A Coventry secondary school will be the first in the country to offer an alternative qualification worth three GCSEs after the successful launch of a horticulture education course.
Roots to Fruit Midlands has announced a partnership with the Romero Catholic Academy that will see pupils at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School able to complete the social enterprise’s Level 2 Practical Horticulture Skills course as part of their Year 10 and 11 studies – equal to a one-year head start on other school leavers.
Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School will be first and only secondary school in the country offering the qualification, which is the equivalent of up to three GCSEs at grade C or above.
The course will launch in the 2023/24 academic year, and comes after a year-long partnership between Roots to Fruit Midlands and the Romero Catholic Academy, which has seen 22 Cardinal Wiseman pupils engage with the programme, with seven gaining Level 1 qualifications on top of their curriculum learning.
Level 2 courses are normally taken after leaving school and take up to two years to complete, but Roots to Fruit Midlands will offer the course, which combines practical skills and scientific knowledge with outdoor learning, to pupils aged 14 and over to complete in one academic year – giving pupils a one-year head start on careers in horticulture, natural sciences, landscaping and other related fields.
The Sutton Coldfield-based social enterprise, which was established by Jonathan Ensell in 2013, has also been working with primary schools across the West Midlands to link plant science to the curriculum and build on classroom learning.
The sessions are designed to be productive for learners of all abilities, but also provide respite from typical classroom learning and boost pupils’ mental health through physical, outdoor activity.
Jonathan Ensell, Director of Roots to Fruit Midlands, said: “So many of our core values are aligned with the Romero Catholic Academy, and this new partnership represents our first opportunity to focus on supporting pupils in advance of school leaving age, having worked with other age groups across schools in the Midlands.
“With these courses, we want to support pupils who may struggle with traditional academic learning and bring a feel-good factor to their education, while still incorporating valued skills and knowledge that apply to a vast number of careers and industries.
“It’s not just the practical outdoor facilities and green spaces at Cardinal Wiseman that make it a fantastic school to be working with, but the values of the whole Romero Catholic Academy, none more so than the sheer amount of care that they give to every child.
“As a social enterprise and an advocate for education of all ages, we are thrilled to be working with them, and can’t wait to get started next year.”
Zoe Seth, Operations Manager at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, said: “The impact that Roots to Fruit has had on pupils has been incredible, and we are thrilled that they have chosen Cardinal Wiseman as the first school to launch their new Level 2 course.
“We are always looking for ways to support all learners and this represents a real chance to give pupils the qualifications to back that up and lay solid foundations for their careers.”
Matthew Everett, Principal at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, said: “Jon and the whole Roots to Fruit team have been phenomenal since our partnership began and we cannot wait to begin the next stage of the journey.
“We are always looking at new ways to offer the best and we truly believe that this is something that will broaden our curriculum offer and give students exposure to practical skills that they might not get until much later in their educational journey.”
For more information about Roots to Fruit Midlands visit https://rootstofruit.co.uk/