Inclusive Learning students at West London College are celebrating their first Royal Horticultural Society and West London College Gardening Award having successfully created an enterprise initiative; the Polytunnel Gardening and Animal Project.
The project, based at Hammersmith & Fulham College, included growing and selling gardening produce in a state-of-the-art polytunnel greenhouse and caring for animals, including the Inclusive Learning mascot, a rabbit called Rex!
College students also joined the RHS campaign for promoting School Gardening, led by their teacher Susana Cortez, working on Level 1 projects up to the Level 4 project; Developing a Sustainable Garden.
The garden is home to two ponds for aquatic plants as well as areas for fruit, vegetables and flowers. All the vegetables harvested by the students are sold through an enterprise project to raise funds for the Inclusive Learning gardening and animal care projects at Hammersmith & Fulham College.
Inclusive Learning courses are for students with profound or complex learning difficulties. The enterprise and gardening courses are designed to develop these skills and also improve their independent living with the opportunity to develop greater independence with personal hygiene, basic cooking, healthy exercise, employability and communicating with others. They also benefit from animal interaction, which results in promoting positive mood and teamwork among the students.
Susana Cortez, Inclusive Learning teacher at West London College, said: “We have found that having Rex the Rabbit in the class this year has added extra motivation to many students. I can see an increase in the number of interactions results in a positive mood and empathy development. Interacting with Rex is also improving the students’ self-confidence and the constant engagement has improved their attention, curiosity, and passion for learning. When students are inquisitive, interested, or inspired, they learn more and in a better way.”
As part of the project, the students use technology and books to explore animal care subjects. They are responsible for looking after Rex, creating a weekly menu and a healthy checklist every month.