Apprenticeship at Wakehurst

Sign up for our two-year practical horticulture course with day release academic study.

Iris Dell at Wakehurst


2 years

About the course 

This apprenticeship aims to teach the highest standards of professional craft horticultural skills by offering a structured training in amenity and botanical horticulture and underpinning knowledge from college study. 

It provides participants with employment to gain practical experience and an understanding of the botanic gardens collections, ornamental horticulture, exotic woodlands, nature conservation and plant propagation at Wakehurst Horticulture and Landscape department in the High Weald of Sussex. 

Course objectives 

The Wakehurst apprenticeship is an entry level position designed for individuals desiring a professional career at senior craft level in botanical or amenity horticulture.

Applicants should enjoy physical activities and be prepared for early starts and working outdoors through the seasons. Apprentices are employed on a salary and college fees and staff exchanges are supported financially by the School of Horticulture.   

A Wakehurst apprentice will gain work experience in Aboriculture, Conservation, Gardens and Nursery teams. 

The apprenticeship will include:

  • on-the-job training will be arranged and delivered by garden managers and trainers, with a focus on practical skills using real tasks
  • a two-week staff exchange to a European botanic garden or plant collection
  • a competitive travel scholarship opportunity for two weeks at the beginning of the second year
  • each apprentice will be granted day release to attend a local horticultural college, where they will study and prepare for the horticulture operative Trailblazer apprenticeship standard. Find out more about the government's Apprenticeship standard: horticulture and landscape operative


Course content 

Placement structure

Apprentices will be placed in a different horticultural units. On-the-job training will be arranged and delivered by garden managers and trainers with focus on practical skills using real tasks.

Placements scheduled:

Six four-month placements: Horticulture and Landscape at Wakehurst

  • Arboriculture
  • Conservation
  • Gardens
  • Nurseries

Course teaching 

Training and assessment

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 including relevant certificates of competence, for example: application of pesticides PA 1&6, theoretical tuition and practical demonstrations will be delivered by specialists. 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, and the opportunity to work with a very wide range of plants, developing horticultural amenity and landscape features, and environments.

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.

Course assessment 

Practical assessment

In order to pass the apprenticeship, you must:

  • successfully pass the practical placement by achieving competence in horticultural tasks supported by your supervisor
  • undertake all standard training requirements
  • produce a weekly work journal for each placement
  • attend the monthly identification tests
  • participate in regular apprentice/ employer reviews every 3 months
  • attend college and pass the Trailblazer standard end point independent assessment

Successful participants will be awarded an Apprenticeship Certificate and a Transcript of Practical Training. This is a Trailblazer Standard apprenticeship nationally recognised.

Work journals

Apprentices are required to produce a weekly practical work journal to record personal learning on a daily basis. These work journals are evidence of development and learning and will form a basis for checking the apprentice is ready for the end point assessment. 

Apprentices also complete a weekly plant profile on a species they are working with to build plant knowledge.

Plant profiles and monthly identification tests

Apprentices are required to learn an average of 100 plants per year. These will be presented as 10 plants a month, initially starting with 10 plants in August, by an ident coordinator. Apprentices will study these plants and be assessed with regular plant identification tests. These tests will incorporate previous months' plants to ensure plant knowledge is remembered. Apprentices will also complete a weekly plant profile on a species they are working on to build plant knowledge.

Application process 

Apprentices require a good standard of education: 2 GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and Maths at grade C/4 or above and significant horticultural work experience or volunteering in a professional horticultural environment (normally equivalent to a minimum of 3 months). Trailblazer apprenticeships are backed by the UK government and are subject to UK government funding rules.


  • must not be enrolled on another apprenticeship
  • must be 16 or over after the last Friday in June of the start year
  • must be able to complete the apprenticeship in the 2 years
  • must have been normally resident in the EEA for the past 3 years
  • must not have a full level 2 or higher qualification in Horticulture
  • must be eligible to work in the United Kingdom and undertake the apprenticeship training.

Kew welcomes international applicants, as we firmly believe in this ethos. However Kew is unable to sponsor applicants to work in the United Kingdom for the Kew Apprenticeship.  It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure eligibility to work in the United Kingdom for the duration of the appointment; see UK Visa and Immigration for the latest regulations.

All successful applicants called to interview will be required to provide documentary evidence of their right to work in the United Kingdom and residency in the EEA for the last three years at interview.


There is a salary of £16,387 per annum with a one-off book and equipment payment of £725 (overall rate of £17,112). Limited opportunities also exist to care for the collections at weekends and these receive additional payment. 

Application deadline 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial repercussions on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the next recruitment date.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew remains fully committed to running further apprenticeship programmes and will commence recruitment as soon as we are able. In the meantime, you can register your interest and sign up for job alerts.

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