New RHS report says school gardening boosts child development; teaches life skills and makes kids healthier and happier

New research by the RHS Gardening in Schools – A vital tool for children’s learning published today (28th June 2010) shows for the first time, the enormous impact gardening plays in a child’s wellbeing, learning and development.

Dr Simon Thornton Wood, Director of Science and Learning, RHS, said, “As the new coalition government considers a new approach to the primary curriculum, we hope they acknowledge the striking conclusions of our research and that gardens enable a   creative, flexible approach to teaching that has significant benefits.

“Schools which integrate gardens into the curriculum are developing children who are much more responsive to the challenges of adult life.”

Commissioned by the RHS from independent researchers the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the report highlights how schools which actively use a garden, develop ‘resilient,’ ‘ready to learn’ and ‘responsible’ children – 3R attributes that make up well-balanced, happier, healthy, rounded individuals.

The RHS believes these 3 R’s can be learnt when gardening is used as a teaching tool, not just an extra-curricular activity.

The NFER surveyed a selection of 1,300 school teachers and studied in-depth 10 schools belonging to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, from a large urban London primary to small village school in Yorkshire, to discover that gardening in schools encourages children to:

  • Become stronger, more active learners capable of thinking independently and adapting their skills and knowledge to new challenges at school and in future;
  • Gain a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life so they can achieve their goals and play a positive role in society;
  • Learn vital jobs skills such as presentation skills, communication and team work, and fuel their entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle as an important tool for success at school and beyond;
  • Develop the ability to work and communicate with people from all ages and backgrounds.

Gillian Pugh, Chair of the National Children’s Bureau and The Cambridge Primary Review, explains, “Not only does gardening provide opportunities for increasing scientific knowledge and understanding, and improving literacy, numeracy and oracy, but this report shows that it also improves pupils’ confidence, resilience and self-esteem.”

In 2007, the RHS Campaign for School Gardening was launched to encourage schools to create gardens. There are currently 12,000 schools signed up to the Campaign, benefiting over 2.5million pupils.

Over the next three years the RHS will campaign to get the benefits of gardening in schools better and more widely understood and train 4,500 teachers in how to use a garden as an essential teaching tool.

The RHS’ commitment to education is further demonstrated this week, as it opens its new multi-million pound green learning centre at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire. The building which is one of the greenest in the country is constructed from natural and recycled materials; has a grey water recycling system; passive solar heating and a green sedum roof and includes a zero carbon rating; a wind turbine and ground source heat pump. Made possible through the generosity of donors, it will enable the charity to educate over 10,000 thousand children and adults a year at Harlow Carr.

For more information on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, its new learning centre and to download a copy of the Gardening in Schools – A vital tool for children’s learning please visit