Learn and Grow

A 15-year vision to establish Learn and Grow as a consistent and dynamic Outdoor education resource

Learn and Grow

Learn and Grow origins?

As the number of participants increased, they told us they wanted additional activities. As a result, during 2016/7, we were able to provide ‘Grow your own lessons’ to seven schools and nurseries in Alexandria, Dumbarton and Renton. Our volunteers built growing spaces, cleared existing spaces and delivered sow and grow sessions to pupils.

Our friends at Bellsmyre Community Gardens had previously delivered similar activities working closely with the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. In 2017/18 additional partners came on board resulting in the development of a multi partner program. Securing funding, we commenced a pilot project across 22 schools and nurseries. The success of the pilot led to the formal launch of a full Learn and Grow in 2018/19.

What is Learn and Grow?

It’s the provision of an active community food growing space, outdoor education resource. in every school and early years in West Dunbartonshire supporting family participation in a well being activity.

Learn and Grow offers a lively, engaging, multi-sensory way to teach children and families about growing and eating healthy food all year round. Aside from the physical health benefits that eating well brings, learning in an outdoor environment combats Nature Deficit Disorder and has been shown to increase mental health by boosting mood, confidence and self-esteem.

We provide the opportunity for parents, family members and volunteers to participate with education colleagues to ensure children have the opportunity to participate in Learn and Grow activities at school and in their wider communities.

Learn and Grow aims?

Supporting Outdoor based curriculum learning

Improving physical health & mental well-being of pupils and families

Increasing the connection between schools and their local community

Encouraging enterprise skills & improving behaviour

Establish a Community led legacy framework

Transforming school and community grounds into vibrant outdoor teaching gardens that inspire hands-on learning and get children and families excited about growing and eating healthy food.

Learn and Grow

Learn and Grow Community Partners

The partnership is committed to engaging, motivating and equipping educational establishments to provide an active Community Food growing and outdoor education resource in every school in West Dunbartonshire, fully supported by and engaged with by residents, families and staff. Learn and Grow is a collaborative partnership of the following;

Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Campaign for School Gardening’

Bellsmyre Community Gardens

West Dunbartonshire Council Green space

West Dunbartonshire Council Education

Learning and Attainment

Growing West Dunbartonshire

The Leamy Foundation.

Better Views

Claire Ranjan PhD Research Student

Learn and Grow Supporters

Learn and Grow Activities

Growing space design and build investment

Growing space maintenance

What to grow, how to grow, Training and advice

Community Support

Award and recognition

Lesson plans design and delivery

Learn and Grow Website with schools/nurseries page

Learn & Grow Starter & Materials pack

Consultancy and support

Learn & Grow Outdoor education furniture

Learn & Grow Fundraising

For further information, please contact or email us or look at the Learn and Grow website

Learn and Grow Approach

Aims and objectives

Learn and Grow Delivery

Food Growing Schools and Nurseries in West Dunbartonshire

Learn and Grow Case Study - Auchnacraig ELCC

The Learn and Grow project in Auchnacraig Early Education and Childcare Centre has been an integral element in forging new partnerships with our local community and increasing parent’s participation in the life and development of the centre.

The outdoor learning space was tired and uninviting for the children to play and explore their interests. Equipment was unsafe and the Sensory Garden, including the forest school was overgrown and closed off due to the lack of maintenance. Much needed, vital resources remained stagnant. The staff team knew what they wanted to change but lacked the adequate skills and knowledge to achieve their goal.

The outdoor space has been transformed and is safe, vibrant and stimulating, we now have an amazing growing space both indoors and out. Learn and Grow, brought parents, community partners and volunteers from across West Dunbartonshire to build a new outdoor growing space including, orchard, soft fruit forest, raised beds and a polytunnel.

The Learn and Grow hit squad building the growing space.
The Learn and Grow hit squad building the growing space.

Learn and Grow
Learn and Grow

Staff, Partner groups and Parents making plans
Staff, Partner groups and Parents making plans

We recognised that a potential barrier was lack of knowledge, skills and self-confidence in people knowing what to grow, how to grow it and how to look after it.

Learn and Grow organised regular fun informal training sessions and workshops for both staff, parents and children which have had a huge impact not only in the centre but for children and families at home. They can choose when they want to help in the garden and spend as little or as much time as they want to.

‘Parental engagement in the centre has vastly improved because of the opportunities that are now available through the introduction of the project.’

Parents are now offering to paint fences or clear areas and have recently created ‘Muddy Fingers’ a WhatsApp chat group so they can co-ordinate and support weekly activities in the garden. Learn and Grow have committed to supporting these parents to become leaders in managing the garden project so that ultimately Auchnacraig ELCC will have a self-sufficient gardeners group run by parents, with the ability and confidence to pass on their knowledge to new parents sustaining the project throughout the community.

Children engage in a wider variety of experiences, encouraging curiosity and stimulating their interests.

A new growing station has been introduced indoors to compliment the learning outdoors, this is accompanied by the children’s responsibilities to look after living things such as our guinea pigs. Free flow play has now been introduced between the indoor and outdoor environment, enabling children to engage in a wider variety of experiences, encouraging curiosity and stimulating their interests.

The nursery garden is blooming with fruit and veg and so are the gardens in the Faifley community!! This year Auchnacraig ELCC won second place in the WDC Amazing Things Award largely due to the success of the Learn and Grow project.

Staff and Parent Feedback

Here are some comments from those who actively participated, showcasing the huge impact the Leamy Foundation has had in our nursey:

"The environment has become a safe and fun place to learn and play. We have grown as a team and community with just some seeds and soil!"

Claire Campbell, Early Education and Childcare Officer.

"The garden has been good for the staff team as it is encouraging us to get our hands dirty and be creative. It has helped us to develop our basic gardening skills and teach the children about respect and nurturing towards the plants/vegetables. I believe it has improved our mood and increased staff morale."

Susan Allsop, Early Education and Childcare Officer.

"Fab way to get involved and join in your child’s learning in the nursery environment, it also feels good to contribute to the nursery grounds too. And the kids get to see progress of their work as the flowers and veg grow."

Louise, amazing parent helper!

“This has been an amazing project to be part of and it continues to grow in excitement and anticipation for the staff, parents and young learners of Auchnacraig ELCC. Thank you to the Leamy Foundation for all you have done for us and your continued support and commitment”

Anne Rocks, Head of Centre.

Learn and Grow in West Dunbartonshire

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