School Partnership Program

School partnership programs generate opportunities for long term, ongoing learning experiences for schools. Participating students and teachers are able to understand more fully the work of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria by developing ongoing relationships with staff and volunteers, using real tools, experiencing real world environmental challenges and finding real solutions.

Partnerships requre a creative input which demands time and resources that cannot be fairly provided for the large numbers of schools that the Gardens work with. To balance these demands partnership outcomes are negotiated between schools and Gardens staff. Partnerships are of a fixed term however they may be continued for extended periods at a reduced level of commitment. The different nature and resources of the Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens are also generally reflected in the nature of partnership developed.

Cherry Ballart Partnership Program

Applications for school partnership opportunities are now open for 2019!

A partnership project, as distinct from a one-off excursion or incursion (a visit to a school) is an opportunity for the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and a school community to work closely together over a reasonable period of time on a focused outcome-driven project. Partnerships such as this afford the opportunity for the Gardens to share our expertise in plants, horticulture, plant science, play and nature based learning with the extended school community, students, teachers and parents. It provides an opportunity for the Gardens to learn more about how students, teachers and parents engage with the natural world, exploring the wonders of plants, inspiring curiosity, connection to country and community. Partnerships are developed in collaboration between school communities and the Gardens, and are tailored to the schools individual needs.


The Gardens’ objectives are to partner with schools:

  • From communities at risk through economic disadvantage, social or environmental disadvantage,
  • To provide students, teachers and the school community, with learning opportunities to which they would not usually have access

The Cherry Ballart (our native cherry tree) is chosen to represent this project, as when the Cherry Ballart is young it cannot grow on its own - it needs the support of others to grow and flourish.  A young Cherry Ballart will hang on until independence, and as adults they let go. The Cherry Ballart symbolises the RBG’s relationship with students and their schools, by the support that the RBG provides.

We wish to acknowledge the generous contributions by our donors who have made opportunities to participate in the Cherry Ballart Program possible.​​

  • Brian and Virginia McNamee Foundation
  • Miss Betty Amsden AO DSJ
  • Ms Debbie Dadon AM
  • Betsy and Ollie Polasek Endowment
  • Vera Moore Foundation

Applying for a School Partnership

There is no charge for participation in school partnership programs.

Visits are made up of weekly or fortnightly two-hour sessions during the term in which your partnership program is running. Programs are catered to individual school needs. To apply to participate in these programs, please submit an application addressing the following criteria:

  • Goals for the partnership. These may include desired learning outcomes and experiences.
  • What do you think your role would be to ensure the success of this partnership program? This may include a statement about communication methods, reliability, commitment and interest of your staff.
  • How do you plan to travel to the Gardens? How often and how regularly can you visit? What dates/terms, starting and finishing times do you prefer?
  • Describe your group in terms of needs, abilities, interests, age range and participant numbers.
  • Demonstrated support of the program from principal, teachers, school officers and parents.


‘Vermont South Special School [VSSS] is a State run school attended by children with mild intellectual disabilities. Our partnership with the Children's Garden program is a very valuable part of our schools' program providing a rich experience for the students and exchange of ideas and support for the teachers.

Benefits for our students include learning through hands-on experiences, building of confidence, provide and self-esteem, development of life-long skills both recreational and vocational, social skills in dealing with members of the community, and the opportunity to experience a rich garden environment.

For teachers the partnership has provided valuable enrichment and support for VELS Domains as well as the opportunity to develop our own Kitchen Garden and become a wastewise school with everyone involved in composting and recycling.'

Jan Brown, Science Teacher, VSSS

Playgroup and Bush Kinder

Cranbourne Bush Kinder

Bush Kinder is a rapidly growing learning model in Early Childhood settings. Its philosophy is child centred discovery learning where children interact with each other and nature in outdoor “bush” settings. Currently 5 groups from Cranbourne Day Care and Kindergarten are using the Cranbourne Gardens site for kindergarten sessions.

The day to day running of sessions is the responsibility of the regular kindergarten teachers but Gardens staff liaise, assist with establishing processes and induct students to the site. The Gardens also run professional development in Nature Play at both Melbourne and Cranbourne.

Previous Partnerships- Learning Stories

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria's Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens document at least one of the partnerships operating each semester. The structure we use for documenting this partnership is in a Learning Story format arrived at through collaboration within the Strategic Partnerships Program.

These Learning Stories have been written up with the assistance of the participating school teachers and students and they inform the structure of each of the partnerships. The structure of the reports helps us ensure that tangible and measurable outcomes flow from the collaborative work that is each of the partnerships we enter into.

This collection of Learning Stories represents some of the partnerships we have entered into and will hopefully provide some idea of the scope that we are prepared to address. It is not a complete collection of partnerships that have operated and it does not define the scope we are prepared to embrace. Hopefully schools considering partnerships will be inspired by these stories and those featured will feel proud of their achievements.

For enquiries please contact: