Awards ceremony shows how school farms raise aspirations

10 Jul 2018

Schools across the UK who put agriculture at the heart of their work to raise students’ aspirations have been recognised at a national awards ceremony.

The second School Farms Network Education Alliance (SFNEA) Awards at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) celebrated the role of school farms in growing understanding of land-based industries in schools and communities and beyond to higher education and eventual careers in the sector.

Alexandra Jamieson, Winner of School Farms Community Impact Award with Julie Walkling, Director of Operations at the Royal Agricultural University

The Alliance supports the link between learning about farming in schools and widening participation in higher education, as well as teaching students about the range of career options open to them. It is a partnership between the Royal Agricultural University, Applied Inspiration and the School Farms Network which is supported by Social Farms and Gardens.

Schools attending the event on 2 July at the University’s Cirencester campus entered seven award categories with winner’s plaques provided by Muddy Faces. Teachers, land-based professionals, senior school leaders and students were all invited to the ceremony, which followed the RAU’s annual Teachers and Advisers Conference.

Schools showed how their farms help young people develop qualities such as communication skills and to improve sensory learning and also demonstrated how their Open Days benefit the local community.

Julie Walkling, Director of Operations at the Royal Agricultural University, who announced the awards said: “We heard passionate testimonials from teachers alongside the impressions of their local communities. What came through strongest were the voices of students who love their school farms and are motivated to learn more and perhaps even progress to study land-based subjects in the future!

“The standard of submissions across all entries was incredibly high, and the judges were delighted to receive submissions from schools across the UK.”

Winners were interviewed on stage by Sean Johnson, Managing Director of Applied Inspiration.

Alexandra Jamieson of Priestlands School in Lymington, Hampshire, who won the School Farms Community Impact Award said: "It's fantastic for our Walled Garden to be recognised for its impact upon the community. It is going to be lovely to go home and share our success with our young people and everyone else who uses and supports our Garden".

Other winners were Holme Grange School, in Wokingham, Berkshire (Best use of School Farm in the Curriculum); Calderstones School, in Allerton, Liverpool (School Farms Environmental Impact Award); Brockhill Park Performing Arts College in Saltwood, Kent (School Farms Inspire Award); Oathall Community College Lindfield, West Sussex (School Farms Innovation and Enterprise Award) and St Michael's Church of England High School, Crosby, Merseyside (School Farms Student Leadership Award 2018)

Best School Farms project went to The Junior Pig Club Conservation Programme, a collaboration between Aim Educational, Holme Grange School, Hunters Hill College, near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Pontville School in Ormskirk, Lancashire; and R.E.A.L Education.