Everyone enjoys Rural Studies and the benefits to the children are enormous. All of us benefit from the fresh air and exercise which just moving around the school requires. Rural Studies involves the children in a better understanding of our environment and where our food comes from. It enhances our curriculum by establishing a practical link with the sometimes abstract and conceptual things which the children are learning in the indoor classroom. Moreover, the responsibility of looking after the animals in our care gives the children self-confidence, a belief in their capabilities, and an extension of their interests and horizon. It can be life-changing for some children.
The curriculum is split into three key areas: gardening, the care of livestock, and the study of nature.
We have Form allotments with vegetable, soft fruit and cut flower beds. The children learn how to look after plants from sowing to harvesting, how to make and use compost and how to use a variety of tools.
In addition to our herd of pedigree Hereford cattle, Gloucester Old Spot pigs, and flock of chickens, we regularly hand-rear orphaned spring lambs. The children are involved in all aspects of care from naming and feeding to tagging and from weighing to mucking out. They also prepare and show the animals (properly supervised) at local agricultural shows. Our herds have won many prizes and the children are incredibly proud of them.
The children also learn about the wildlife that lives around the school. With 110 acres at our disposal we do plant identification, animal tracking, collecting wild fruit and play camouflage games.
Will Grant, Head of Rural Studies