All our Garden Owners share a passion for horticulture and gardens and are equally motivated to improve horticultural education in all its forms. Taking on a trainee is one way of ensuring your garden legacy is maintained for future people to enjoy.
Our trainees are keen to learn as much as possible from you during their year of training. They are often career-changers and so enthusiastic and energetic. They also offer you additional support in your garden.
A great range of rural and urban gardens of varying sizes support WRAGS placements across the country. These includes private and public gardens, city farms, Heritage gardens, some funded by local councils.
The garden owner pays the trainee directly according to the current rates of the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage according to age. The current rate of NLW can be found at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates. The trainee is entitled to holidays (see our terms and conditions questions later on).
There is a four week probationary period, post a successful interview to ensure both sides are happy.
We do ask that the Garden Owner becomes a member of the WFGA to support the ongoing work of the Charity (https://www.wfga.org.uk/join-the-wfga/)
The trainee pays the WFGA an administration fee that covers the monitoring of the training by the Regional Manager and the certification and is therefore committed to completing the training.
The garden owner provides all tools and equipment, washing and toilet facilities and adequate facilities for tea and lunch breaks.
WFGA issues a basic Health and Safety Responsibilities document to the garden owner and trainee but note that the Garden Owner is responsible for Health and Safety at Work.
Our Regional Manager in your area, will work closely with you to find you the right trainee for your garden.
They will initially inspect your Garden with a visit and take you through our Garden Owners Handbook. They will discuss any questions and/or concerns you may have. They will follow up by introducing you to possible trainees who they believe will match your requirements. They will arrange suitable interview dates and act as a conduit to the discussions. The relevant contracts are then drawn up and completed by all parties.
During the year it is necessary that the trainee completes a monthly assessment form (MAF) which is sent to the Regional Manager. The MAF represents a set list of horticultural skills, and we require that the Garden Owner/Head Gardener offers as much of the training as possible that is on the syllabus. A copy of the full list of task and skills is available within the WRAGS FAQs.
The RM visits the Trainee in the garden, usually twice during the placement, after 4 and 8 months. Sometimes the second visit may take the form of a telephone discussion.
All MAFs have to be completed in order for the trainee to receive their WRAGS certificate at the end of the year.
Our Scheme attracts both men and women. There is a good mix of career changers who undertake the trainee placement amongst other work commitments. There are people from a wide range of previous paths including financial, medical, the civil service etc.
Trainees are often sourced from Horticultural colleges where they may already be studying horticulture via the RHS examinations.
As mentioned before, the Regional Manager is critical to the functioning of the WRAGS and plays a pivotal role.
Our Regional Managers are diligently selected by trustee representatives of WFGA according to their backgrounds, credentials for the role and proximity to the region requiring coverage. They facilitate the placement of trainees into gardens and, at the time of writing, WFGA has 15 Regional Managers operating throughout England and parts of Scotland and Wales.
The Regional Managers meet the Garden owners and visit the garden to discuss suitability etc. Then they would arrange the initial matching of trainee with the garden placement, visit the trainee in each garden twice during the training year and also track the training given with monthly reports.
The latter is very important; the trainee needs to be assured he/she is getting a well-rounded and diversified practical learning experience and the garden owner / head gardener needs to be assured they are getting good value for money.
WRAGS cannot qualify for status as an Apprenticeship Scheme as it does not offer sufficient working hours, the trainee may be classed as an employee (Worker) or Self Employed, and it has no formal accredited training element.
Contracts are signed between the WFGA and Garden Owner, and the Trainee and WFGA. It is hoped that these agreements will remain in force for the training period. In the event of unforeseen difficulties, either party may terminate this agreement before the year is up, by giving two weeks’ written notice. Any serious dispute that cannot be resolved by the RM will be escalated to the WFGA Board of Trustees, whose decision will be final and binding.
The Garden Owner and Trainee should also have a written agreement between themselves that sets out terms such as Annual Leave. An example is provided in the Garden Owners Pack. The Garden Owner having interviewed the Trainee is also responsible for all other common employment procedures such as confirming their right to work in the UK and references if required.
The Garden Owner is responsible for the Health and Safety of workers on their premises. Further details are available in the Garden Owners Pack.
The WFGA requests that all garden owners pay trainees annual leave in line with the NLW statutory minimum on a pro rata basis, whether they are working on an employed or self-employed basis. This should be discussed with the trainee before the placement begins.
This depends on whether the trainee is an employee or Self Employed. If Self Employed then the trainee is responsible for declaring their income from the WRAGS training to HMRC (the Tax Office) via an annual Self-Assessment.
During bad weather, when appropriate, the garden owner provides garden tasks under shelter, such as the cleaning of gardening equipment and tidying sheds.
Note that trainees should not be expected to do domestic car, pet or pool cleaning duties.
The garden owner accepts the responsibility of providing Liability Cover, and provides WFGA with the name of the insurer and policy number. House insurance usually covers domestic workers like gardeners in this situation, but it is the garden owner’s responsibility to check.
Garden Owners are responsible for following all normal employment procedures including asking for references and checking their right to work in the UK. The WFGA informs the garden owners on the relevant legislation but cannot enforce compliance. A trainee can make a complaint to an employment tribunal within three months of an alleged breach of law.
Further Information about the Scheme
If you would like a detailed copy of our Garden Owners Pack which includes all our Terms and Conditions, or a copy of the Report and Accounts these are available from our Headquarters.
The administration centre for the WFGA
7 Trull Farm Buildings, Trull, Tetbury, Glos GL8 8SQ
Telephone: 01285 841468