Combe Pafford Business & Enterprise School, situated near the coast in Torquay, caters for 185 boys and girls who have moderate learning difficulties, physical difficulties or autism, with a strong focus on vocational activities. In the past, the students were sent to South Devon College on Link Courses to get their first taste of vocational experience, but when the College relocated to Paignton, the school decided to run their own courses such as Hairdressing, Construction, Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Horticulture. The school’s original metal framed glass greenhouse was modest in size and unsuitable for this purpose, hence the school purchased a Keder School Greenhouse in 2006 as recommended by the Head Gardener at nearby Brunel Manor.
Brunel Manor is a Christian Hotel & Conference Centre and was one of the homes of British mechanic and civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The current owners have been restoring the gardens according to the plans found in his diaries and were delighted to be able to offer the school some free space on their land for the Keder School Greenhouse. The school had already decided to move its gardening activities off-site and away from the school grounds as they had suffered some damage in the past from vandalism.
Students from Years 10 & 11 are able to study for their City & Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Practical Horticulture Skills in this idyllic setting on Monday & Friday afternoons. The peace and quiet in the school greenhouse is particularly beneficial to students with autism and they enjoy growing plants both in the greenhouse and in adjoining floral beds, as well as helping with routine maintenance tasks in the grounds of the Manor.
Edward Thompson, Assistant Head Teacher, explains why the Keder School Greenhouse is ideal for their activities: “The structure offers a good, versatile teaching space with room for storage of tools and equipment and doubles as a small classroom if it’s raining. We have also had some success in selling the tuition to other schools who wish to offer Horticulture to their pupils as part of the curriculum. It could well be that local primary schools may be interested in using our facility in the future.” He adds: “Keder provided a very good service; the guys came when they said they would, and even stayed at Brunel Manor when they were installing the greenhouse!”
The durability of the Keder Greenhouse is a major plus for this school, particularly during the summer months when it is not used and the fact that they have enjoyed six years of maintenance-free usage of the greenhouse, during which time they have never had to call Keder once to report a problem. A great testament to an excellent product!