The SFNEA conference celebrates School Farms success stories

15 Jul 2019

Schools from across the UK came together at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) to celebrate the benefits of incorporating outdoor learning and School Farms into education.

The School Farms Network Education Alliance (SFNEA) is a partnership between the RAU and the School Farms Network (SFN), consisting of more than 116 school farms across the UK.

The third annual SFNEA conference, which was supported by Social Farms and Gardens, welcomed back land-based industry professionals, teachers and advisers who are actively involved in educating young people about land-based industries and opportunities.

The programme included keynote speaker Helen Ward, the Head of Strategic Engagement at Defra, and workshops around NFU’s Farmvention initiative, which gives primary school students the chance to solve three farming related issues.

Integrating outdoor learning and farming into the curriculum provides young people with the opportunity to engage with the land-based sector, developing key skills and learning about future opportunities. The RAU welcomes discussions around the future of farming and the group provides a setting in which knowledge can be shared with a focus on the future generation of farming.

Liam Dowson, Associate Head of Recruitment and Widening Participation at the Royal Agricultural University said: “The RAU is proud to work with the School Farms Network to provide a platform for this group to come together to share best practice and advocate the use of school farms as a powerful tool for education. The land-based industries are critical for the future of the UK and it’s important to showcase the wide range of exciting careers available in this sector.”

Featured as part of the conference was an awards dinner, showcasing the achievements of individual school farms, student farmers and ongoing farm projects. Winners included School Farmer of the Year at Hugh Myddleton Primary School and St Ronan’s School for the best use of the School Farm in the curriculum.

Aim Educational took home the award for School Farm Innovation, where students have developed a unique database and smartphone App holding farm information, making it accessible to anyone in the school. The accessibility of the app has increased productivity and enabled students to more easily benefit from the farm.

Woodchurch High School took home the School Farm Environmental Award and the award for Best School Farms Project. Linda Hackett, Teacher and Farm manager at Woodchurch said: “The school farm started ten years ago with four ex battery hens as part of a BTEC Animal Care course. Today, with the help and commitment of local volunteers, our amazing students and staff we have a vibrant working community/school farm that educates over 300 students and visitors a year. This award recognises the dedication and hard work that makes our farm a great learning resource for children and adults.”

Congratulations to all recipients. #SFNCon19