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Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship

The three-year Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship has been developed to support the Temperate House Precinct Restoration Project.
Inside Kew's Palm House

The project

This high profile project, running until 2018, aims to restore one of the world’s largest Victorian conservatories to its former glory and rejuvenate the historically and scientifically important plant collections inside it. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Defra and a range of other donors.

The apprenticeship

The Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship scheme, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is open to individuals who can demonstrate a passion for horticulture, and provides a unique opportunity to learn a range of skills required to maintain plant collections in conservatories.

Some skills and practices will be contemporary, while others will be preserving traditional methods to maintain historic accuracy.

Diverse backgrounds

Kew wishes to recruit from a wide range of backgrounds and especially encourages applications from young people from local communities.

The finished project will have a community outreach element and we are being helped by many people to realise connections with local communities.

Paul's story

Paul Campbell Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship student
Paul Campbell, Landscape architect

Paul Campbell, a landscape architect who has been working with Kew to encourage participation, is born of Jamaican parents.

He says, 'Working with plants and nature is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time. My career in building, design, planning and planting demonstrates the many dynamic vocations which relate to the profession of horticulture. Completing a course in Horticulture was a life changing event for me and has led to an exciting career spanning 20 years; and counting...'

If you would like to be like Paul and enter the horticultural profession, then your opportunity could lie with the Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship includes comprehensive on-the-job training and day release to attend our local horticultural college to study for a recognised qualification, eg the RHS certificate.

Course objectives

The Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship aims to teach the highest standards of professional practice to all trainees by offering structured training. It provides participants with the opportunity to gain practical experience and knowledge of the responsibilities involved in this type of work, based on the horticultural operations of two horticultural sections at Kew. 

Placement structure

Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprentices will  receive on-the-job training which will be arranged and delivered by garden managers and trainers with a focus on using practical skills to perform real tasks. Placements are divided into six-monthly blocks and will cover areas related to historic glasshouse skills.

Course teaching

Training and Assessment
Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprentices have a training plan that outlines everything needed to achieve their certificate. On-the-job training will be integrated with training day sessions as needed, where theoretical tuition and practical demonstration will be delivered by Kew specialists. Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprentices have access to our libraries, computer and information systems.

Practical Placements
The work placements are intended to make two major contributions to the scheme as a whole:

  • the acquisition of craft, technical and employment skills
  • the opportunity to experience the major restoration of a significant Victorian glasshouse, nursery and propagation work, and planting of bedding schemes for display

Training Logs
Apprentices receive a unique training log, specific to the section they are working in, which records training undertaken. Team leaders or trainers are responsible for the basic on-the-job training which is reviewed every three months.

Work Journals
Apprentices are required to produce a practical work journal to record personal learning on a daily basis. These work journals are evidence of development and learning and will be presented to the Studentship Review board, prior to graduation.

Plant Profiles and Monthly Identification Tests
Apprentices are required to learn up to a total of 120 plants per year. These will be presented as 10 plants a month by an ident coordinator. Apprentices will complete plant profiles for these plants and be assessed with a plant identification test. These tests will incorporate previous months' plants leading to an overall test at the end of each year.

Course assessment

Within each section a practical test will be given on specific horticultural operations to confirm you have attained skills to the required standard.

In order to pass the Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship, you must:

  • successfully pass the practical placement to the required standard
  • undertake all standard training requirements
  • successfully pass all the practical assessments to the required standard
  • produce a weekly work journal for each placement
  • complete all plant profiles, up to 120 per year per section
  • attend the monthly identification tests
  • attend and pass the End of Scheme review

Successful participants will be awarded a Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship Certificate and a Transcript of Practical Training. This is a bespoke programme managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Application process

Apprentices require a good standard of education - 2 GCSEs (or equivalent) including English, Mathematics or a Science. Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprentices must be eligible to work in the United Kingdom for which there is a salary of £12,333 per annum, plus a book allowance of £725. Limited opportunities also exist to care for the collections at weekends and these receive additional payment.

Kew welcomes international applicants, however, we are unable to sponsor applicants to work in the United Kingdom for the Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure eligibility to work in the United Kingdom for the duration of the appointment. All successful applicants called to interview will be required to provide documentary evidence of their right to work in the United Kingdom at interview.

The practical training is a non-accredited qualification backed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with the RHS Certificate Level 2 which is accredited. Two employed apprentices are recruited per year.


Online applications, together with an essay of 250-500 words describing why you wish to undertake the Kew Historic Glasshouse Apprenticeship, should be returned no later than 28 February in the year of recruitment. Interviews are scheduled for late March/early April, with the Apprenticeship starting the first Monday in August.


This is a three-year fixed term appointment (employment). Apprentices receive 30 days leave in addition to day release to attend college.


We will only contact those candidates selected for interview. Therefore, if you have not heard from us within three weeks of the closing date, you should presume that you will not be called for interview.

Apply now