Well, what a (school) year it has been. For both us and our students over at Sandymoor School. Whilst we have been busy building our business, our pupils have mirrored this activity at their own patch. The plot belongs to the pupils and they have done everything themselves. With our support; they have planned the plot, dug the beds, planted the seeds, cared for the plants and sold the produce.
When we started this project we envisaged a situation where the kids were not just growing veg, (although there is value in this) but selling it to the local community on a regular basis. We wanted to provide a platform by which the school could foster meaningful links with the local community, whilst allowing the kids a more open ended environment in which to develop. This project is not about ticking Ofsted boxes and abstract quantified data. It is about allowing the the pupils to take on a real business, allowing them to learn from their mistakes and to experience the dynamic world in to which they will inevitably graduate.
We are happy to say that the first year has been a resounding success. There have been tears along the way and we've lost a few at sea, but what the students have achieved is remarkable. During the summer term they built up a regular customer base and kept them well supplied with top quality salad. On top of that, they managed to sell all their produce at a local summer fair. After repaying their start up loan to the head, they made a healthy profit of 97 pounds.
Like us, Sandymoor School is still in its first year of existence. Next year will see more pupils arrive as the school grows and more space put aside for the market garden. We think we are on to something really special here and are very much looking forward to being part of the evolution of the school, the pupils and hopefully the way we do education in the UK.