Newnham is one of the 31 colleges of the University of Cambridge. The college was established in 1871, as a women’s college at a time when women were not allowed to attend the University. Our co-founders include Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, the famous campaigner for women’s right to vote. We remain proudly a women’s college today. The college has a mixture of beautiful historic and contemporary buildings, set in stunning gardens. We are located by the University’s Sidgwick site and University Library, and about 10 minutes’ walk from the historic centre of Cambridge. We have around 370 undergraduates, 285 graduate/postgraduate students, and 70 academic staff.

The gardens at Newnham are extensive and include trees, shrubs, formal planted areas, meadow, vegetables, flowers, paths, ponds and playing fields. You will be expected to learn about garden tools and machinery and how to maintain them and get involved in all aspects of the job. The work is outside and can be physically strenuous. It involves mowing, raking, weeding, tending seedlings and young plants, watering, staking, planting, pruning, and learning about what it means to be a Gardener. 

The post holder will work as part of Newnham College’s Gardens department gaining on the job training and working towards a level 2 qualification. Joining an experienced team the overall roles is to help to tend and maintain in pristine condition, the 18 acres of College gardens for the use, enjoyment and relaxation of the students, Fellows and staff at the College.  The post holder will increasingly over the period of the apprenticeship, provide more support as they gain in confidence and experience and in year 2, the post holder will be expected to work with increasing independence and with minimal guidance. The aim of this post is for the post holder to achieve the goal of a gaining a recognised qualification at the end of this fixed term contract and go on to a successful career as a gardener.

Main duties and responsibilities

  • Undertake appropriate day-release course at NVQ Level 2 as arranged in conjunction with Line Manager.
  • Prepare portfolio of evidence for vocational qualification (throughout apprenticeship)
  • Learn basic skills on the job and increase in knowledge and confidence throughout the tenure of the fixed term contract.
  • Cutting and maintaining lawns and grass to a variety of finishes (fine to rough meadow type) using a variety of machines, including pedestrian operated, tractors and ride on mowers
  • Cutting and training hedges
  • Pruning wall shrubs and climbers
  • Maintaining shrub borders including weeding and pruning
  • Maintaining herbaceous borders including digging, staking, pruning and replanting
  • Carrying out basic arboriculture activities (this will include some ladder work and climbing)
  • Using chemical sprays and applying fertilisers
  • Learning greenhouse and nursery practices including seed sowing, watering, propagation and potting
  • Assisting with new landscaping work undertaken by the Gardens Department
  • Maintaining tools and equipment in the correct and safe manner
  • Maintaining good relationships with other staff, students, visitors and neighbours
  • Keeping the Head Gardener informed of equipment breakdowns or malfunctions
  • Keeping the Head Gardener informed of unfinished tasks
  • Maintaining garden features, ponds, furniture, paths, fences and carpark areas
  • Maintaining sports field including marking pitches and moving goals, and maintaining hard tennis courts and emptying the litterbins
  • Keeping garden buildings clean, tidy and safe
  • Observing all Health and Safety, regulatory and security measures
  • Co-operating with other College Departments as required
  • Undertaking other duties as required by the Head Gardener


  • To take part in the College’s appraisal scheme and to undertake training as required.
  • To be responsible for one’s own health and safety in the workplace.
  • To comply fully with all the College’s policies including health and safety, equal opportunities and data protection.
  • To undertake any other reasonable request or duties, commensurate with this post.

The above is not an exhaustive list of duties.  The post-holder may be asked to take on different tasks as required and all are expected to work collaboratively to support the overall work of the College.

Desired skills

  • Willing and keen to learn and to gain as much experience out of this opportunity as possible
  • Willing and able to undertake the physical work required, out in all weathers and at height where necessary
  • Ability to take instructions and act appropriately on them
  • A willingness to work flexibly
  • It is desirable but not essential: for the applicant to have some previous experience of working in a garden
  • It is desirable but not essential for the applicant to have some experience working with young people or in an education/campus environment

Personal qualities

  • Helpful and friendly approach
  • Ability to work calmly and accurately
  • Ability to work as part of a team

Desired qualifications

  • Either GCSEs at Grade C or above (or equivalent) in English, mathematics or willingness to achieve the standards required by the apprenticeship course undertaken

Future prospects

If you work hard and gain the qualifications and experience on offer, you’ll gain the confidence to join any team of gardeners or work as a solo gardener and be able to make a strong and positive impact.

Things to consider

Working as a gardener is tough work. You will be outside most of the time, in all weathers. You will be physically active most of the time and on your feet all day. Occasionally you will have to work at height, using a ladder or cherry picker – training will be given. 

The College provides uniform and protective clothing and all your equipment, but you will be expected to maintain it and keep it all in good condition. Some of the garden tools and machinery is heavy and dangerous so you will have to exercise care, but again, training will be given. The College is located centrally in Cambridge but there is free parking for cars and bikes. There will be the opportunity to mix with and learn from other College apprentices and to see and work in other College gardens. You will be working with an experienced team and you’ll need to find out all you can about the job from them as you go. Lots of other people will be interested in this job so you’ll need to apply yourself and show us you are keen to succeed.

KEITS Training Services Ltd reserves the right to close the vacancy earlier than the listed closing date should the need arise





Weekly wage


Working week

08.00 – 16.00 with a mid-morning tea break and unpaid lunch break.

Apprenticeship duration

24 months

Possible start date

22 March 2021

Date posted

10 February 2021

Apprenticeship level

Intermediate Level Apprenticeship

Reference number





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