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Overview

The 'Farm in the City' programme was run as a pilot scheme for the Year 8 Gifted & Talented pupils of all Wolverhampton secondary schools. This outline explains how it operated and offers suggestions for adaptation to meet other requirements.

Should you need further information or wish to discuss the possibility of Farming & Countryside Education (FACE) preparing a similar programme for you, please contact us on0845 838 7192 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The programme was devised in response to a need to offer value-added learning activities which focus on the development of individual pupils' gifts or talents. It was decided that the pupils would be grouped around the following forms of intelligence:
1. Musical
2. Spatial
3. Motor
4. Linguistic
5. Logical
6. Personal

This could easily be altered to focus more specifically on curriculum areas. Similarly, the programme need not be run for Gifted & Talented pupils but might be offered as part of an industry or activity week, for example.

Go to topOrganisation
In the pilot scheme, the Gifted & Talented Co-ordinator was responsible for liaising with all the schools. Each school had a teacher responsible for Gifted & Talented pupils and this teacher selected the pupils to be involved, attended organisational meetings and was responsible for keeping staff informed.

The pilot scheme revealed a number of weaknesses that could be addressed in the following ways:

  • Offer a preparatory visit to the farm for all teachers involved.
  • Highlight the importance of all participating teachers being briefed about learning styles, objectives of project and their role.
  • Prepare briefing sheet outlining objectives and the role of staff during visit.

Farming & Countryside Education (FACE) was responsible for the development and the delivery of the programme which included use of workshop presenters and facilitators.

A risk assessment of the farm used for the visits was provided in advance to the schools taking part. Teachers appreciated this.

Go to topThe programme

There were two components to the programme
1. field research
2. plenary session comprising workshops and debate.

Go to top1. Field Research

The field research comprised a stimulus visit to a working farm. The pilot project worked with around 300 children and so 6 farm visits were arranged. Obviously, the logistics could be altered to accommodate varying numbers of pupils. The farm chosen needs to be accustomed to school visits, should have toilet and hand washing facilities and a wet-weather area to accommodate all the pupils. The farm chosen for the pilot scheme was a land-based college farm. The farm manager was able and willing to answer pupils' questions about the farm and about agriculture in today's economy. Students from the college had knowledge of the farm and its operations and were able to act as 'guides' around the farm. Another useful source of experienced facilitators is the Field Studies Council.

Morning session
It is important to make the farm visit as active as possible. The farm chosen needs to offer a variety of enterprises if possible and there should be plenty of activity for the pupils to witness. There can be problems with observing milking because of the times of milking sessions.

A warm up activity was planned for the start of the day. This should be carried out in groups with a facilitator allocated to each group. The exercise served several purposes: it allowed pupils a short time to get to know other members of their groups (and in the pilot scheme groups comprised pupils from several different schools); it enabled them to find their way around the farm and its buildings; and it started them thinking about the work of the farm. The warm up exercise is included as Appendix A

After the warm up activity the pupils were able to pose questions to the farmer about things they had seen. This session could be accommodated at any time of the day to suit individual programmes. All groups were set an investigative exercise or task to research related to particular skills and were required to make choices in order to complete them. The exercises are included in Appendix B.

Afternoon session
Pupils work in groups developing the work and material collected during the morning session. A considerable amount of space may be needed, as some groups will be editing tape recordings. Teachers accompanying groups need to be aware that they need to play a more active role in organising group activity.

Time also needs to be given to formulating questions for 'Question Time' at the plenary session. It will be their chance to ask questions of the experts but also express their views about the role and management of the countryside today.

Go to top2. The plenary session

In the pilot scheme this ran from 9.30 to 1 p.m. and was divided into workshop sessions and a Question Time event. Because of the large numbers of pupils involved the programme was arranged as follows:
GROUP 1 (150 pupils)
9.30am Group 1 workshop sessions.
11.00am Interval
11.30am Group 1 Debate
12.30pm End of session

GROUP 2
10.00am Group 2 Debate
11.00am Interval
11.30am Group 2 workshop sessions
1.00pm End of session

The evaluation carried out revealed that many participants would have preferred a full day for the plenary session with more time for the workshops and a space to allow feedback from group sessions.

Another possibility would be the organisation of workshops on the farm following the farm visit and activities. This would lead to a fuller and lengthier day on the farm but might be more appealing in some circumstances.

Go to topThe workshops

The workshops were again based around the six forms of intelligence but these could be changed to suit individual schools' needs. Consultants were paid to run the workshops. FACE can provide details if required. Prior to the event, teachers should be made aware of the workshop content and pupils allocated to named workshops to save organisational time on the day.

Workshop 1 (logical)

Technology-based, taking a dairy product and looking at its role in the food chain via design, production and marketing activities.

Workshop 2 (musical)

Using music, dance and drama to create a performance about a working day on the farm. The work not only develops artistic skills but also promotes self-awareness and self esteem.

Workshop 3 (motor)

The finalising and development of work carried out on the farm to produce an orienteering course for a farm wishing to offer self guided trails to its customers. This could include, map work, risk analysis and countryside code.

 

 

Workshop 4 (spatial)

Working with an artist to make three- dimensional constructions representing an understanding of the many ways in which the farmer maintains the countryside.

Workshop 5 (logical/spatial)

With guidance from a working farmer the group considers the farm as a business looking at inputs, outputs and costings.

Workshop 6 (personal/linguistic)

Using a variety of recording media such as digital cameras, tape recorders and video, this group reports back on the whole process of the day. Their work can form the basis of a website presentation.

Go to topDebate/'Question Time'

A panel of volunteer experts was brought together to answer questions from the pupils. This was an opportunity to raise and debate controversial issues in farming from a range of perspectives and the evaluation showed it to be a very popular activity. Experts at the pilot session included a farmer and representatives from environmental and agricultural organisations. If funds allow, a person skilled in the management of debates is useful to chair the sessions.
FACE can offer advice and contacts for those wishing to bring together a panel.

Go to topEvaluation
At the end of the programme, all students were asked to complete an evaluation form. This consisted of two parts:

  • a series of questions about aspects of the course and views on the countryside
  • six open ended questions to encourage personal reflection

Click here to see evaluation form