Keele research supports business in the outdoor education sector

A leading landscape contractor which specialises in school garden projects has utilised a Keele University business research programme to measure the impact of their services.

Established in 1983, Great Grounds are predominantly a landscaping and outdoor maintenance company, with a wealth of experience in the sector. In the early 2000s, the company began focusing on the importance of developing landscaping skills to a younger generation and outdoor education.

The business recently developed a purpose-built meeting and exhibition venue set in 25 acres of woodland in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands. The venue is also a Centre of Excellence, providing careers education for primary school children, all linked to trades within the landscape and construction industries.

Great Grounds approached the University’s Business Gateway to participate in the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP)* in order to produce a comprehensive research report on measuring impacts from the company’s new facility in terms of learning outcomes.

KRISP is open to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent-based small to medium-sized enterprises, providing fully-funded business and academic advice as well as a talented student working as a Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) advisor within the company for up to 100 hours.

Tony Millar, Director at Great Grounds, said: “The student selected to be our RD&I advisor was a perfect fit, having a clear understanding of the teaching and learning sector and an interest in outdoor environments with previous work experience in eco-schools. The KRISP team made the process extremely easy with lots of touch points along the way and we are really happy with the end result.

The work that we’ve completed with Keele has provided us with a whole range of ideas and a strong profile of what we do, helping to showcase the positive outcomes that can be achieved by taking the classroom outside. Research has also helped to highlight the benefits of outdoor learning to children with special educational needs.

“The support from Keele has been extremely valuable for the company, giving credibility to the hard work and dedication of our educational methods and helping to shape the business moving forward.”

ERDF portrait logo Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding, more details of which are available through Keele University’s Business Gateway.

*The Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (ref: 32R16P00711) is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.