One of the most unique learning environments in Dorset, our Gillingham campus is part of Thorngrove Garden Centre and operates as a fully functioning garden centre opening to the public, allowing our learners to utilise the diverse facilities on site not just for classroom based study, but for confidence building and work experience.

From our impressive garden centre, cafe and gift shop, much of the learning at Thorngrove happens among members of the public, giving students the opportunity to hone their skills and prepare for adulthood in a real working location, always with the support of our education staff, and garden centre experts.

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Students complete functional, vocational and RARPA qualifications that are complimented by the real working environment that they are part of. Employ My Ability students work alongside the teams in everyday tasks, and are an essential part of key operations in the Café, garden centre, plant nursery and glasshouses. (Which are all open to the general public).

They have a high-profile presence when carrying out their work and studies, in the same way in which the staff team have.

This is a fundamental part of the students learning. They are part of the team working to present the site and fantastic plants and garden centre products. As with Moreton, this also gives the students a sense of purpose about their studies. Not only do they see physical results of their work, but they see the enjoyment it brings to the visitors.

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A little history…

Thorngrove Garden Centre, Gillingham – A traditional garden centre in the heart of Gillingham which has been operating for over 50 years. Thorngrove was acquired by Scope as their first residential home in 1963 and the garden centre officially opened in 1967. Employ My Ability purchased Thorngrove Garden Centre in 2017 and embarked on an exciting and inspiring programme of regeneration which included; The new Secret Garden Café, a re-vamped Garden Centre shop, and the creation of modern teaching spaces. 2021 saw the addition of 4 new classrooms, and continued development as a learning centre with work on-going in 2022 to make it one of the most unique and vibrant places for young people to gain work experience and recognised qualifications.


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