Want to learn new skills? Go to Springhill Prison.


A training centre based at HMP Springhill near Bicester is launching a new series of courses for garden centre, farm and landscape business staff.

Courses in horticulture and land studies at Spring Hill Farms and Gardens are also aimed at people who grow produce in their gardens or on an allotment and would like to develop their skills.

Project founder and director, Karyn Buck, said: “We’re delighted to offer this new series of horticulture and land-based studies courses in partnership with Abingdon and Witney College.

“It is very much part of our mission to make opportunities available for local people to study with us in the same way that they can source produce from us in our on-site farm shop.”

HMP Springhill’s focus is on education, training, and rehabilitation of prisoners, with an emphasis on community engagement based around the fresh produce and gifts on sale in the farm shop.

In its first year, more than 40 prisoners got qualifications through the Spring Hill Farms and Gardens programme.

The new series of courses includes: Level 1 Land-based Studies – a combination of agriculture, farm animal and conservation units; Level 1 Practical Horticulture Skills; and a Level 2 Extended Certificate in Horticulture.

Students learn through a mix of classroom studies and outdoor activities in the project’s vegetable garden and ornamental planting grounds.

Emphasis is on practical skills, with an element of supporting theory.

Assessment is carried out primarily by observed or documented practical tasks.

All courses lead to a City and Guilds qualification.

HMP Springhill is an open prison holding low-risk prisoners nearing the end of their sentence, and helps prepare them for a return to the community, particularly through building job skills.

It is based in Grendon Underwood off the A41 between Bicester and Aylesbury.

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit www.springhillfg.co.uk/courses/college-courses, email courses@springhillfg.co.uk or contact staff on 01296 770511.