Stockport based Great Grounds is branching out and launching a new interactive learning destination in Dilhorne, Stoke-on-Trent.
Supported by a six figure funding deal from Royal Bank of Scotland, Great Grounds Education & Business Centre will teach primary school children vocational skills including landscaping, woodland management, drystone walling, pond creation and path construction.
Launched by Great Grounds, the Stockport based landscaping, construction and maintenance contractor, the centre is located on a 25 acre site on Tickhill Lane which was acquired by the firm last year.
Featuring derelict commercial farm buildings, overgrown land and 10 acres of woodland, schools will be invited from September this year.
The youngsters will be able to observe development work being carried out, providing them with a taste for careers in the industry. They will learn about the equipment used, the skills needed and how they link back to the curriculum.
Set up in 1983, Great Grounds provides landscaping services to schools, commercial and public sector organisations and large domestic properties across Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, and Merseyside. In 2016 the firm introduced an educational side to the business, running outdoor learning workshops in schools. Held on school grounds, the workshops link the work Great Grounds does directly to the national curriculum and outdoor learning criteria, offering pupils opportunities to see what is involved with different jobs in the industry and providing unique vocational experiences. The launch of the business centre is the next step in the development of this area of the business.
Tony Millar, Director of Great Grounds, said:
“We are really pleased that the learning centre is going ahead and that we have been able to create such a hands-on destination for children to learn about landscaping, construction and grounds maintenance.
“Through our work in schools we meet a lot of children who are disengaged with mainstream education and fail to see how traditional school work will help them in the future. By creating the centre we hope to show them how skills learnt at school are transferred into the workplace and the importance of their education. Teachers also gain massively from the experience, gaining a better understanding of what future employers may be looking for.
“The support we have had from Royal Bank of Scotland for this project has been excellent. Last year they provided us with funding to acquire the farm buildings and have now supported us with further capital to develop the site and aid the creation of the educational centre. The team there have been on hand whenever we have needed them and have pulled out all the stops to ensure that this project could get underway. We have been really impressed with the speed in which they have been able to help us – turning around our loan in under 3 weeks.
“The Centre will not only provide fantastic learning experiences for children, but will also be a unique corporate venue with meeting rooms and conference facilities within the main building and around the grounds. We anticipate that our unique woodland lodge and tree house meeting rooms will be extremely popular with significant interest already shown by a number of high profile clients prior to our launch in September.”
Great Grounds currently employs 17 people in the North West and an additional three new jobs are being created as a result of the opening of the centre. The new centre will also provide the firm with a West Midlands base for their landscaping business as the firm focuses on expansion into this area and will host corporate events outside of school hours.
Joe Riley, Relationship Manager at Royal Bank of Scotland, said:
“We are pleased to be supporting such a brilliant initiative that will benefit schools across the North West and West Midlands. Opening children’s eyes up to the world around them and the different types of careers available is extremely important and we are keen to support companies looking to further the education of local children. We wish Tony and his team the very best with the new centre which we are sure is set to be a real hit with schools in the area.”