Described as “the world’s foremost qualification in botanical horticulture”, the three-year Kew Diploma in Horticulture is highly competitive, with only 15 allocated places per year. Two current students are Abi Cain and Tim Stafford from Sparsholt College, who were accepted onto the prestigious course after completing their Level 2 Horticulture apprenticeship.

Tim says of the Kew Diploma, “It’s taken my notion of gardening to new dimensions, and I’m learning more plants than I knew existed.”

“The apprenticeship was certainly the stepping stone to this, but it was more than that too; I enjoyed it thoroughly for its own sake, and there are skills I learnt there that I would probably never come across in a botanic garden. The ratio of four days’ work to one day at College was very good and there was time at College and at work to look at things that particularly interested me.”

Abi always felt that the apprenticeship offered a great way to gain a combination of skills, explaining “the practical work experience and theory was a valuable way of getting experience and progressing in a field that I have a genuine interest in.”

Gaining a place at Kew was certainly a career highlight, “…it has filled me with confidence to further pursue career progression and to hopefully encourage others to do the same. I made a ten-year plan and am right where I want to be. I think that worldwide travel through horticulture is definitely on the agenda and hopefully I will be somewhere sunny in 2024! I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship for anyone who wants a rewarding and fast route into a career that they are passionate about. Sparsholt is an exceptional place to start”.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew welcomes further graduating Sparsholt students and apprentices to their programmes.

To find out more about Sparsholt College’s Horticulture courses, and Apprenticeships, join us at our next Open Day.