Schools should be 'forced' to employ horticulturists says Capel Manor principal

Every school should be required by the government to employ a professional horticulturalist, a Royal Horticultural Society careers conference heard last week.

Dr Steve Dowbiggin - image: HW
Dr Steve Dowbiggin - image: HW

Capel Manor College principal Steve Dowbiggin, one of the conference speakers, said the sector has suffered as a result of the "failure to promote horticultural education and training".

He added: "This has undermined the economic, cultural, social and environmental potential of horticulture."

Dowbiggin said that the failure to promote horticultural education and training was tantamount to "failing in something as important as literacy and numeracy because people don’t know how to grow their own food".

According to Dowbiggin, the sector needs to approach the government with a "20 to 30-year strategy" for improving horticultural education.

"We need a GCSE in Horticulture and schools should be forced to employ a professional horticulturalist – as a condition of their grant funding – because horticulture should be part of teaching art and science."

An RHS careers survey published last week showed that 70 per cent of all adults had not had horticulture "highlighted to them as an opportunity" by their teachers or careers advisers. A total of 1,000 adults aged 18 and above from across the UK took part in the survey, which took place in March 2012.

See HW's Horticultural Society Careers Conference analysis report


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