Gatwick and Wakehurst gardens link up to help schools

Wakehurst Place. Photo: Jim Holden
Wakehurst Place. Photo: Jim Holden

London Gatwick has today announced a new, year-long partnership with Kew’s wild botanic garden Wakehurst, at Ardingly, to support a bursary programme for schools in the South-East.

It will cover the cost of travel to the site for schools with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, enabling them to learn about seed conservation and the research work of Kew’s scientists.

Wakehurst, is funded and managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew.

There are more than 500 acres of botanic gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve containing wetlands and meadowland to explore. It is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank, the largest seed conservation project in the world.

Wakehurst also provides a wide variety of educational activities for students, which meet curriculum targets across a range of subjects including: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The RBG Kew schools bursary programme is aimed at Key Stage 2 (7 to 11 years old) students at schools with a higher level of pupil premium funding.

These are often situated in catchment areas with a range of social and economic challenges and where achievement is below the national average. These schools are less likely to be able to raise funds for out-of-school visits.

In support of the bursary programme, Gatwick Airport is funding the travel costs for these schools to visit Wakehurst, which receives an average of 10,000 school children annually.

The partnership, which also provides corporate membership benefits for the airport’s staff, sits within Gatwick’s Community Engagement ‘Inform, Inspire, Invest’ education strategy, including partnerships with other STEM initiatives, such as the Big Bang Fair and Learn Live broadcasts.

Gatwick Airport’s Head of Community Engagement, Alison Addy, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Wakehurst to provide an opportunity for students to visit and develop their understanding of the important conservation work which takes place at the botanic garden.

“It is our aim to inform and inspire the next generation of young people to take an interest in STEM related opportunities such as this, which will in turn help them develop the skills they need for their future careers.”

Tony Sweeney, Director of Wakehurst, said: “There is so much to see and learn at Wakehurst. We find that students are fascinated by the incredible plants, trees and landscape as well as what’s happening inside the science labs of the world class Millennium Seed Bank.

“We are 100% committed to sharing our knowledge and passion for plants with students, hoping to inspire a love of the natural world so they become its champions, guardians and perhaps future researchers,

“We are thrilled to be bringing more students to experience this thanks to the new partnership with Gatwick Airport.”