Blackwater Vocational Project

Maldon in Bloom Blackwater ProjectThe Blackwater Vocational Partnership was set up four years ago to provide vocational opportunities within Maldon and the surrounding area. There are six local secondary schools involved and the partnership provides curriculum opportunities, linked to local employment needs that an individual school would not be able to offer on a sustainable basis. The horticulture course was the first two year course that the group launched with a group of students in September 2006. The students were offered places through their own school options process  at the end off year 9 and were interviewed at Writtle College as well as having a practical assessment  and taster day.

This course is for students with a genuine interest in these area of study and the hope was that students following the course would further their education in the subject post 16 and go onto fill the local and national skills shortage in the horticulture /agriculture industry. The first eight students successfully completed the course in 2008 and five have secured places for related courses at Writtle Colleges post 16. The others have all made positive choices for their future. Twelve students have completed in 2009 and recruitment for September 2009 is underway with seven students expressing a keen interest.

The course is structured so that the group works one day a week, with a tutor, Steve Ashley, and a curriculum support assistant within the Maldon promenade park and surrounding recreational sites and cemetery. The students work alongside parks department staff actively involved with the planning and training. Students have been responsible for the specific design and implementation of new beds and planting in the park as well as general upkeep, maintenance and environmental improvement including tree planting. Part of the student’s week also involves work experience within the horticulture industry to support their learning.

The students spend 2 or 3 day a week at school studying the core curriculum. The course is taught in such a way that the students work on genuine horticulture projects in Maldon that provide opportunities for them to learn skills and horticulture knowledge  and also provide opportunity to access those skills. As a result the students achieve their qualifications but in doing so contribute to the up-keep and development of the amenity and ecological value of the area.

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