Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
UPDATE AUGUST 2020
We are incredibly sad that over 10,000 children were unable to take part in our Farm, Food and Countryside Discovery programmes during the summer term and summer holidays, particularly because we know that many of those children, already experiencing disadvantage, will have had a disproportionately hard time of it during lockdown.
There have been some shafts of sunlight though - have a look at our news page to see the wonderful things going on in some of our Food Discovery schools, and also the fabulous growing packs created by our team for Barnardo's and hundreds of Young Carers in the NE and NW. We have also created ' A pocketful of ideas' - a short series of CPD videos - in response to requests from teachers for ideas for learning outside the classroom. It's been great to hear how children have really flourished outside.
With the Department for Education giving the greenlight for non-residential educational visits from September we are very excited that some schools are booking in for Farm Discovery visits in the autumn term, and some are planning to welcome our Food Discovery Coordinators back.
Our other big news is that we have created a new programme for those schools not yet able to come out on visits. Farm in a Box is farm centred, but designed to be delivered in school, it will help children make connections between their lives and farming, enhancing the impact of a farm visit when it comes. Based on a survey of teacher priorities, each Farm in a Box will include activities, investigations and challenges focused on a specific aspect of farming. Language, communication and well-being are woven through.
The themes we have chosen are:
- Seeds we eat (arable),
- Animals - choose from beef, sheep, dairy
The Boxes are based on a real farm, with video content from a local farmer. The plan is that most Boxes will lead to farm visits as soon as the school and the farm are able.
Trials over the last couple of weeks have been very successful
“It opens a wonderful door of possibilities in these times. The farm in the box is such a gorgeous idea and the pupils were so engaged “ Anita Warren, Assistant Head St Christopher’s
and the response to a flier sent out right at the end of term has been excellent so far. We designed the programme to strengthen some areas of our practice that we have been wanting to address – sustained impact, extended support for teachers - and will be monitoring this closely. We held a webinar for our farmer hosts on September 10th to talk through farm visits in the new operating environment, and to introduce Farm in a Box. You can watch our webinar here
If you’re a farmer and would like to get involved, or a teacher who’d like to know more please do message us.
We also remain committed to trying to influence policy in support of food, farming and countryside education, a relatively new venture for us. Our first big moment was the Committee Stage of the Agriculture Bill in the House of Lords when our amendment was finally debated. You can read all about it here on our website, or in Hansard, or you can watch the video coverage and catch all 19 Peers who spoke up in support of our amendment and the importance of educational access to farms. We are grateful to Lord Curry for tabling the amendment and for Lord Boswell for his support. We have now written to Lord Gardiner to ask him to follow through on his assertion that educational access is vital and are very pleased to have a growing number of organisations and individuals as signatories to our letters, now including the CLA.
We have also submitted evidence to The COVID-19 and Food Supply inquiry and the Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on education and children's services In the coming weeks we plan to get involved in the next phase of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission work as well as continuing tpo keep pace with the National Food Strategy, the Environment Bill and supporting the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. If you’d like to know more please do ask, or keep an eye on the new Speak up section of our website (under Get Involved).
In the midst of Covid-19 we haven’t forgotten climate change and were really thrilled to be awarded a grant recently by the HCD Memorial Fund to develop and deliver a programme of 20 climate change related farm visits. We are starting work on the framework now and if this is an area of strong interest for you, or if you know of a farmer who you think should be involved please do let us know.
Thank you for your continued support