As Coronavirus restrictions across most of the UK continue to ease, a Northumberland farm has opened its doors for its first educational visits since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
Broxfield Farm, a working cattle and wheat farm based near Alnwick in Northumberland, welcomed Reception pupils from Bishop’s Primary School as part of a ‘Farm Discovery’ programme organised through national education charity, The Country Trust.
Designed to help children from urban areas to gain access to the countryside and learn more about the important role that agriculture plays in our food supply chain, the visits offer a unique way for children to learn about nature, the food they eat and how the countryside works – at a level tailored to their own age and understanding.
Over the course of two days, pupils from Bishop’s Primary School’s Josephine Butler and William Leech Campuses respectively descended on Broxfield Farm, where David Thompson and his family have tended the land for more than 200 years.
The pupils, aged 4-5, spent the days learning about food and farming and the connection between the two. They enjoyed a ride through the fields on a purpose-built passenger trailer, tried their hand at feeding some of the Aberdeen Angus suckler cows, including Pip and Dallas the bulls, milled their own flour from grains of wheat and enjoyed a nature trail through the ‘enchanted forest’ which surrounds the farmland.
Vicky Dewar, Deputy Director of Early Years at Bishop’s Primary School, commented:
“Due to Covid restrictions, our youngest learners have missed out on so much. Under normal circumstances, our early years curriculum at Bishop’s Primary is packed full with day trips and experiences for the children to enjoy as part of their learning, so it was wonderful to be able to finally get back to some kind of ‘normal’ and take our Reception pupils out on their first ever educational visit to the farm.
“For some of our children, this visit was their first experience of the countryside. Getting to see farm animals up close and just enjoy all of the open space is so important for their personal development and wellbeing, especially after so long in lockdown. We’re incredibly grateful to Farmer David for having us and to The Country Trust for making it possible.”
David Thompson has been heavily involved with the charity for over 20 years and hosts many visits to Broxfield each year. He said:
“It’s been great to welcome school trips back to the farm again. Over the years, I’ve worked with schools from all across the North East, hosting visits for pupils from Reception age, right up to Year 6. With each age group, the activities remain largely the same, the ‘pitch’ is what varies. With the little ones, it’s about helping them to explore the countryside safely and teaching them about the things which live and grow on a farm, whereas with older children, you can get into more detail about environmental concerns and the idea of food traceability.
“I was so impressed with the pupils from Bishop’s Primary School. For being so young, they were so engaged and attentive and asked some great questions. On both days that the pupils visited, new calves had just been born, which was a real bonus – to be able to show the children hours-old animals. They were amazed that the baby cows could already walk! A great time was had by all and I look forward to welcoming more pupils throughout the summer.”
Bishop’s Primary School operates as part of Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust (NCEAT), a multi-academy Trust for pupils aged 2-19.
For more information about The Country Trust, visit www.countrytrust.org.uk.