A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

Working with students with higher support needs

We support food-growing projects that work with students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD by using the garden as a tool to engage students and staff in training around health and well-being, community leadership and social enterprise. Our experience shows that working with SEND and BESD students improves their confidence, behaviour, and practical life-skills.

OrganicLea supports students with SEN and BESD in the following ways:

  • Grow Food in Your School – OrganicLea can support your school to use the garden as an effective teaching and learning tool throughout the school year. Our aim is to include students, staff, parents, and the whole community in the design, development and implementation of the garden. OrganicLea can provide experienced school gardeners 6 -30 hours a week for a term, one-year, or two years.
  • Accredited Training Programmes – OrganicLea runs accredited 6-week and 10-week sessions that allow students gain an entry level accreditation through AQA Unit Award Scheme. Some examples include: Taking Part in a Garden Enterprise, Seed to Plate: Skills in Growing and Eating Organic Fruit and Vegetables, and Introduction to Horticulture. These programs run during school hours or as part of enrichment programs. We have delivered these schemes to students with SEND students, BESD students, and LDD students. These sessions can run as holiday or enrichment, or run during school hours.
  • Alternative Provision – OrganicLea can support marginalised students to develop functional skills and self-awareness outside of mainstream classrooms. Our AP program is based at our main-growing site, Hawkwood Community Plant Nursery in Chingford. Our experience as educators has shown us that outdoor learning and physical work engages those most challenged by mainstream education. Students can be supported to gain up to a Level 1 Accreditation.

Other ways that we support schools:
• Visits to Hawkwood Plant Nursery – support 5-50 students to explore any aspect of food-growing at our 12-acre site, we can make this visit bespoke to link to students learning objectives including nutrition, PHSE, and STEM subjects.
• Half-day and Full-day Workshops – OrganicLea support workers can deliver workshops ranging from soil chemistry, cooking with seasonal fruit and vegetables, running a successful school market stall, and much more.
• Continuing Professional Development – OrganicLea can support school staff on how to use the garden as a teaching and learning tool to engage with students in creative maths and science exercises. Staff can be accredited up to a Level 1.


Please contact schools@organiclea.org.uk for more information.

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