Darren’s Story

‘Real’ Work Experience

I am 16 years old and a student in the sixth form at Bladon House School in Staffordshire. I have autism, learning difficulties and find it difficult to communicate with people.

Since I came to Bladon I have loved working outside, looking after the animals and working in the garden and horticulture areas they have in the school grounds. Now I am older I get the opportunity to try all the skills I have learnt at the school out in a real business environment which will help me to achieve ASDAN qualifications.
My work placement is at a Garden Centre called Ecclesbourne Plant Centre in Duffield. The Garden Centre is about 40 minutes drive from the school. I travel there with my Project Leader Bill.

Before the work experience placement started I have to go for an interview and meet the Plant Centre Manager. She explained the job that she needed me do and I told her about my experience.

I have a big job to do for the garden centre. I am part of a team transforming a piece of overgrown land into a new garden nursery so the garden centre can use it for growing plants trees and shrubs that they can sell to the public, rather than buying them in from outside suppliers. I have three goals to achieve; Clearing the land, planting and finally harvesting the items to sell to the public. This means I will be able to see the results of my hard work and I can personally sell the plants to the public.  I have been able to practice working with small and medium hand tools, using a wheel barrow and making a compost heap. New skills I have learnt are how to trim back a hedge and how to plant small shrubs/flowers. I have also been learning how to work with the general public.

When I leave Bladon I would like to be able to use all my horticulture skills in a job and I want to live in a house with a big garden so I can grow my own fruit and vegetables.

Find out more about Ecclesbourne Plant Centre