Published on May 26, 2022

Students from North Hertfordshire College’s Childcare and Health & Social Care courses have been volunteering at Roebuck Academy to help renovate their allotment ahead of this year’s growing season. The opportunity sprouted from the NHC Community Allotment project, designed to support NHC students in gardening, growing their own produce, and healthy eating, as well as developing skills they can apply in their future careers. 

As part of their volunteering work, NHC’s students have cleared the allotment area, filled the beds with compost, and prepared the area and materials so that Roebuck Academy’s children and teachers can use the area more easily. Our students also ran educational sessions with the children, teaching them how plants grow and helping them get their hands dirty by planting seeds. The pupils at Roebuck Academy will now be able to look after the plants and watch them grow, before reaping the harvest over the coming months. 

Mrs Jarman, Science lead and Year 4 teacher at Roebuck Academy, commented on the impact of the visit on her students, saying: “Our pupils have been keen to look after these plants and have noticed lots of changes already. We hope that we will be able to continue this partnership in the future.” 

NHC’s students certainly enjoyed the volunteering project too. Ciara Jones, one of our Childcare students, said: “I was proud to be part of the team renovating the Roebuck allotment. It was a real confidence booster.” 

This volunteering opportunity stems from a longstanding relationship between North Hertfordshire College’s Childcare and Health & Social Care departments, NHC Community Allotment Project Leader Paul Dee, and Roebuck Academy. Earlier in the 21/22 academic year, our students worked with Year 1 pupils from Roebuck Academy to run a series of hands-on educational activities about how plants grow. Not only does this benefit Roebuck Academy’s students by linking to the Key Stage 1 science curriculum, but it also provides our students with practical knowledge of how to work with young children (particularly outside a classroom) and encourages participation in activities. 

Plus, Roebuck Academy has achieved five-star accreditation in the national RHS School Gardening Programme. This award is the highest level of achievement available and demonstrates a commitment to gardening within the school’s values – making Roebuck Academy’s allotment a perfect place for our students to get involved! 

Mrs Hashemi, a Year 2 teacher at Roebuck Academy, said of the experience: “Year 2 enjoyed working with the students from NHC to launch their science topic, ‘The Apprentice Gardener.’ It was fantastic to work in partnership with an expert gardener who could guide us in preparing the beds and choosing the right tools and plants to cultivate. The children loved working together with the NHC students to plant vegetables, ready for us to observe and care for them as they grow.” 

Paul Dee, Project Leader for the NHC Community Allotment, said: “It was great seeing the NHC students throwing themselves into volunteering to help the children at Roebuck. People get so much from volunteering, especially if it becomes a long-term habit, so it’s not just the school that benefits. Employers like to see volunteering on a CV, and it can help the volunteer feel good about themselves and improve their wellbeing – everyone’s a winner.” 

Great work from the Childcare and Health & Social Care students! We’re looking forward to seeing how the vegetables grow at Roebuck Academy, too.