Lessons from the Garden

Mandy, a practitioner working at a school in Perth explains what she loves about her job:

It’s a beautiful setting - I’m outdoors all day which suits me fine - in all weathers. I love to see the change in the kids - getting them outside is a challenge but once we get outside, watching how their faces change and watching how their demeanour changes. It’s great – I love to see it, that’s the reward for me.

I do lesson plans every week and I always have in indoor one, an outdoor one and an alternative one. You have to have lots of ideas. I am working with one boy who last week came with another boy. They were sat having a cigarette, not engaging. I asked them if they wanted to join me and it was the best afternoon we’ve ever had! They were laughing, they worked and grafted the whole afternoon, filling up barrow-loads of soil and raking it out into the raised beds, helping to put the plastic on. It was a brilliant afternoon! They slept that night! That’s another benefit - instead of being up late, they’re tired and can get a good sleep – it’s a win-win.

Their moods change. They come out tired or unenthusiastic, or sometimes engaged and ready, but you just see that spark that goes on in their eyes - passion that comes out and it’s just fab - I love it. They go away feeling that they’ve achieved something, feeling they can do something. And for me, if they’re not good at English and Maths and they’re inside and it’s all failure, failure, failure, they can go away knowing, “I can do that.” I really want him to go away and know, “I could do this for a living.”

With thanks to Fiona Mackintosh