Neale-Wade Academy in March, Cambridgeshire has received a top award from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in recognition of its gardening achievements.

The Academy has been named as an ‘RHS Five Star Gardening School’ after proving that it is among the best in the UK at using gardening to create really inspiring teaching and learning.

The award recognises those schools reaching Level 5, the highest level available in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, a nationwide initiative that encourages and supports schools to provide all children with the opportunity to learn through gardening.

To be awarded the highest accolade, that only around 1% of schools achieve, the school had to meet strict criteria to show that the garden is well-used for learning and important to the local community. 

The green fingered pupils shared their love and knowledge of gardening with the local community, developing and sharing their skills in growing, cooking, selling, eating their home grown plants.  Their highlights and events include their annual garden party, strawberry party, jam making lessons, apple crumble bake-offs, composting and pumpkin competitions.  Neale Wade gardeners share their expertise with the younger gardeners at Westwood Primary school by helping them to grow their own fruits and vegetables.  The garden has also won nominations in the Anglia in Bloom for best Grow your Own category for the last 2 years.

Neale Wade Academy has been a member of the Campaign since 2009 and has worked its way up through the awards.

Teacher, Jan Holdich said “We are really proud to receive this award.  We have quietly worked on the garden projects for many years and it has given so many students lots of skills for life, health, business, team work and fun.  All of our student gardeners past and present have contributed in so many ways so it lovely for them to gain this high recognition.  We are looking forward to investing the award money wisely in raspberry beds, aprons, and more raised beds.  A personal thank you to all the gardening students, Westwood Primary school, March Lions, Greenvale Potatoes, March in Bloom, TTS and Delfland nurseries for their support and encouragement, as well as to Angela Mayes, Julie Watts and all the site staff at the Academy for their invaluable help and support.

As a reward for reaching this level, the school will receive £200 worth of National Garden Gift Vouchers, two ‘RHS Five Star Gardening School’ plaques to display in the grounds and entrance hall, along with a framed Level 5 certificate and the right to display the level 5 logo on its stationery and website.  

Claire Custance, RHS Skills Development Manager, said: “We are very proud of everything Neale-Wade Academy has achieved.  The garden is used as an ‘outdoor classroom’ to really bring the curriculum to life and the pupils are incredibly knowledgeable. 

“An important part of reaching this level is that the school also shares the many benefits of gardening with the local community, either by inviting people to events at the school or by helping with a community gardening project in the local area.”