Welcombe Hills School in Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire is a specialist college for visual and performing arts, working with students from 2½ – 19 years, catering for a range of additional learning needs. Horticulture plays an important part in their learning, and for three years the school has benefited from being able to work in a Keder greenhouse.
The Keder greenhouse is primarily used by the secondary school. Students have weekly lessons learning science skills, such as the importance of sunshine and water when they plant and grow seeds. They carry out experiments which teach them about nature. Students also learn about the correct way to use tools and how to take care of them, ensuring they are cleaned properly after use.
Tasks are set that are very effective in developing concentration, dexterity and communication skills in students with autism, Aspergers’ and Downs Syndrome.
Growing tomatoes and cucumbers
Lucy Strauss is the teacher in charge of the garden. She explains how their Keder Greenhouse has changed what the school has been able to grow: “The Keder Greenhouse is excellent. We have it split into two areas with bench space and raised beds, which staff and some of our autistic students built themselves. We currently have a Granddad called Brian who comes in and advises us on what to plant when!”
She continues, “We have three raised beds in the Keder house which are used for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes. Our students love making things like salsa, pickle and rhubarb cordial that they can eat, and sell to staff. They also create tips for canes to stop any accidental eye injuries. The money raised is used to buy seeds, and equipment such as canes and netting.”
The school is delighted that there is no maintenance required for the Keder Greenhouse and would highly recommend both the product and service. They are currently installing irrigation, making it accessible for wheelchairs, and have plans to install heating so it can be used in the winter.