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 School Farms 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.
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 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
For the third consecutive year the School Farms Network Conference and Awards was held at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, 28th and 29th June.
Whether you are a school manager, senior leader, governor or practitioner (teachers and parents) interested in providing hands-on learning environments to enhance teaching and learning, raise attainment, improve attendance and attention, and/or support pupils to access and succeed in a land-based future (scientist, vet, combine harvest driver, and hundreds of other low and high skill jobs), then the conference was for you, and we plan others in the future, along with regional/country events.
Sessions were both practical, topical, and an opportunity for delegates to learn and contribute at the same time.
The programme included sessions on:
- Access to higher education
- Starting a school farm
- Funding and income generation
- Far East experience of school farms
- BTEC land-based studies
- Using farming to transform the lives of vulnerable children
- Rare breeds & British pig breeds
- Technology, education and farming
- Keeping legal: the legalities of rearing livestock: on-site, movements
- Year of Green Action.
Contacts: Help and Advice
Donna Ashlee (Brockhill Performing Arts School, Kent) is the current chair of SFN and has offered to help answer questions and discuss issues with individual school farm staff who contact her, along with Ian Egginton-Metters who is available to answer or signpost enquiries and pursue opportunities to help develop the Network, hands-on farming and horticultural education in schools.
To contact Donna, email: email@example.com or tel: 01303 265521 / 07872 508109
To contact Ian Egginton-Metters, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07939 230053
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.
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.
HRH The Prince of Wales sent a letter of support for the event and 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".
The Prince 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.