution 39 4.4 Achieve economic well-being 40 4.5 Community cohesion 42 4.6 In summary 43 5. Reflections and recommendations 44 5.1. For Primary Care Trusts, the School Food Trust and CAMHS 44 5.2. For Local Authorities 45 5.3. For Schools 46 5.4. For the RHS and the Campaign for School Gardening 47 5.5. In summary 47 A. Methodological appendix 49 A.1 Phase 1 Desk study 49 A.2 Phase 2 Case studies 51
  • 3. i Acknowledgements The research team would like to thank the Royal Horticultural Society project leaders Ruth Taylor, Jacky Chave and Abigail Page for their support and guidance during the course of the research. Thanks are also due to Maureen Greenaway, who provided admirable administrative support, and to colleagues in the Research Data Services and the Statistics Research and Analysis Group at NFER. Finally we would like to offer grateful thanks the case study schools, who all gave so generously of their time: All Saints Church of England Primary School Broadlands Primary School Down Hall Primary School Forster Park Primary School Markington Church of England Primary School Millennium Primary School Norbridge Primary School Paulton Junior School Picklenash Junior School Vaughan Nursery, First and Middle School
  • 4. ii Executive Summary Following the launch of the Campaign for School Gardening in 2007, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to assess the impact of school gardening on children’s learning and behaviour. This report presents the findings from the qualitative study of a representative sample of ten schools participating in the Campaign. The key findings are as follows: The overarching aim of the Campaign is to raise the profile of gardens as a natural, sustainable resource that has the capacity to offer curricular, social and emotional benefits to pupils. The findings show that the Campaign can support schools in addressing these issues in a whole-school context. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening has been successful in recruiting 11,500 primary schools. Its most noteworthy contributions have been the ways in which it has provided a focus and structure for the organisation of (often pre-existing) gardens in schools, facilitating progress and recognising and rewarding their efforts. Schools have particularly welcomed the support and training that the Campaign has made available. Outcomes from involving pupils in school gardening were reported as including:  Greater scientific knowledge and understanding.  Enhanced literacy and numeracy, including the use of a wider vocabulary and greater oracy skills.  Increased awareness of the seasons and understanding of food production.  Increased confidence, resilience and self-esteem.  Development of physical skills, including fine motor skills.  Development of a sense of responsibility.  A positive attitude to healthy food choices.  Positive behaviour.  Improvements in emotional well-being. School gardens have proved to be a source not only of learning outcomes for pupils, but also for other wider outcomes around both the Every Child Matters agenda and the wider duty of community cohesion. Schools had used the gardens to promote the development of active citizens as well as independent learners and had observed changes not only in the children, but in attitudes to the school within the local community. Schools reported a number of key ingredients to embedding gardening into the curriculum. These included the active support of the headteacher, a key member of staff who drives the work in the garden, ensuring the amount of work is manageable, and giving the garden a high profile within the school.
  • 5. Challenges with managing the garden within schools included the time and effort involved in developing and managing the site, funding, and involving the whole school community. Schools reported a range of both strategic and practical responses to these challenges. iii
  • 6. 4 1. Introduction The Campaign for School Gardening, launched in 2007 by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has a place in the growing number of educational initiatives (such as healthy schools, sustainable schools, eco-schools, the Forest Schools movement and Building Schools for the Future) that have sought to bring together the two key issues of sustainable development and healthy living in recent years. Increasing focus on these matters has been evident in politics, in academic life and in the media, with concerns voiced about environmental damage, rising rates of obesity, decreased physical activity in childhood and a belief that children and young people are increasingly distanced from the natural world, something that Louv (20081) calls ‘nature deficit disorder’. No one initiative can address all of these concerns, a fact recognised in the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto (2006), which encouraged schools to provide all children with high-quality outdoor education throughout the course of their school life 2. Research suggests that such endeavours can expand pupils’ awareness of the natural world and promote their cognitive, social and personal development (Davis and Waite, 20043; Dillon et al., 20054). Learning outside in the natural environment is thus believed to make an important contribution to learners’ behaviour as well as to their motivation and attainment. Part of this entails developing pupils’ understanding of their own surroundings so that they might understand their environment and be informed participants. For many schools (and for many children), however, programmes of outdoor learning that involve travel, and its attendant costs and risks, are not always feasible. Attention turns, therefore, to the school grounds and an increasingly important part of outdoor education comes in the form of schools integrating the use of their own grounds into the curriculum; school gardens are seen as playing a critical role in this. The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) website listed a number of school garden-related activities, including Growing Schools Garden, Duchy Originals Organic Gardens for Schools, Morrison’s ‘Let’s Grow’ Campaign, Get Your Hands Dirty and the Royal Horticultural Society’s 1 Louv, R. (2008) Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder, New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2 DfES (2006) Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto. London: HMSO. 3 Davis, B & Waite, S. (2005) Forest Schools: an evaluation of the opportunities and challenges in Early Years. Final report, http://www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/oelresnet/waite.html. 4 Dillon, J., Morris, M., O’Donnell, L., Reid, A., Rickinson, M. & Scott, W. 2005. Engaging and Learning with the Outdoors: the final report of the outdoor classroom in a rural context action research project, Slough: NFER.
  • 7. (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening. Amongst this array of targeted outdoor initiatives, what has been the particular contribution, if any, of the RHS Campaign to children’s learning, understanding and behaviour? 5 1.1. The RHS campaign The RHS Campaign has four aims and objectives: To encourage all schools to get growing, and to acknowledge the right of every child to get involved in gardening. To demonstrate the value of gardening in enriching the curriculum, teaching life skills and contributing to children’s mental and physical health. To convince everyone involved with education in schools of the value of gardening in developing active citizens and carers for the environment. To show how gardening can contribute to a sustainable environment. The Campaign differs from other school gardening initiatives in that it involves providing advice and information on school gardens together with continuing professional development for teachers. Registered schools receive benefits and rewards when they have achieved each of the five levels on the benchmarking scheme, and receive free seeds for their gardens. The overarching aim is to raise the profile of gardens as a natural, sustainable resource that has the capacity to offer curricular, social and emotional benefits to pupils. One year after the launch of the Campaign, the RHS commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to evaluate the impact of school gardening on school children’s learning and behaviour. At that stage, the Campaign had recruited in excess of 6000 educational institutions, over 80 per cent of which (5050) were primary schools, the key target for the Campaign. NFER’s analysis of the RHS database (see Appendix A) suggested that, in its early stages, the Campaign appeared to be particularly successful in engaging high-performing schools and schools in urban and more affluent areas, especially in Yorkshire and the Humber, the South East and the Eastern regions. Even so, the success of special schools and schools with a high percentage (more than 50 per cent) of speakers of a first language other than English (EAL learners) in achieving the highest levels in the benchmarking exercise (levels 4 and 5) was an encouraging sign that the Campaign itself was inclusive and had the capacity to enable all types of school to participate fully in getting children involved in gardening.
  • 8. In April 2010 the Campaign had registered 11,500 members, and is approaching its aim of enrolling 80 per cent of all primary schools in the UK. At this stage, therefore, the research project investigated the extent to which the Campaign had succeeded in meeting its other aims of enriching the curriculum and contributing to children’s mental and physical health. Has the strategy of information, advice, resources and teacher development led to enhanced learning outcomes for children? What other outcomes (for children, teachers and the wider community) appear to be associated with introducing the Campaign? What can we learn to improve the Campaign for the future? 6 1.2. The research study Given the varied backgrounds of the schools (some of which had been involved in gardening for some time and some of which were relatively new to the process) the nature of the activities that would be undertaken in schools (which could be confined to a single subject area and teacher or teaching assistant (TA) or which could encompass an integrated cross-curricular approach) and the nature of the RHS campaign (a voluntary programme with broadly defined aims for schools or pupils), it was decided to focus on a largely qualitative study, informed by quantitative data from the RHS and from schools themselves. The research was conducted in two phases, described in more detail in Appendix A. During the first phase, a desk study, the team analysed data available on the RHS website on schools participating in the Campaign. It looked not only at the extent of penetration of the Campaign and the level of success achieved by participating schools, but at the attainment levels and deprivation indices of participating schools. A detailed report of the findings was submitted to the RHS in spring 2009 and was used to review and augment monitoring activities and, more importantly, to inform their strategy for targeting and supporting schools using the Campaign. The second phase of the study was based on a two stage case-study approach to a representative sample of ten schools participating in the Campaign. This report draws primarily on the key findings from these visits, which took place between June and November 2009. This part of the research involved looking closely at what schools were doing and the impact that the Campaign had on their activities (reported in Chapter 2), the wider learning outcomes for children, exploring the impact on cognitive, affective, behavioural, physical and social and interpersonal outcomes
  • 9. (Chapter 3), and the impact that the Campaign has had on children’s outcomes under the Every Child Matters (ECM) and community cohesion agendas (Chapter 4). The ECM agenda states that children and young people should be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being; the community cohesion agenda is related to schools’ duty to promote positive community relations. The final chapter offers reflections on the findings and recommendations arising from the research. Appendix A at the end of the report provides a more detailed methodology. 7 1.3. The case-study schools School One is a medium-sized infant and junior school that is located in an urban environment in the East Midlands. It has a lower than average number of pupils that are entitled to free school meals5 and that have special educational needs6. School examination results have been improving over the last three years, and in 2009 78% of pupils achieved key stage two level 4 in English, 91% in maths and 100% in science. This school has a full range of extended services, has been awarded the Healthy School mark and has the silver award for eco-schools. It has large grounds that include a wildlife area, a pond, two greenhouses and a number of different areas for growing vegetables, and has achieved the RHS benchmark level 3. School Two is a medium-sized school that is located in a semi-rural area in the South West. Almost all pupils are from white British backgrounds and very few speak English as an additional language.7 The proportion of pupils with special educational needs is close to the national average, as is the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals. Attainment levels are broadly in line with the national average,8 and Ofsted commented that pupils ‘have a good awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle’. The school has achieved the eco-school bronze award, and has large grounds that include a playground, a field, large vegetable plots, an orchard and a butterfly garden, and has achieved the RHS benchmark level 5. School Three is a medium-sized school found in a rural part of the South-West. It is a high-achieving school, with pupil key stage two attainment above national and local averages, and was graded ‘outstanding’ in its latest Ofsted report. The school has 5 The mean number of school pupils in England eligible for Free School Meals was 15.5% in 2008/09. 6 The mean number of pupils with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) was 2.8 in 2008/09. 7 The mean number of speakers of a first language other than English (EAL) was 13.5% in 2008/09. 8 71.8% of all primary school pupils in England achieved level 4 or above in 2008/09.
  • 10. relatively few pupils entitled to free school meals. It has the Healthy School mark, an Active Mark and is planning to become an eco-school. It has large grounds that include a forest school area, a trim trail, a courtyard garden, an orchard and different areas for growing flowers and vegetables, and has achieved the RHS benchmark level 5. School Four is a large primary that is situated in a challenging urban area in the South East. It has a high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals and a high proportion of pupils identified as having special educational needs. Key stage test results have improved to above average, and pupils were described in the latest Ofsted report as having ‘outstanding personal development’. The school has achieved the Healthy Schools award and the Sports Active Mark, and is working to become an eco-school. The school site is limited in area and largely covered by tarmac, and the school’s gardening activities take place in the allotment that is about three-quarters of a mile away. The school has achieved the RHS benchmark level 5. School Five is an urban inner-city school situated in a challenging area in a London Borough. It is above average size, has a socially and ethnically diverse school population and a relatively high turnover of pupils joining and leaving the school during the course of the year. A high proportion of pupils are eligible for free school meals and a relatively high proportion of pupils have English as an additional language. Key stage two attainment levels are below the national average, and Ofsted has commented that the school is ‘making good improvements in important areas’. The school has achieved the Healthy Schools Status, the eco-schools silver award, is working towards becoming a ‘green flag’ school, and was runner up in last year’s EDF eco-school of the year competition. It has an allotment plot in the grounds with tubs and beds planted up around the site; the school has won the Lewisham in Bloom 'Best in Show' Award 2009 and achieved the RHS benchmark level 5. School Six is a very small village primary school, situated in a sparsely-populated area Yorkshire and the Humber. The majority of pupils are white British and have English as their first language, and a minority have English as an additional language. A high proportion of pupils have special educational needs, and a low proportion are eligible for free school meals. Key stage two attainment is above average, and Ofsted reported that it is ‘a truly inclusive school; no matter the ability or background of the pupils, all succeed extremely well’. The school has achieved the Healthy School award. It has limited grounds that are used imaginatively to maximise the amount of area for growing plants, and has reached the RHS benchmark level 2. 8
  • 11. School Seven is a medium-sized infant and junior school situated in an urban area in the West Midlands. The majority of pupils are from white British backgrounds and the proportion that is eligible for free school meals is around that of the national average. Attainment in the school is low but rates of progress are increasing and, according to the latest Ofsted report, ‘pupils’ progress and their quality of learning are steadily strengthening’. Ofsted also noted that ‘pupils praise the effectiveness of the school council’s campaign to promote healthy lifestyles’; the school has achieved the eco-school silver award and two green flags. It has large grounds with a vegetable and a fruit garden, a sensory garden, a pond area, a large sports field and a forest school area, and has achieved the RHS benchmark level 3. School Eight is a large school located in an urban area in the Eastern region. Almost all pupils are of white British origin; a small proportion are eligible for free school meals and a small proportion have special educational needs. Pupils’ key stage two attainment is broadly in line with the national average, and Ofsted commented that the school ‘provides its pupils with a stimulating and caring learning environment in which children can enjoy an enriched curriculum’. The school has achieved the Healthy Schools award, holds the Activemark award, is an eco-school and a Rights Respecting School. The school site has a playground and a fenced vegetable- and fruit-growing garden as well as a pond and a wildlife area, and has achieved the RHS benchmark level 3. School Nine is a large school in a multicultural urban area in a London Borough. It has a high proportion of pupils who have English as an additional language, a
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