Horticulture Specialist: Paul Atkinson

Paul AtkinsonI started working at TreeHouse in August 2010 as the Horticulture Specialist; the position was only part time consisting of three days a week. Working at TreeHouse School couldn’t have been anymore different from my previous position. My background is in Horticulture, for the last twenty two years as Head Gardener at a public school in Kent.

I had no experience in teaching Horticulture to children and had no idea what to expect working here at TreeHouse. The only thing I can say now is that I wish the opportunity had come along sooner in my career. I am now working full time. TreeHouse School is a wonderful place to work and learn, all the staff here are so very committed to all the students achieving the best outcomes.

A typical day at TreeHouse for me, if there is one, is always rewarding. I start at 8.30 checking and replying to e-mails, then off to the garden to open up and check the polytunnel, green house and cold frames. Checking to see how the plants that the students have grown are doing. Then its back in to the school for staff and phase meetings, this is a great time to catch up on how the students are doing. Sessions start at 9am and this is anything from practicing putting protective clothing on to planting fruit trees in the new orchard.

In between the sessions there is planning time for lessons and creating garden stimuli to help in the lessons. Spread through the day are short meetings with staff about progress with students as well as responding to phase support calls for assistance with a pupil. Once all the sessions have finished at about 15.30 there is just enough time to tidy up the garden buildings and water anything that the students may have missed and catch up on paper work, class meetings and planning more lessons, then home at 4.30 tied but happy with what our students have achieved today.