Educational farms celebrated at the school farms conference 2023

News item first posted on: 12/07/23

This month saw the School Farms Network host their fifth annual School Farms Conference, bringing together leading practitioners in educational farming environments from across the UK. Hosted by by Liam Dowsan from the Royal Agricultural University, the event took place at its Cirencester campus. Liam acknowledged the efforts of all the participants involved;

Thanks to all the schools, farms and students who produced inspirational submissions clearly demonstrating the enormous benefits that educational farms offer. It is so encouraging to see the clear commitment and ingenuity demonstrated by schools, also demonstrating the wide variety of resources and their uses depending on the school setting, students and commitment of teachers.

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The conference took place over two days, with an evening of awards and celebrations in between. The theme of this years event was 'Why educational farms are more vital than ever', an emotive theme which addressed topics including school farms as sites for learning, composting in schools, building land-based careers and education pathways to university and using the farm across the curriculum. The event promoted interest in land-based education through keynote presentations, breakout sessions and practitioner-focused sharing and practical workshops.

Social Farms and Gardens sponsored the 'most inspirational farm or garden 2023' award which was presented to Llanishen Fach Primary School. The school created an outdoor learning team to fill the gap in the National Curriculum provision, and engaged a group of 50 family volunteers to help rear chickens and support the learning with older pupils help the younger ones to care for the chickens. This year there were five categories of awards, with in some cases, separate awards for Primary, Secondary, SEN and further/higher education providers. Winners were presented with engraved wooden plaques, and all student entries received certificates. Thank you to everyone involved for a wonderful weekend.

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This years successful winners are

  • Student of the year - Ella Rose Mitchinson, Woodchurch High School, Wirral
  • Farm of garden leader of the year - Fiona Stanley, Brymore Academy, Bridgwater
  • Best innovative farm or garden-based curriculum 2023 - Winner (Secondary); Ramsey Grammar School, Isle of Man
    Winner (SEN); Woodfield School/Pages Care Farm, Kingsbury 
    Winner (Higher): Hopwood Hall, Middleton
  • Best student-led sustainable practices 2023; Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, Hythe
  • Most inspirational educational farm or garden 2023; Winner; Llanishen Fach Primary School, Cardiff
    Winner (SEN): Abbey Court School, Rochester
  • Best Educational Farm Project 2023: Abbey Court School, Rochester