New Summer 2017 Trial Places for Children 8+

The Garden is a democratic community for children, in St Werburghs, Bristol. It's child-led, play-based and largely outdoors. Children at this alternative education project decide how they spend their time in a rich, inspiring and natural environment. They solve problems collaboratively in daily democratic meetings.

Plans are progressing for new facilities to allow us to expand the number of places we can offer from September 2017 and following our successful trial places last summer we're happy to run a similar scheme this year. Places are available for children 8+ for one or two days a week (10am-3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) for this Summer Season at The Garden, which is from 6th June until 13th July. These places are very limited and children who have reserved to join us in September will be prioritised.

For more information, or to arrange a visit to The Garden please email thegardenbristol@gmail.com or call Emma on 07972 789409. You can also visit our website to find out more about the project: www.thegardenbristol.org

New Training Programme

The Garden is launching a new rolling programme of interactive training workshops for people who are exploring or already involved in setting up and running similar projects, or those who are interested in our approach and would like to use elements of it at home or professionally.

Upcoming dates:

  • Sunday 11th June 2017 - The Garden Essentials
  • Sunday 20th August 2017 - Setting Up a Democratic Community for Children
  • Sunday 22nd October 2017 - Emotional Wellbeing
  • Sunday 10th December 2017 - The Social Community
  • Sunday 18th February 2018 - Learner-led Pathways
  • Sunday 15th April 2018 - A Stimulating Environment

Please email thegardenbristol@gmail.com or visit our website for more information or to book.

 

 

Early Years Professional Vacancy

The Garden is looking to hire a part time early years professional to work within a small, supportive team, with a group of early years children (mostly aged 2-4 years), in a low child:adult ratio outdoor setting in St Werburghs, Bristol. The position is 12 hours per week (10 hours contact time) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the potential for more work in the future and for wraparound care provision for the children at our setting. The level of pay is £10-15/hour dependent on experience and qualifications. Ideally we're looking for someone to start on or before 8th November.

 

What is The Garden?

The Garden is an alternative education and childcare project that came from but is not exclusive to the home education community in Bristol. Our vision is for a self-directed, play-based space where children can decide how they spend their time and learn to build and maintain a community. Although there is a small indoor space, the setting is largely outdoors in an acre of privately owned woodland and meadow in the heart of St Werburghs.

Our values:

  • Play is the highest form of human expression

  • Community is central to wellbeing

  • Autonomy is key to fulfilment

  • Connection to nature is essential

You can find out more about our ethos and approach here: http://www.thegardenbristol.org/vision/

 

Job description

The facilitator will mainly be responsible for the pastoral care of the children.

 

Duties:

  • Ensuring children’s physical and emotional needs are met

  • Facilitating the children’s interests and play

  • Overseeing conflict resolution and fostering cohesion

  • Inspiring without directing the children

Person specification

We are primarily looking for someone who understands our vision and who feels their values are at least compatible with ours. Relevant qualifications are helpful but not essential, though a commitment to professional development is expected.

Essential qualities:

  • Experience and love of working with young children

  • Commitment to the values and vision of The Garden

  • Ability to empower children to solve problems themselves

  • Enjoyment of being outdoors

  • Paedatric first aid (ideally with outdoor specialism - this can be arranged if not held)

  • Willingness to work towards an unconditional approach (no punishment or reward, including praise)

 

Desirable qualities:

  • Early years qualification (ideally level 3)

  • Forest school qualification (ideally level 3)

  • Experience of making and recording observations

  • Familiarity with the EYFS

  • Not dogmatically attached to any particular pedagogy or educational theories

  • Understanding of Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

 

This is an especially exciting opportunity as we’re looking for someone to be involved with developing and shaping the early years element of project, as part of a network of similar settings and a growing worldwide movement of self-directed education and childcare.  

 

How to apply

If you share our passion for creating a nurturing space where children’s rights are respected then please get in touch. To apply for the position or to find out more about the role or The Garden please email hello@thegardenbristol.org for an application form that should be submitted by midnight on 13th October 2016.




 

Buzzards

All day yesterday we were hearing two birds call to each other in a distinctively high pitched shriek. We puzzled over what they could be for much of the day and towards the end we caught a glimpse of a speckled tummy flying overhead.

We're reasonably sure they were young buzzards, having listened to the audio on the RSPB website.

 
 Credit to https://www.flickr.com/photos/126452227@N02/

Credit to https://www.flickr.com/photos/126452227@N02/

Perfect and less perfect days

Today we had one of those dreamy days where The Garden was everything I had hoped it would be. We started with a focused and productive democratic meeting, followed by some lovely journaling, paper aeroplane making and flying, Harry Potter reading, lunch sharing, trampoline bouncing, chess playing, imagination in the woods, tag in the rain, kindness and much laughter.  

 

 Journaling  

Journaling  

That's not to say that there weren't any challenges. Our only adult-imposed rule of one person at a time on the trampoline is the only rule that we regularly struggle with, which is no coincidence, and today has seen several infractions. People have disagreed and become cross with each other but, as I so often am, I have been repeatedly blown away by the ability of such young minds to solve their problems and find collaborative solutions to conflict. 

 The aeroplane factory  

The aeroplane factory  

Of course, days like this are not the only kind we have. We have other sorts where people get cross with each other and need more help to find a way forward that everyone is satisfied with. Sometimes meetings are chaotic, frustrating and frankly hard work for the chair. Sometimes the grown ups must be persistently involved in the minutae of the day. The challenge is to accept these days as having equal value to the dreamy ones, possibly more so.

 Chess

Chess

Today though, I'm quite glad it's been one of those dreamy, perfect days. 

Emma  

Open Day - Sunday 10th July

We're pleased to announce our first ever open day at The Garden, 10am-3pm on Sunday 10th July.

Curious families can meet The Gardeners, find out more about the project, eat lovely food and explore our beautiful site.

We'll have storytelling, bicycle-powered smoothie making, an art workshop, cafe and a talk/Q&A by Emma and Jo about our approach and ethos.

The entrance to The Garden for the open day will be between 200 Mina Road and the railway tunnel.

Looking forward to seeing you there,
Emma & Jo

New Trial Places at The Garden

The Garden is a democratic community for school-aged children, in St Werburghs, Bristol. It's child-led, play-based and largely outdoors. Children at this alternative education project decide how they spend their time in a rich, inspiring and natural environment. They solve problems collaboratively in daily democratic meetings.

 Sunny painting

Sunny painting

We are delighted to be able to offer trial places for one or two days a week for this summer season at The Garden. These places are very limited and children who have reserved to join us in September will be prioritised.

 Labelling seeds for our citizen science Rocket Science project

Labelling seeds for our citizen science Rocket Science project

For more information, or to arrange a visit to The Garden please email thegardenbristol@gmail.com or call Emma on 07972 789409. You can also visit our website to find out more about the project: www.thegardenbristol.org

Budding democracy

Today my five year old chaired a democratic meeting. It wasn't the most orderly meeting we've ever had (and we've had some pretty disorderly meetings in the last month) but she did it, it worked and we made some decisions. 

 Hanging out 

Hanging out 

She also climbed trees, got into a fight over fairy dust (ash) and played lots and lots of tag; but as a group they're starting to understand the power they have in this embryonic democracy. It's pretty wonderful to watch.  

Emma