Linking farm visits with wider learning – From farm to school plate
Resource: Case study
Eastwood Comprehensive School is a Silver status school located in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. It has strong links with its local farm Redgates and, in June 2007, the school exceeded its targets in GCSE Food Technology.
What they've achieved
Redgates Farm not only regularly hosts educational farm visits, it also provides butchery workshops for Eastwood's GCSE Food Technology students. Indeed the relationship between the school and farm is so strong that Eastwood Comprehensive has 'adopted' a calf and a lamb, whose life the pupils follow. The farm supplies the school with eggs, pork, chicken, lamb and beef for the school dinners, and helps deliver the school's community events such as Hog Roasts and BBQs.
James Spriggs, Inclusion Unit Manager at Eastwood Comprehensive, explains that through visiting Redgates Farm, the pupils now have a sound understanding of what free range and naturally reared animals are. The pupils also visit an abattoir to understand the whole process from 'field to fork'.
Media students have interviewed the farmer at Redgates for 'Eastwood TV' and thereby linked the farm visits to their coursework.
This year GCSE ICT students are designing a website for Redgates Farm as part of their coursework. The 'A' level Business Studies students are going to audit the farm shop and suggest a 5 Year Business Plan to move the business forward.
The students have also designed eco-friendly 'Grab Bags' for their Food Court, which contain vegetables from the school allotment and meat from the Redgates Farm.
Eastwood Comprehensive and Redgates Farm are also planning to set up work experience and work placements at the farm for students who want to be a vet or work with animals.
What they say: Supermarket tweak!
James Spriggs says:
“Not all learning takes place in the classroom and our link with Redgates Farm offers the students some real world learning. The students get to see where their food comes from. They experience life on a working farm at first hand and they get to hear about some of the challenges that our farmers face getting food onto our plates.
“Our school is situated next to a supermarket and when I take new students down to the farm, which is less than a mile away, I always ask them ‘Where does meat come from?
The students always answer ‘The supermarket’. On the walk back when I ask the same question and they know the answer. During our farm visits the students will help out feeding the animals, putting out fresh bedding, collecting eggs etc. The visits always finish with either a BBQ or a picnic.”
Peter Redgate, owner of Redgates Farm, says: “We run a livestock farm with a farm shop and butchery as well. There is plenty to see and do throughout the food production process, which creates lots of opportunities for young people to get involved. The benefits to both the pupils and us totally outweigh the small amount of time and effort needed to organise these visits.”
The difference it makes
Students are more engaged with learning
By using their local farm for coursework, Eastwood Comprehensive makes learning more engaging and students are able to make the links between what they learn in the classroom and how they can apply it in real life.
Peter Redgate says: “The impact these visits have on pupils is amazing. Some things we take for granted here, such as lambing, but it really intrigues the young people -- and even the teachers that come along. As well as getting satisfaction out of educating the pupils about where their food comes from, the visits also help our business.
"I cannot think of a better way to educate future real food buyers than to show them the importance of local food production and the ways of the countryside that surrounds them. When the pupils go home we gain from the free advertisement they give us when they tell their parents about their day. An all round winner for everyone. I see the Food for Life Partnership as a must for the future of quality school dinners, local and British food and equally important - the future of British agriculture.”
Eastwood Comprehensive is a great example of how a school can bring together a local farm, their caterer, pupils and parents to everybody’s benefit. Nottinghamshire County Council Caterers, which caters for Eastwood Comprehensive’s pupils, get eggs, pork, chicken, lamb and beef from Redgates Farm. The caterer highlights this on their menus and leaflets, that go home to parents, and encourage families to go the farm shop.