Cow and girl Cow and girl

SEND farm visits with Coordinator Julie Oxley

Julie Oxley, Farm Discovery Coordinator, tells us about her experience working with children and young people with SEND needs and what makes these visits so meaningful to all those involved.   

Can you explain why these Farm Discovery visits are important for SEND children?  

Teachers often mention that their children and young people do not experience the wider world due to their SEND needs. Family and friends can fear the repercussions if a child struggles to regulate their emotions in public and how that may be received. 

They have very limited life experiences, so our visits are impactful and provide valuable time in nature and connecting with nature.   

Farm Discovery visits provide opportunities for 'first-time' experiences; tasting new foods and exploring different places.  In addition, these experiences open up future career opportunities that they'd otherwise not consider; providing them with the confidence to explore their interests, unique skills and knowledge they demonstrate through conversations on the visit.  


How do you adapt your practice to working with children and young people with SEND needs on a farm visit?   

The key to a successful visit with SEND children begins with a thorough pre-visit, learning about the children and young people who will be coming out onto the farm. Understanding their challenges helps us to shape activities to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed. We discuss with teachers a wide range of activities based on the children’s abilities and link them with any curriculum outcomes the school would like to be delivered whilst on the farm.  


Can you tell us about your experience with SEND farm visits? 

Schools often bring a smaller cohort onto the farm, which allows the Coordinators the opportunity to build a relationship with every child, to support and encourage them to try new things which they may find challenging. And, when they do, the reward is fabulous. Teachers and teaching assistants know their children and young people very well and can see if anyone is struggling. They instinctively know how to settle the children which allows the rest of the group to continue with an activity if there is any disruption. This partnership between the Coordinator and teacher works really well.  

Knowing about previous links with the curriculum also helps on a visit to enable us to reflect on what the children learn on the farm and how this links with earlier learning in school.  This consolidates the knowledge for the children and young people who often take great pride in explaining what the earlier learning involved.  The teachers celebrate this with the children and young people.   


Why is it important for children and young people with SEND needs to take part in a farm visit?   

Children and young people with SEND needs often flourish in the farm environment after settling in with initial introductions and finding their bearings on the farm.

...on the farm, they are supported to learn at their own pace getting hands-on, and for many, they are in their element.    

The children enjoy the freedom of being outside and often show their knowledge in discussions about technical equipment used on the farm and aspire to work on a farm in the future.  SEND students can often struggle within a typical school environment as they are required to concentrate on a set topic for a set period of time. Whereas on the farm, they are supported to learn at their own pace getting hands-on, and for many, they are in their element.    


What do you find most interesting when supporting SEND farm visits?  

It is interesting to hear the children and young people discussing what they are doing with their friends as often their memory is verbatim of what has been said. I've also seen a lot of peer-to-peer support which is a fantastic skill and greatly enhances learning.  An example of this was when Newsome High School’s nurture unit visited New Hall Farm in December - we did a soil activity and examined the roots of different cover crops. The farmer explained what to look for and how to identify different plants - the young people quickly grasped the concept, dug up a variety of different plants and explained what they were and how they had identified them. 


If you are a specialist SEND or SEMH school, please contact us at to find out if you are eligible for free support.