Gardening workshops for students with additional needs

North Lincolnshire Museum Service offers a wide range of cross-curricular learning opportunities for all Key Stages. As well as our core school learning programme we also offer bespoke sessions for targeted groups.

Normanby Hall Country Park is the ideal location for bespoke sessions as it offers a range of opportunities. Last summer a small group of students with emotional needs from Huntcliff School were invited to come to the Walled Garden at Normanby Hall Country Park for a series of themed gardening sessions. The students were disengaged in the classroom setting and were taught as a separate group at school. They came to Normanby Hall for a couple of hours each week for five weeks last May and June.


Why Normanby Hall Country Park?

  • Being outside the school environment working with new people can have a positive impact on students.
  • It is peaceful in a garden. The colours, fragrances and birdsong lift your mood.
  • Caring for plants takes your mind away from your troubles and looking after something living gives you a sense of responsibility but without pressure.
  • The fresh air and exercise raises the level of endorphins, making you feel a sense of wellbeing.
  • Our workshops offer opportunities for students to work independently and as a group.


What did the students learn?

  • Team work, how to help and support each other with a task.
  • Working calmly, the distraction of gardening made them content and much less anxious than usual.
  • Knowledge and skills, how to use a selection of tools, recognise and classify plants and increase their understanding of the needs of plants.
  • Communicate with peers and leaders, to listen and follow instruction, to articulate their thoughts and feelings.
  • Those with O.C.D. learned that it is OK to get dirty hands.

Each week took a different theme: science, photography, art, literacy.   The students gardened together every week and took pride in doing a good job whether it was creating an herb garden, planting up a hanging basket, weeding or dead heading.

What did the students say at the end of the sessions?

“I love gardening”     “I find it really fun”      “Enjoyable”       “Awesome”

“I am going to start helping my Grandad in his garden.”

“It stops me from lashing out.”     “It’s fun”     “I lIke it”

What did the teachers say?

“We have really enjoyed watching the students develop: This is what we have noticed:

  • A student who was once very quiet and introverted has really grown in confidence. This student has forged a more positive relationship with his TA – he has asked questions more in class.
  • A student who is reluctant to do anything in the classroom has tried much harder with the thought of going to Gardening on Friday.
  • The group of girls have been much more tolerant of each other and of the boys.
  • Students are listening to each other more and learning to interact in a more positive way – their communication skills have definitely improved.
  • Considering that the equipment could be a potential problem, Health and Safety has been paramount and they have all adhered to the guidelines.
  • The nicest thing to witness is that our students are now working independently in the garden and asking for advice when they need it.
  • The delivery of the workshops were perfectly appropriate for our students. They were so positive, calm and purposeful and this was reflected in a learning environment that suited the students’ needs perfectly.
  • A great programme. Thank you for your hard work.”


We firmly believe that working alongside others in a garden can work wonders for a person’s wellbeing and can help improve physical health as well as mental health. The workshop works well with all different learning styles and is especially relevant to those that prefer hands on learning.

Contact us to find out more about all workshops we offer across North Lincolnshire Museum Service. Visit or telephone 01724 297055.


New Learning Garden at Normanby


We have been working to build a new garden for all our learning activities at Normanby. After many months of hard work, it is ready just in time for this beautiful weather!

The new space is designed for groups to learn about gardening through hands on activities, conducting scientific experiments and making observations.

We have developed a new garden workshop  called “Science in the Garden”. It is suitable for KS1 and 2 children. This workshop encourages children to explore the gardens and discover the Normanby Park potting shed. Then conduct scientific experiments to learn about soil, growing conditions and plants. Record observations and use the evidence to present findings to the group. Children will use gardening tools in this hands-on practical workshop.

We will also offer bespoke sessions for groups of older children or adults.  There is lots of evidence that suggests gardening is beneficial to our wellbeing. See our ‘about’ page for contact details to book.

The plants are ready to go in, the new garden is ready now. There is a potting shed, raised beds, poly tunnels and a greenhouse to work in. Your group will also get to do some gardening inside the walled garden and tropical greenhouse.

Rachel Holmes, Learning Officer

Follow up work from schools

At the end of each workshop we ask the children for feedback on what they have learnt and what they enjoyed the most. This is just a quick indication on what they have gained from the workshop. We also ask the teacher to complete a feedback form on whether the learning outcomes have been met and what we can improve for the future.

However, it is really nice when we receive work completed by the children when they return to school. We are able to see what they remember after their visit and what they have really learned from the experience. It also makes our staff feel really special.

These letters were received from Lincoln Gardens Primary School in Scunthorpe. We visited the year one class in November 2014 with our ‘Toy Story’ workshop. During the KS1 workshop the children were able to have a go at playing with toys from the Tudor period to the modern day. They also looked at what they are made of and how they worked.

Thanks to Lincoln Gardens Primary School for sending such lovely letters. We really like the pictures that you have drawn and the neat handwriting. There were so many fantastic examples, it was hard for us to pick out three to include.

First term of the New National Curriculum


It is nearly the end of the first term implementing the new Primary National Curriculum. We have been apprehensive over the last year wondering what the impact would be. We have spent the last year supporting our local teachers wherever we could. Both the teachers and ourselves have found it useful to network with each other and talk through some of the issues together. We may not have solved all the issues, but at least sharing concerns can make things a little easier. We meet with our primary history co-ordinators once a term.

The impact on our school programme has been quite varied. We haven’t seen a complete drop in our Victorian based workshops, though these are now mainly booked by KS1. Some schools are using the local history element to continue to study things the children love such as Victorian Laundry, Domestic Staff Required and Living on the Land.

Our archaeology based workshops have proven to be quite popular. We introduced the Mystery of Prehistory workshop at the start of this term. We have had excellent feedback for the workshop with many liking the ‘hands-on’ and ‘investigation’ features. One teacher said they liked ‘the quick pace of the activities, they grabbed the children’s attention’. We have also seen an increase in our Anglo Saxon and Viking workshops. Both of these workshops are being redeveloped at the moment and will be enhanced ready for the new term.

The greatest development this term was the development of outdoor workshops at Normanby Hall Country Park with a literacy or science theme. The Storytelling in the Woodland workshop which was introduced during the spring term has been especially popular in the autumn. This is the first time we have delivered an outdoor session outside of spring/summer and it worked really well. The feedback for the workshop has been fantastic with comments such as ‘The workshop was hands on and allowed the children to share ideas. Children were very excited about story writing due to the workshop’. This workshop really is one that can be booked all year around as the woodland environment changes each season so the inspiration for the story telling changes. We are able to adapt the workshop if the weather is so bad that the workshop has to be brought indoors.

We also developed a new workshop at a request from a local school. This is something that we haven’t done much of before, but realise we must do this more as the new curriculum develops. The Autumn Changes workshop was introduced as a teacher had concerns that her foundation class needed a bit more support with understanding seasonal changes. The ‘hands on’ workshop explores the scientific process of changing seasons looking at what happens to the leaves and animals in the woodland. The workshop uses songs and practical activities to help the children explore the changes in the environment for themselves. We can adapt this workshop for any seasonal changes.


We will continue to respond to the feedback we receive from our local schools and develop the workshops and services that they require. It has been a tiring but exciting term as both the Museum and Schools work through the new curriculum together.

Autumn inspiration


Since our storytelling area was launched at Normanby Hall Country Park this summer, we have had some fantastic workshops with schools. The workshop can be  delivered to Foundation and Primary key stage one and two. Each workshop is unique to each school, as it is the children that dictate the content. They use the surroundings and their own emotions and experiences to create their own story and share their story with the rest of the class. The workshop is great for literacy as they use different types of words, communicate with others. We encourage them to collect photos and recordings so they can write down the story back at school. We have had such a wide variety of stories including appearances of gruffalos, spaceships, trolls and fairies.

We have especially enjoyed schools booking sessions at our workshop this autumn. All of our other outdoor workshops rely on the spring and summer season, so it is great to be able to offer schools an experience in autumn. The woodland is such an amazing space to spark imagination and ideas and allow those creative juices to flow. It is even better in autumn when it is dry and cool and the leaves are starting to turn colour. The changing season makes the woodland seem more alive and the perfect setting for a magical story.

Being outdoors is also proven to boost children’s feel-good factors and make them feel better about themselves. As long as they are warm and dry, being outdoors can be a great way to inspire them and get them working in a different way.

To find out more about this workshop or any others that we offer visit

Third time awarded Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge

We are pleased to announce that we have received the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for the third consecutive time for North Lincolnshire Museum and Normanby Hall Country Park. The LOtC Quality Badge is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. It shows that we provide a good quality learning provision and that all of our activities are risk assessed. It also shows that we understand our schools’ needs and can tailor our offer to fit in with both current curriculum requirements and any specific requirements of the school.

There are many benefits of learning outside the classroom at North Lincolnshire Museum venues. By giving children new and exciting experiences it inspires them to reach their true potential. Our workshops are very hands on and can re-motivate children that do not thrive in a traditional classroom environment. They are especially beneficial to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with Special Education Needs.

However, It is not just about what happens outside the classroom, but also the impact this has when the children return to the classroom. It supports improved standards, raising attainment and improving discipline. Learning outside the classroom is also known to contribute significantly to improving pupils’ personal, social & emotional development.

To reduce the cost of providing learning outside the classroom, North Lincolnshire Museum Service is currently offering a few cost saving schemes for schools.

• Hornsby Travel are currently offering discounted coach travel for North Lincolnshire schools to visit the ‘We’ll take you there…’ 100 years of Hornsby Buses exhibition at North Lincolnshire Museum. The cost will be £20 from anywhere in North Lincolnshire for up to 53 passenger seats. A teacher’s pack accompanies the exhibition which includes KS1 & KS2 trails and suggestion activities for back at school. Children also receive free Hornsby Travel pencils to complete their trail. This offer is available until June 2014 and can also be used in conjunction with any workshop at North Lincolnshire Museum.

• Normanby Hall Country Park allows 25 free environmental visits for schools each year. These are available through the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, managed by Natural England. Teachers can enhance delivery of science and geography through a combination of guided and self-led activities in the parkland. Due to high demand, there is a limit of two classes per school.

The full ‘inspired learning’ school programme can be found on the North Lincolnshire Council website

You can also contact us on 01724 843533 or email