Growing Schools Gardens Resources

NewGSLogoLoRes“We believe that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.” lotc-manifesto.pdf

On these pages you will find materials and links to help you deliver the best possible experience as an accredited GSGs garden. The Growing Schools programme has identified three areas that it regards as accessible to all as a framework for learning . They are:

  • Food and farming, including the managed countryside
  • Gardens, gardening and green spaces
  • Wildlife and the natural environment

Schools and other learning organisations engaging with GSGs will be therefore be looking to provide meaningful and relevant experiences in nature for their students within this framework.

Using the Resources

To make your search easier, we have grouped our Resource material into the following categories:

  1. Planting lists, schemes and propagation skills
  2. National curriculum links, lesson plans and investigations
  3. Curriculum development and research
  4. Current schemes and projects
  5. Resources and materials

Updating our Resources: BGEN is keen to expand and develop our GSGs resources, so if you know of any material or links that are not already included here please let us know.

BGEN members

With over 200 members around the UK, BGEN provides a specialist support and training network for professionals working in plant-related education. Its membership includes the UK’s leading botanic gardens and arboreta as well as zoos, public parks and gardens and a wide range of other organisations. BGEN members are in the vanguard of the GSGs accreditation scheme, already offering a range of benchmark learning experiences.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Durham University Botanic Garden

1. Planting lists, schemes and propagation skills

BGEN members have unrivalled experience and knowledge when it comes to plant propagation and cultivation, with many also offering world-class expertise in specialist areas. They’re an invaluable source of information on, for example:

  • Regional data on local varieties of fruit and vegetables, as well as locally rare and endangered wild species.
  • The creation, management and educational potential of wildlife habitats such as meadows, woodlands and wetlands.
  • The cultivation and ethno-botanical significance of non-indigenous economic crops such as rice, sugar cane, tea, coffee, yams, olives and citrus fruits.
  • Growing strategies and techniques that may be relevant to school or other communal garden projects

Contact your local BGEN members for further information

Other resources for plant cultivation:


The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners is the only full time professional organisation specifically representing the interests of allotment gardeners. Offers a good resource for ideas and advice on growing food, including step-by-step guide on getting started. Membership, open to all schools from pre-school to secondary, gives access to NSALG’s Seed Scheme for discounted seeds; to a quarterly magazine ‘Allotment and Leisure Gardener’, and information on what to grow.

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens Education and working with schools is a key part of the work of many city farms and community gardens. The FCFCG’s aim is to support the use of farming and gardening as an education tool and to promote the benefits of learning outside the normal classroom environment.

Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing, provides a wide range of downloadable ‘How to’ leaflets, covering many aspects of school gardening and includes teachers and student guides. The site also provides valuable information on the links between organic gardening and Key Stages 2 and 3 of the National Curriculum

The Royal Horticultural Society provides downloadable ‘Seasonal Gardening Advice’. The RHS Campaign for School Gardening is aimed at encouraging the development and use of school gardens. Teacher resources and CPD material are also available. The four RHS gardens are BGEN members.

Seed to Plate offers useful practical tips for plot designs and vegetable growing.

Eden Project Books publishes a wide range of engaging and educational material. For example Jo Elworthy’s George and Flora’s Secret Garden, 2010, sensitively matches pregnancy and birth with the nurturing and growth of a new vegetable garden.



Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. It provides practical, science-based advice, on safeguarding England’s natural resources and environment. In partnership with farmers and land managers; business and industry; planners and developers; national, regional and local government; interest groups and local communities it works with them to help them improve their local environment. Provides downloadable leaflets relating to wildlife gardening

The Wildlife Trusts – provide factsheets on wildlife gardening Although many woodlands, wetlands and meadows have been destroyed over the last 50 years, wildlife gardens act as vital ‘wildlife corridors’ linking up urban green spaces with the wider countryside and nature reserves. There are 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the whole of the UK. With 791,000 members, the trusts are the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species, whether they be in the countryside, in cities or at sea. 150,000 of our members belong to our junior branch, Wildlife Watch. The trusts manage 2,256 nature reserves covering more than 90,000 hectares. All 47 Wildlife Trusts are members of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) which also operates a separate Grants Unit administering major funds on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund and the Landfill Communities Fund. For more information on the grants unit visit


Learning Through Landscapes is a membership organisation giving comprehensive advice for transforming school grounds 1990, Learning through Landscapes has been campaigning on behalf of all children for better school grounds. School grounds play a vital role in every child’s learning and development. They are unique spaces, providing safe and diverse opportunities for understanding, achievement, healthy exercise and play. Some resources are available free-of-charge from its website, together with an index of resources and publications catalogue.

FACE (Farming & Countryside Education) – FACE is an independent charity whose aim is to educate children and young people about food and farming in a sustainable countryside. It has 
over 80 partner membership organisations commited to educational work associated with food, farming and the countryside.FACE aims to meet these educational needs by working with members and partners to promote visits to farms, and to provide easy access to a wide range of high-quality educational resources and activities to complement both school-based studies and outdoor visits.


2. National curriculum links, lesson plans and investigations


RHS –  Gardening and garden-related activities are highly relevant to most National Curriculum subject areas, from history and geography, creative writing and art to maths and science.  may be taught through gardening and related activities, and every element of a school garden can provide material and stimulus for education. at many levels. Lessons plans for a range of subjects in Key Stages 1-3 are available at

Soil Association – a founding principle of the Soil Association was to help educate the public about the connections between soil, food, the health of people and the health of the planet. It remains part of the Association’s core mission to inform and debate the future of food and farming, in the context of climate change, depleting resources and fluctuating energy prices. A range of resources and programmes supports the Soil Association’s education work. Contact the Soil Association for information on: the Food for Life Partnership; the Organic Farm School; Organic Apprenticeship Scheme; Resources for Schools; Visit an Organic Farm


RSPB – provides curriculum-linked teaching resources. These are linked to the national curricula/guidelines and are targeted at five age groups: 5 – 7, 7 – 11, 11 – 14, 14 – 16 and 16+. All primary resources are cross referenced with the National Numeracy Strategy for England and the national maths curricula.

Nature Detectives – is a Woodland Trust site with downloadable ideas, games and activities for children, plus suggestions for linking materials to the English KS2 science curriculum.


Science and Plants for Schools (Saps) Investigations – is a well resourced website containing many ideas for practical work, outlines for investigations and other supporting material for the curriculum. The resources are designed to be used in teaching and learning about plants with primary or secondary pupils. Effectively a super-index,  the website enables visitors to select curriculum stages and topics and examine the range of materials related to those topics before following the hotlinks to different worksheets, articles and other teaching resources/ideas.

Plants Café – plant science activities linked to food and conservation A pan-european collaborative project to deliver primary science about plants. UK project partners include the University of London, Institute of Education and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The project was initiated to encourage and help primary age schoolchildren across Europe to use an enquiry based approach to science. Over 40 resource activities are focused on plants – their growth, their importance economically and culturally and the need for their conservation. The activities are set out in easily accessible formats, listing the time and equipment needed and offering step by step teaching sequences. The website also provides images and further background information and guidelines on resources.


Edible Playgrounds is a Dorset Cereals initiative based on the US Edible Playgrounds ( project with many useful and practical ideas on teaching children to grow and cook their own food.


3. Curriculum development and research

Learning Outside the Classroom – promotes the benefits of learning outside the classroom, its position as a key component in the organisation of learning and the contribution it can make to raising achievement. The website site acts as a key hub, collating information, knowledge, expertise, guidance and resources.

Growing Schools – is the home page for the education initiative supporting teaching and learning in the outdoor environment. The Growing Schools website has been designed to support teachers in using the “outdoor classroom” as a resource across the curriculum for pupils of all ages. The Growing Schools programme supports the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto lotc-manifesto.pdf, and shares its conviction that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstance.

Education for Sustainable Development – is the home page for sustainable schools, incorporating the complementary strands of the government’s The Children’s Plan and its UK sustainable development strategy The Government’s goal is for every school to be a sustainable school by 2020 and a National Framework has been established to guide schools towards this target.



4. Current schemes and projects

EcoSchools – School grounds development is one of the nine key environmental topics within the EcoSchools scheme. These are: Water, Biodiversity, Energy, Global Perspectives, Healthy Living, Litter, School Grounds, Transport and Waste.Eco-Schools is one of five environmental education programmes run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) In addition to Eco-Schools, FEE runs Green Key, Young Reporters for the Environment, Blue Flag and Learning about Forests. There are 46 countries around the world that run the Eco-Schools programme, linking more than 40,000 schools.  Eco-Schools worldwide can network and explore ways of working together on environmental issues. Visit for further information.

Food for Life is a project encouraging the growing and cooking of local, seasonal and organic food in schools. Led by the Soil Association and supported by Garden Organic, the Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. The Food for Life Partnership brings together the practical expertise of the Focus on Food Campaign, Garden Organic and the Health Education Trust

RHS Campaign for School Gardening is a scheme to develop and use a school garden Teaching resources and a programme of CPDs are available, together with the opportunity of free school visits to one of the four RHS gardens?

BBC Breathing Places was was set up in 2005 to encourage people to help nature on their doorstep. Over 478,300 people, 1527,140 school children have been involved in 1381 events, planting 71,279 trees and flowers, creating 6780 wildlife homes and transforming 1,409,235 square metres of land. Breathing Places has around 183 partners, including most of the UK’s leading nature organisations. The website contains many project suggestions, case studies and an event finder.

RSPB – Wildlife Action Awards for Schools These awards are easy to take part in, and each pupil, class or year group receive awards for the actions they do. The DCSF provides guidelines showing how a range of award schemes and programmes contribute to the National Framework for Sustainable Schools

WWF – One Planet Schools is a scheme that builds upon the Sustainable Schools Initiative. Resources include Learn, WWF’s free poster resource that includes a poster image and quote, key questions, stimulus activity ideas and background information.

Woodland Trust Green Tree Schools Award Scheme Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. Over 2000 schools have registered with the award scheme.


5. Resources and materials

WWF – its working with schools web page is the gateway to a variety of WWF resources and projects.

Buglife – is the first organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. Buglife’s aim to halt the extinction of invertebrate species and to achieve sustainable populations of invertebrates.

Field Studies Council is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural world. Thousands of students every year experience the FSC through fieldwork and cross-curricular courses at its network of 17 centres across the UK. The FSC’s Outdoor Classroom provides fieldwork opportunities for all ages in some of the most spectacular sites and habitats in the UK. An extensive range of resources is available for teachers and students

Woodland Trust Surveys provides opportunities for students to record and view seasonal events that show the impact of climate change on wildlife (phenology). Opportunities to participate in BBC’s Springwatch and AutumnWatch surveys are also provided.

Nature in a Changing Climate: Phenology Uncovered is an innovative new title for teachers of 11 – 16 year olds, offering an imaginative cross-curricular approach, full of engaging activities for both classroom, outdoor and homework use.

BBC Gardening with Children developed in colaboration with the RHS the site contains gardening facts and activities aimed at 4-7 year olds.

Soil Association The Soil Association has a small collection of educational resources for primary school teachers to download and use in the classroom.
 These resources range from short films with related activities to more structured curriculum lessons. Resources for seconday schools include online farm trails, the One Planet Food film and crop and livestock factsheets. They are designed to provide teachers and students with information on the key elements of both organic and intensive farming.

Forestry Commission extensive education and teaching resources. See also

McGraw Hill Education publishes the latest edition of Good Practice in Science Teaching by Jonathan Osborne and Justin Dillon, 2010, which offers a comprehensive overview of the major areas of research and scholarship in science education.

Renewable World is a source of stimulating interactive games and activities, bringing the subject of sustainable development alive.

Global Gardens is a network for schools that have or are intending to develop gardens. Co-ordinated by RISC, the website aims to foster a critical awareness of the complex issues surrounding food production.

Millennium Seed Bank change/millennium-seed-bank/. Information on the importance of seed banking, the science behind seed conservation together with useful case studies.

The Green Wave is a global campaign designed to educate children and young people about biodiversity, in which students are encouraged to plant a locally important tree species on their school site.

Convention on Biological Diversity. Biodiversity is the basis for the sustainability, productivity and resilience of agriculture. This site offers a stimulating series of activities linking biodiversity to food production. Other useful material includes the United Nation’s interactive world hunger map and facts about the origin of different foods.

Green Exercise This University of Essex site publishes research material on the psychological benefits of human interaction with nature and green spaces.

INQUIRE is a new European Union project that aims to reinvigorate inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in formal and informal education systems (specifically Learning Outside the Classroom sites) throughout Europe. Designed to reflect how students actually learn, IBSE also engages them in the process of scientific inquiry. Increasingly it is seen as key to developing their scientific literacy, enhancing their understanding of scientific concepts and heightening their appreciation of how science works. A website and other resources are under development. For the latest information visit

KeyToNature is a European Union project linking 14 partners in 11 EU countries to produce over 1000 searchable identification tools. Available on the website are paper-free identification tools and a database of searchable images, as well as a teacher’s handbook.

UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is a convinced advocate of the use of schools gardens to enhance childhood nutrition and education and improve food security. Its accreditation scheme enables garden sites to examine and develop their practice. Visit


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