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Farm School

Introduction

Farm School is a long-term programme, combining in-school activity with off-site visits over a number of years, to help children’s personal, social and emotional development (PSED).

It involves a variety of teaching and learning activities including crafts, games, exploring, play, and manual work such as farming and gardening tasks.

Farm School is purposefully less “formal” than classroom learning, with flexibility in plans to follow children’s interests, play being a key part of learning, and discussion positively encouraged.

Aims

Farm School is based on the view of education as the holistic development of pupils and recognises that academic achievement, knowledge and skills acquisition, and PSED are all intrinsically linked. The Farm School curriculum focuses on pupil’s PSED, understanding that this will have broader benefits.

Farm school curriculum

4 Key Areas:

Resilience & self-regulation The format, activities and expectations of Farm School allow pupils the time and space to overcome difficulties.

To enable this, pupils build up familiarity and confidence with both space and staff.

They are then presented with achievable challenges appropriate to their skill level.

Pupils agree their own ground rules and expectations of themselves, each other, and staff. With guidance, these rules ensure that pupils have the time and freedom to process and deal with their emotions if they are angry, upset, etc.

Emotional expression

Reflection forms a critical part of Farm School.

Staff facilitate appropriate techniques for pupils to consider their emotions, their struggles and their achievements.

Pupils are able to speak freely about how they feel and given opportunities to express themselves in a variety of ways, thus negating the need for disruptive behaviour.

“Negative” emotional states are not punished, but staff work with pupils to ensure their basic needs are met and emotional states can improve. You might find that rules and expectations differ slightly when out on the farm.

Choice & independence

Pupils have an element of control over their own learning. Many activities will include options and choice for pupils to gain ownership of their learning activities.

More importantly, pupil-led activity is an integral part of Farm School, where pupils repeatedly have the time and scope to carry out a wide variety of activities and the freedom to choose what suits their interest.

Though guided by the staff, pupils can follow their own interests and may choose to sustain practice at one activity or sample a broad range.

This freedom gives pupils greater independence and responsibility for their learning and can lead to deeper understanding.

Team work

Farm School facilitates a wide variety of activities where collaboration is essential. Pupils work together to accomplish bigger challenges such as feeding or mucking out farm animals and growing vegetables.

These activities could not be accomplished alone, and so demonstrate the power of, and necessity, for working with others. Pupils learn and practice the necessary communication and cooperation skills needed for this.

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