Employability skills blossom at National Star
Equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the world of work after college is something that is done well at National Star.
Whether students aim to gain paid employment or would prefer to work as a volunteer for their favourite charity, our work outcomes tutors use a variety of teaching environments to embed essential maths, English and employability skills.
National Star’s polytunnel at Ullenwood is an amazing outdoor teaching space with students learning a variety of transferable skills as they plant vegetables and flowers together.
In partnership with the catering team from StarBistro, students are growing a wide variety of herbs, salad crops and other vegetables which will be used in the kitchen at the social enterprise. Students have worked out the profitability of growing vegetables from seed and fine-tuned their consultation and negotiation skills as they decide which crops to grow.
Within the accessible troughs, tended to by students, there are healthy crops of radish, garlic, carrots, broad beans and herbs. Plans are afoot to grow tomatoes, potatoes and other seasonal vegetables throughout the year.
The problem-solving and planning skills they are developing as they work out how to maximise the space available for seasonal crops bodes well for when they leave college – Nicky Harris, Work Outcomes Tutor
The temperature of the polytunnel is constantly monitored so that optimal growing conditions are maintained.
However, as celebrity gardeners like Monty Don and Carol Klein can testify, everything in the garden does not always come up smelling of roses and the students are learning a lot about failure and the need for resilience when crops fail.
‘Horticulture is the perfect tool to improve students’ employability skills,’ said Nicky Harris, Work Outcomes Tutor. ‘They develop essential teamwork skills as they take on different tasks and are practising their everyday maths skills without even realising they are doing so.
‘The problem-solving and planning skills they are developing as they work out how to maximise the space available for seasonal crops bodes well for when they leave college and have to think ahead in terms of planning their weekly budget and how they can be resourceful with what they have,’ added Nicky.