School Farms Network
There are now more than 120 School Farms in the UK. SF&G set up and co-ordinates the School Farms Network as a mutual support and specialist network of practitioners and those interested in starting a new school farm.The network:
- Offers support and assistance to existing school-based farms and those wishing to start a new school farm (teachers, assistants and parents).
- Facilitates the exchange of ideas and information, including peer teacher support.
- Produces a regular newsletter for those interested in promoting opportunities for young people to take part in farming and agricultural/land-based learning across the Education Sector.
- Arranges network meetings which are an excellent opportunity for school farm staff and volunteers to swap ideas, gain inspiration from the work of their colleagues and discuss how to stimulate understanding and support for school farms.
Find out more by downloading our School Farms Network leaflet below
Get Your Hands Dirty
School Farms Network have produced a free guide called ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’. The guide provides comprehensive advice on growing plants and keeping animals in schools. This resource is useful for all teachers, whether you are thinking of starting to grow plants or wanting to start more complex activities. Download it here
We strongly encourage anyone based at an existing school farm or interested in developing one, to become a member of Social Farms & Gardens. Membership is free via the online form here: Join Now
School Farms Conference 2021
The popular School Farms Conference is back in 2021! This year's theme is 'Growing People, Plants and Animals'. and will take place online over the 2nd – 3rd July 2021.
About the School Farms Conference 2021
As in previous years, the event will be of great interest and use whether you are a Head teacher, adviser, school farm teacher, parent or anyone wishing to consider starting a school farm.
Due to the uncertainties of Covid-19 and feedback from many teachers and support staff that they will not be allowed to travel to attend events, this year the conference will be online; so no matter where you live you can join in!
Ensure that you book time to attend and promote the event to your colleagues.
The programme will run from 12:00 -15.30 on Friday 2nd July with a mixture of presentations and workshops. You will be able to contribute and ask questions through the online chat facility and everything will be recorded for you to revisit. On Saturday 3rd July the day will run from 09.30 - 12.00, including a session where Awards will be announced.
Here are just a few of the sessions currently being planned:
* Mental health and young people * School gardening * Value of farms & gardens for children with learning difficulties * Beekeeping in schools * Meet a farmer online * Care farming/therapeutic use of farms * Making use of sheep fleeces, including composting * Closed loop permaculture systems * Making sausages and bacon with the students * Incubation projects (including ethics and sourcing) * H&S and risk assessments * Basic animal first aid * Fundraising * Starting a school farm
More details on the School Farms Network can be found here
Contacts: Help and Advice
Join the School Farms Network Forum Facebook Group - a closed group where people involved in the running of school farms can share resources, seek advice, sell livestock and share experiences relating to school farms
Chair of SFN, Donna Ashlee (Brockhill Performing Arts School, Kent) has offered to help answer questions and discuss issues with individual school staff who contact her, along with some other experienced school farm teachers listed below. Also, Ian Egginton-Metters (Social Farms & Gardens) is available to answer or signpost enquiries and pursue opportunities to help develop the Network, hands-on farming and horticultural education in schools.
Donna Ashlee, email: email@example.com or tel: 01303 265521 / 07872 508109
Ian Egginton-Metters, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07939 230053
Chris Holloway (Warriner School, Banbury) email: email@example.com
Linda Hackett (Woodchurch High School, Wirral) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marion Arthurs (Ramsey Grammar School, Isle of Man) email: Marion.Arthur@sch.im
- Martin Wedgwood (retired and Btec Examiner) email: Mwedgwood@aol.com
If you have any general enquiries about SFN or Social Farms & Gardens, then please contact: email@example.com
Please leave your name, name of school and telephone number and if possible an email) when making contact.
Reports & Evidence
School Farms Research Document: The Living Classroom
A research document called The Living Classroom - School Farms in the UK: A mapping document is now available to download here: School Farms Research Survey
Improving the quality of student learning through school farms
This is the report of a project to build joint understanding of how school farms might improve the experience of young people’s learning. It was a partnership between the School Farms Network (SFN) and the Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University. The document (11MB) is available to download using following link: Improving Student Learning Through School Farms Report
Project Demonstrates Value of Outdoor Classroom
A Natural England-funded project to demonstrate the enormous benefits of outdoor learning to children and develop a model(s) of using ‘hub’ schools to support and deliver teacher training was delivered by Plymouth University, and was the largest project of its kind in England and helped more than 40,000 primary and secondary school pupils get out of their classrooms and into the outdoors – whether that’s a maths lesson in a local park or drama out on the school field. Read more here.
School Farms: At The Heart Of Outstanding Schools:
This publication from the School Farms Network is aimed primarily at head teachers and education policy makers to highlight the wide range of benefits and positive effects on learning that school farms can bring to a school, its teachers and students, and the local community. Download the document and supporting information via the School Farm Benefits page.
Countryside Classroom is the largest ever partnership of organisations committed to helping children learn about food, farming and the natural environment. Led by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), the founding Consortium members first came together in 2012 with the shared ambition of maximising their reach and impact through long-term collaboration.
By providing a single, easy-to-use source of school support, Countryside Classroom raises the awareness, motivation and ability of teachers to incorporate food, farming and the natural environment into their everyday teaching practice. This helps us to achieve our overall goal for every child to have the opportunity to learn about and experience these essential topics.
The Countryside Classroom Consortium creates an amplified voice that can be heard by both schools and policy makers, increasing the reach, visibility and influence of all partners. It also offers a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge, expertise and networks, to collaborate in new ways and to address shared challenges with like-minded organisations.
School Farms Network - A short history
From a low point in 2006, when there were only 66 school farms, the UK now has more than 120 school farms and many other schools actively engaged in starting a new one. They are situated throughout the UK but with particular concentration in South East England and the West Midlands. Developing a formal support structure for them was an objective for some time, and an initial meeting of school farm practitioners was convened in 2004 at Oathall Community College in Haywards Health, West Sussex, to look at the ways in which this could be taken forward following a gathering of teachers in the previous year.
SF&G Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales has a particular interest in the education of children about farming and growing and has himself visited several school farms. As a result of this drive, the School Farms Network (SFN) was set up in 2004 and offers support and assistance to school farms (both existing and schools considering starting), co-ordinates meetings, provides advice, produces materials and newsletters, CPD, facilitates networking and peer learning, and advocates on behalf of school farms.
The Prince sent a letter of support for the emerging network, in which he said:
"I could not be more pleased to be supporting this conference to promote school farms and gardens as centres of excellence and to serve as a resource to enrich and enhance the curriculum".