School Farms, ‘Providing rich learning experiences for children and communities’
'Through school farms, pupils can experience the natural world around them and outdoor learning activities are integrated into everyday teaching practises’
OFSTED has recognised the contribution of school farms in raising standards, stating that ‘the school farm has a very positive impact on learning and links with other schools’
Hylands School is almost unique in Essex County in having a thriving on-site school farm. The school farm is a tremendously valuable resource, which is accessed in some way by almost every curriculum department of our school. In particular, the farm provides Science and Mathematics students with access to practical activities linked to their GCSE courses, the farm is managed under the umbrella of our Science department. Hylands offers the opportunity for students to take Land Based studies as a Level 1 City and Guilds option subject. This allows students to study Land Management, Agriculture, Animal Care and Husbandry and have hands on experience of life on the school farm. This subject is assessed by 100% coursework.
Child-centred learning and the importance of finding the right learning style for each individual child is increasingly being recognised.
The direct, hands-on nature of farm work can help learners develop their skills and use of multiple intelligences.
The farm environment stretches the gifted and extends the learning style of others’
Access to a school farm is a way of demonstrating we are a sustainable school, a school which prepares young people for a lifetime of sustainable living
There is a growing awareness of the importance of educating children about food and healthier lifestyles, and school farms have been recognised as a valuable teaching resource.
Farm Club is an extra-curricular club available to all student year groups at before school, lunchtime and after school. Students have the opportunity to assist in all areas of land/animal care and once a year, Farm Club students have the opportunity to exhibit animals at the local Young Farmers show. The farm grows different food and plants.
However, our school does not regard the farm as simply a facility for it’s own students, but makes it available to visiting students from other schools in the area.
- We have an established program of KS2 Liaison activities in conjunction with our Partner Junior Schools culminating in a Practical Bridging Project for all those students transferring to Hylands.
- Through the Primary Liaison Scheme, we invite local Junior Schools to participate in Farm workshops at least once a year, experiencing a flavor of the Rural Studies opportunities available at Hylands. Our priority Primary Schools visit up to four times during the year to experience the seasonal dimensions of Land Based Studies.
- We provide weekly practical workshops in Animal Care to a group of students from outside colleges.
School farms help deliver the outcomes of ‘Every Child Matters’
- Be healthy: taking part in farm activities helps with the physical and mental health
- Stay safe: working with equipment and animals enables thinking about safety issues in a supervised environment
- Enjoy and achieve: pupils who find a classroom environment difficult can flourish with the hands-on learning approach of farms
- Make a positive contribution: solving farm problems encourages positive and enterprising thinking. Pupils also gain confidence and self-esteem by taking responsibility for farm tasks, such as caring for animals
- Achieve economic well-being: the highly structures nature of farm work, from animal welfare to growing food, provides varied experience in a genuine working environment.
We’d like to highlight the wide range of benefits and positive effects on learning that school farms can bring to a school, its teachers and students, and the local community. These can include very positive developments to; attendance, behaviour, diet/nutrition, health/well-being, raising achievement, enterprise/economic well-being, inclusion, learning outside the classroom, skills for life, sustainability, self-esteem/confidence, relevant/applied learning and much more.
"Food growing can increase children’s scientific knowledge, and their environmental awareness. It also teaches them practical skills that will be useful throughout their lives."
Food Growing In Schools Taskforce: Main Report March 2012