Milefield received a grant of £10,000 from the Park Spring Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund to pay the salary of a trained farm teaching supervisor, called Sam. Sam has been brought on for the school’s newly established on-site community farm and café for use by the school and the local community.
The school’s farm was successfully set up with the help of a number of local businesses and volunteers and is now home to a range of animals including chickens, sheep, rabbits, miniature ponies, alpacas and pigs. They are also growing a number of vegetables and crops on the allotment. Another field owned by the school is utilised as a paddock to be used by the animals in warmer weather.
In Sam’s role, he carries out the day-to-day maintenance of the farm, allowing the school to provide numerous opportunities for formal and informal learning which has been beneficial for keeping pupils engaged.
The use of the farm and its produce by Sam for education allows the school to teach pupils about where their food comes from and the key components of healthy eating, whilst ensuring it maintains the pupils’ attention as they are able to get outdoors and do something entirely different to their traditional classroom work.
Sessions outside of school hours are also proving popular. The school gets pupils to help out with farm work whilst teaching them about the animals and crops. Around 100 pupils attend each week despite them only running across Tuesdays Wednesdays and Thursdays. These sessions are all outdoors and include adventurous play, physical challenges, creative activities, opportunities to interact with animals, social skill building, collaboration, and the opportunity to develop a respect for and understanding of the natural world.
Milefield school also makes use of the farm and Sam’s knowledge by incorporating aspects of farm life into the curriculum and using it to teach pupils about animals life cycles, farming and the horticultural seasons.
As Sam is an experienced joiner he has also run sessions with groups of pupils aged between 4 and 11 to work on various projects such as the designing and building of their own enclosures for animals as well as the creation of
Eco-Greenhouses and bird boxes. Thereby further utilising the farm and its environment to provide unique and interactive opportunities to help with the development of Milefield’s pupils.
Business Manager at the school, Elizabeth Ealand said: “The farm is a fantastic resource to have on our doorstep that we can use to ensure a full curriculum coverage. Pupils are able to ‘nip down’ for ten minutes to research an animal project or complete a two-hour session learning about the animals and creating new signage for other visitors.”
Prior to being able to employ Sam, Milefield Primary School had been approached by interested schools and community groups looking to make use of the farm, but they felt they had a limited capacity to carry out community outreach work through the farm and were unable to properly prepare and supervise these sessions. The grant has since allowed them to engage with the wider community and they have been able to successfully promote healthy eating to the people of Grimethorpe. Furthermore, local schools have begun to bring their own classes to the farm to help improve their teaching capabilities. Without Sam, the school feel that they would not be able to offer such a valuable service to their community.
Elizabeth added: “We had an individual who came from Talent Match and worked with our Farm TA. She completed a successful 10-week placement with Sam who trained her in all aspects of working on a farm and with the community. They went on to secure employment following this placement and are still working there today. Sam is very proud of this achievement.
“Sam would like to take on more apprenticeships in his role and train them to develop their skills of working outdoors, caring for animals and working with children.”
In conjunction with the farm, the school run a community café that is open 2 days a week. The café makes use of the farm’s produce and helps to teach pupils about other stages of the food production process. Furthermore, the café provides another means of engaging school children to learn about new topics and areas of life.