Beginnings

We've just completed our first fortnight in The Garden. The inaugural week was full of challenges, such as not yet having a stove (brrr!) or a functioning a compost loo and discovering all the places that the yurt wasn't quite watertight. Fortunately the weather was mostly kind to us and the children were too excited to care.

Joseph and Allen working on a catapult

Joseph and Allen working on a catapult

By the second week we were starting to get to grips with the practical issues and other sorts of challenges were presenting themselves. Our facilitator Jamie spent a lot of time getting know and connecting with the children and he has written some lovely reflections on the process here.

Wild garlic harvesting by Hetty

Wild garlic harvesting by Hetty

We were lucky to have mostly cold, bright and dry weather and The Netherways site offered up a treasure trove of intrigue, including icy ponds, an abundance of wild garlic, frozen (thawing) worms, and dozens of toads and their spawn in the larger pond. Den-building, tree-climbing, drawing, catapult design, ice-breaking (both literal and metaphorical), and lots and lots of tag were all popular activities chosen by The Gardeners. We even had some Japanese lessons, courtesy of our visitors Simon and Allen from a democratic school in Okinawa, Japan.

Yet another game of tag in the yurt

Yet another game of tag in the yurt

It's been a glorious and exhausting couple of weeks. It's heartening to hear the children say they want to come back every day, though for now three days a week definitely feels like enough! Looking forward to Tuesday already.

Emma

 

Ready

We did it. The day has finally arrived. The stove isn't in the yurt and the compost loo won't be usable until later in the week but we can work around that. Huge thanks to everyone who has helped us to get here!  

Thanks to the wonderful work of St Werburgh's local Biggles the yurt is back!  

Thanks to the wonderful work of St Werburgh's local Biggles the yurt is back!  

Frosty valley

Frosty valley

Fire pit in the winter sunshine  

Fire pit in the winter sunshine  

Jamie preparing for the arrivals

Jamie preparing for the arrivals

Emma's relief that the yurt is actually ready! 

Emma's relief that the yurt is actually ready! 

Visioning

The core team got together today to get some thinking and deciding under way.  

 

Jamie, Carol and Jessie  

Jamie, Carol and Jessie  

With just over two weeks to go there's lots of practical and organisational work but also ensuring we have good frameworks for decision-making and communicating.

 

Jessie and Jamie

Jessie and Jamie

It's been great to have Jamie's facilitation skills on board to get the project off the ground.  

 

 

Facilitator Vacancy

The Garden is looking to hire a facilitator to work with a mixed age group of children aged roughly 5-12 years in an outdoor setting in the new year in St Werburghs, Bristol. The position is approximately 21 hours per week over three days. The level of pay is to be negotiable and dependent on experience but competitive.

 

What is The Garden?

The Garden is a new alternative education 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 a mainly wooded area.

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

 

Job description

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

Duties

  • Leading democratic meetings, until the older children are able to run them
  • Ensuring children’s physical and emotional needs are met
  • Facilitating the children’s projects
  • Overseeing conflict resolution and fostering cohesion
  • Inspiring without directing the children

 

Person specification

We are looking for someone who understands our vision and who feels their values are at least compatible with ours.

Essential qualities:

  • Experience and love of working with 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 already held)
  • Willingness to visit other similar projects and undertake appropriate training

Desirable qualities:

  • Familiarity with the democratic decision making process, as used in democratic schools
  • Not attached to any particular pedagogy or educational theories
  • Play therapy background
  • Understanding of Non-Violent Communication (NVC)
  • Forest school experience

This is an especially exciting opportunity as we’re looking for someone to be involved with developing and shaping this project, as part of a network of similar settings and a growing worldwide movement of alternative education.

 

How to apply

To apply please send a CV and covering letter to thegardenbristol@gmail.com by 15th December 2015.