Head of Engagement & Learning

Birmingham Botanical Gardens are looking for an experienced and motivated Head of Engagement & Learning and leader to join the Senior Leadership Team and lead the engagement, programming and learning of all our visitors and members at The Gardens.

The Gardens are in a period of change and have recently secured a Stage 1 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant towards a £14m capital project. The project aims to restore the historic glasshouses, upgrade site infrastructure and displays and improve the visitor experience for all. If you would like to be part of the dynamic team leading this project, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens (BBG) are keen to see applications from people of all backgrounds and communities and are committed to representing the diverse nature of the city. The Gardens look forward to receiving applications from all suitable candidates and will conduct inclusive recruitment processes based on attitude, experience, and qualifications. BBG are also committed to ensuring that no-one invited to interview should be excluded due to financial circumstances and will reimburse anyone attending interview (related costs must be supported by receipts) if required.

About the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Opened in 1832, Birmingham Botanical Gardens (registered charity number 528981) is one of just two independent charitable botanical gardens in the UK.

Spread across 15 acres, just one mile from Birmingham City Centre, BBG consists of over 7,000 formally documented plants, making it the largest and most diverse botanic collection in central England.

BBG’s heritage is woven into Birmingham’s history – once the most important manufacturing town in the world – and the site welcomes over 180,000 visitors each year.

As well as the gardens, which are a green sanctuary within the city, the charity also provides a unique educational resource for learning about plants, conservation, and the environment. We welcome visits from nurseries, schools, and colleges, as well as organised groups, and run adult courses and workshops in photography, nature, wildlife, heritage, and culture.

As an independent charity, we rely on the support of visitors, supporters, donors, and grants, as well as generating income from our trading arm, hosting weddings and special events. This support ensures that we can deliver our key charitable objectives, maintaining our Victorian glasshouses and our 15-acres of wonderful gardens, and developing educational projects for the Birmingham community.

A diverse botanical world that enhances all our lives: our mission is to support plant biodiversity and an understanding of its importance to the natural environment through conservation, education, engagement, and enjoyment.

Your role as a Head of Engagement

This post is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Gardens Major Project.

The Head of Engagement & Learning (HE&L) is an exciting new senior position at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, reporting to the Chief Executive (CE), to direct the learning, interpretation, and participation in BBG’s unique historic landscape and plant collections to in- spire, educate and engage a wide range of visitors, and audiences in accordance with the Garden’s vision, and to generate income and help meet strategic and business plan objectives across all areas of the Garden.

The postholder will be responsible for helping to develop and implementing the Heritage Fund Activity Plan as a part of the major development, for expanding the excellent Education and Learning Team outputs and for developing work with schools and partnerships in the horticultural, science, nature, heritage and cultural sectors to maximise opportunities to deliver exciting and inspiring experiences for all visitors, members, and volunteers commensurate with a nationally important Botanic Garden.

The Head of Engagement & Learning will be responsible for the day-to-day management and development of all engagement, programming and learning activities at BBG. The HE&L will manage the relationship with 3rd party educationalists and creatives, lead on improving and delivering an excellent visitor experience and grow the volunteering offer at the Gardens.

The HE&L is directly responsible to the CE and will line manage the Education Manager, Marketing Manager and Project Archive Officer (with dotted line to the Events Supervisor), lead an engagement staff team (circa 5 FTE) and will support the Gardens to grow and pro- fessionalise its volunteer processes and team.


  • The HE&L will work closely with the CE to raise the profile of the Botanical Gardens locally, nationally and internationally and will be responsible for driving forward and delivering a new public science and environment engagement function, delivering increased activity, participation, positive learning outcomes, evaluation, and income generation.
  • The HE&L will be responsible for developing interpretation and learning programmes that relate to BBG’s collections, scientific, biodiversity, and heritage knowledge. They will develop and deliver the new Ann Sowerby Interpretation Strategy and activities and increase public engagement and learning and ensure a broader diverse cultural and socio-economic demographic participation with the Gardens.
  • The HE&L will work closely with Trustees and the CE to deliver BBG’s strategic aims and grow opportunities for income generation and visitor growth. This work includes working with community partners to deliver activity in collaboration and facilitating local groups to host and run events with Gardens.
  • The HE&L will continue to promote BBGG as a welcoming place at the heart of Birmingham for the local community, and communities of interest further afield. This engagement will run across our operations – exemplified through our volunteers – building a lasting relationship with our Birmingham communities.
  • As a member of the senior management team and Head of Engagement, Learning and Programmes, the postholder will be expected to be an active participant in scheduled and ad hoc departmental meetings and will lead and develop the department and implement all policies and procedures as necessary.
  • The HE&L will performance-manage all reports on an ongoing basis to develop a high performing, collaborative team culture. This includes training, and recruitment, induction and appraisals where necessary.
  • The HE&L will be responsible for creating systems and processes which successfully grows a cohort of volunteers across all areas of the charity and will be expected to spend time with both staff and volunteers providing supervision, support, instruction and training.
  • The HE&L will ensure the highest standards of customer care and when necessary, carry out practical hands-on work alongside other members of staff.


      • The HE&L will work with BBG’s Major Project Team to enable the Gardens’ Major Heritage Fund Project to be developed and delivered successfully.
      • The HE&L will lead and shape the management of The Gardens in terms of engagement, Learning and Programmes, to ensure all visitors enjoy a high-quality engagement focused experience of national and international repute, consistent with the organisation’s brand values.
      • The HE&L is responsible for the development and production of the Activity Plan in the Development phase. (Subsequent oversight of the Interpretation/Engagement Strategy and its implementation will be required in the Delivery phase and beyond).
      • The HE&L will work with the project team and other colleagues during the development stage, advising on and developing all areas of inclusive engagement and learning outputs appropriate to user interest and national curriculum requirements.
      • The HE&L will work with the CE to co-create relevant strategies which will contribute to the wider business plan for BBG (including the commercial and marketing plans).
      • Responsible for the oversite of marketing and public relations activities for BBG and its trading subsidiary through the management of the Marketing Manager and third- party agencies.
      • Overall responsibility for the delivery of an effective marketing strategy to meet agreed performance indicators and annual targets.
      • Ensure BBG marketing drives visits to the sites and that all communications provide a clear message consistent with BBG Strategic Objectives, Business Plan and brand.
      • The HE&L will lead the team to ensure that targets, as set out in the agreed business plan are delivered.
      • The HE&L will work with the CE, Head of Horticulture and Curation, Development Director and Development Manager, Education Manager, Head of Commercial & Visitor Services and Marketing Manager (and relevant consultants) to deliver accessible and engaging marketing and interpretation of the site.
      • The HE&L will take primary responsibility for engaging with the local community, for example through projects during the construction programme.
      • The HE&L will oversee written/image research into the history of BBG and those associated with it, oversee the archive, memory recording and content development to ensure accurate/authentic representation of the buildings and garden stories.
      • The HE&L will implement activities, learning programmes and projects that articulate BBG’s vision and interpretation ideas, key messages, and visitor outcomes. This will involve the creation and delivery of engaging interpretive content/material, delivered through experiences such as in person, talks, texts, videos, audio, mobile content, participatory learning, website content, and other digital learning platforms, etc.
      • The HE&L will report to the Chief Executive and Board of Trustees as required, including the design and implementation of relevant analytics.
      • Any other duties and responsibilities that reasonably pertain to this role.

Contract Type: 18-month development stage fixed term contract, with an option to extend to the delivery period and full-time permanent position
Salary: £40,000 per annum

Please click here to download the PDF for further details and person specification. 

To apply: Please send your CV and covering letter to jobs@birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk.
Closing date: 23 March 2023
Interviews will take place week commencing 3 April 2023