Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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AA supporting the RHS Green Plan It initiative

Last Updated:  18/07/2016

Why the RHS have developed this?

In 2013 and 14, the RHS released a report in collaboration with key industry partners ‘Horticulture Matters’ which highlights that the Horticulture Industry faces a crisis with an erosion of horticultural skills, which risk being lost within a generation, due to a lack of skills transference.

The report found that:

  • Over 70% of businesses struggle to find the skilled workers they need at every level of the industry
  • Opportunities for skills transference are dwindling as a large proportion of the skilled workforce near retirement
  • A horticultural career lacks appeal and there is a poor perception of the industry amongst young people

With no obvious horticultural industry role models for the young and a limited space on the secondary curriculum, it is vital that we engage pupils of secondary school age, inspiring them about our industry and shining the light on the diverse roles that they could pursue.

What is it?

  • Green plan it challenge is to engage secondary school students in years 8 and 9 to learn about plants, gain new skills and learn about the range of role in the horticulture industry
  • Students work alongside an industry mentor through a competitive process, to tackle a horticulture related challenge
  • Students present their ideas to industry experts at the completion of their project and we award prizes for the best project, most innovative, best teamwork and the pupils choice

We need support from those working in the industry in two ways:,/p>

As mentors

  • To work alongside a team of 6 pupils aged 12-13 and their teacher over a 10 week period
  • Commitment is 2.5 days (1/2 day training and 1 part day each for the launch and assessment) then about an hour a week which can be Skype/email support
  • You can see below a role profile/info for businesses considering support
  • Mentors Register here
  • We are in great need of mentors so if you can either take part or promote this to your networks that would be really helpful

As assessors

  • On the assessment day, panels of assessors go around and speak to the students about their work an ideas
  • This is a competitive process where we select best teamwork, best project, most innovative and there is also a pupil’s choice
  • This requires assessors to attend the event/s in December

The RHS are hosting 8 hubs across the country at:

Location Event 2016 Launch date Mentors needed
We are aiming for 20 max for each area
Birmingham Birmingham Botanic Gardens,
Westbourne Road, Edgbaston,
Birmingham B15 3TR
Telephone 0121 450 5093
23rd September 20
Manchester/Salford The Whitworth, University of Manchester,
Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER
12th September 20
Norwich Easton and Otley College 23rd September 15
Glasgow Glasgow Botanic Gardens September (TBC) 20
Bristol Bristol Botanic Gardens 16th September 20
Newcastle Northumberland College,
Kirkley Hall Campus,
Ponteland NE20 0AQ
27th September 15
London Capel Manor 30th September 20
Yorkshire RHS Garden Harlow Carr,
Crag Lane, Harrogate
28th September 15

Initial details and a video of the pilot the RHS held at Wisley last year can be seen here schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/careers/green-plan-it


RHS Green Plan It Challenge – Information for Businesses & HR Managers

Why Support This Project?

  • The project has been created to help change young people’s perceptions of horticulture and the pilot project did just that
  • It provides your company with the opportunity to inspire, engage and build connections with young people and the local secondary schools they attend
  • It provides highly motivating and engaging development opportunities for your staff who can volunteer

When and where will it happen?

  • It runs between September and December 2016 at eight locations around the country
  • For your local launch and celebration days we will confirm location and dates depending on which of your branches is able to get involved
  • A regional mentor training day will be held in July, at a local venue, dates to be confirmed

What training and support will be provided for volunteer mentors?

  • The RHS will provide a half-day volunteer mentor training session, helping the mentors develop the skills and confidence they need to support and coach a school team
  • The RHS will carry out full Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks for all mentors
  • The local RHS Community Outreach Advisor will support both the mentors and schools

What time commitment is required of the mentors?

  • Mentors are required to attend the half day training session and a launch and celebration day
  • In the 8-10 weeks between the events, managers are required to support mentors to spend at least one hour per week on this project. This time may be split between school visits, a visit to the mentors work place and remote contact such as emails or telephone calls
  • Mentors can contribute more of their free time towards the project if they wish to do so

What qualities do mentors need to have?

  • Mentors need to be passionate about horticulture and keen to share their knowledge
  • Experience of working with young people is great, but the enthusiasm to do so is vital
  • Mentors should also be keen to develop their own coaching skills

What is the outline project structure?

  • Your staff will be invited to complete a short application form
  • The RHS will match each volunteer mentor with local school team of up to six students
  • The volunteer mentors will participate in mentor training and DBS checks
  • At the regional project launch day each mentor will meet their school team
  • Mentors will coach their school teams for 8-10 weeks as they develop their designs
  • Mentors are encouraged to visit the school at least once, and invite the team to their place of work once, other contact is with the school teacher via email, telephone or Skype
  • Mentors attend the celebration day and are invited to be part of the assessment panel

How can we support the RHS project?

  • By providing enthusiastic volunteer mentors
  • By providing additional members for the assessment panel
  • By sponsoring prizes or trophies for winning teams
  • By promoting the project in local press

Interested becoming a mentor?

Register here

Mentor Role Description