Hillier Case Study

An issue that concerns many interviewees was the apparent lack of communication between schools and the horticulture industry. The industry has traditionally been perceived as less efficient and technical than it has become. Engaging the education sector is crucial if we are to maintain a skilled and motivated workforce.

One company that has done this successfully is Hillier Nurseries – a leading supplier of plants to the horticultural industry throughout the UK which also runs 14 garden centres. You can download the full 4 page case study here.

When the  Mountbatten School in Romsey needed help to deliver a new course Hillier were happy to help and went on to devise a programme of study ‘Growing with Hillier’

Diana McDonnell, Mountbatten’s Deputy Head, had originally sought work placements for one day a week for students taking a course in ‘Land and Environment’. Diana approached Emma Fell, a section leader at Hillier, about the assessment required for the course. Emma immediately set about developing a programme to address all the criteria for assessment. What evolved was the ‘Growing with Hillier’ course covering two units: ‘Horticulture’ and ‘Plants and soil’. Here Emma describes how she went about it.

Two groups of students followed the course – a Saturday group who were paid for working at the nursery,and a Thursday group.

The School has a lot of latitude in how it organises these courses particularly in the balance between traditional taught materials and the work placement activity carried out by Hillier.

The course criteria set out what students have to know or be able to do. It’s then up to the school to devise a mechanism combining taught modules with assessment and verification for practical work. Growing with Hillier provides an effective induction into Health and Safety and supplies the students with a tee shirt and workbook covering:

  1. Lifting
  2. Potting
  3. Clearing and recycling
  4. Incoming stock management
  5. Weeding
  6. Plant husbandry including watering and pests and diseases

Emma recognised the potential of one student, Jack Stride. He was not afraid of hard physical work, of getting wet and dirty, or of having a go at anything new.  Just as she had approached the level one course, Emma devised a Level 2 assessment programme in Horticulture.  Jack was successful and he is joining Hillier as an apprentice in July.