"The Farm Project provides children (and staff) with a once in a life time opportunity to work and live on a farm for a week.
Like all schools must do, we questioned why only 10 children can attend and why 3 adults must also attend with such low quantities of children, but when you get there and get involved, you understand why.
The trip allows you to see sides of children you never knew (very stereotypical, but true).
We took children who were not academically strong and not at age related targets, children with family issues and other children who needed to work in teams and bring out confidence.
All of these children changed within this week and this has then helped them to develop a greater personal character.
We took one boy in particular who is far from age related targets. A boy who in the classroom will not be able to succeed as much as his peers. It is for this reason we took him. If we were talking about his involvement at the farm, he certainly would be top of the class! He thrived under a different learning environment. The farm distracts you from the cross- curricular maths and science that is used within farming activities like counting the eggs, weighing out flour and understanding about reproduction linking it in with milk. This particular boy was so hands on and involved, it was incredible to see.
We have really witnessed a number of children who attended the trip develop into a character we never knew they had."
Haydn Bettles, Food Education Co-ordinator, Armitage School, Manchester
"There have been so many positive 'spin offs' for the young people but I would summarise it in the following way : each of the children now has the seed of an idea that 'life can be different'."
Head of Service, Swindon EOTAS
Prior to the trip this student had a considerable amount of negative points on his school record, with a total of 41 negative behaviour points this school year - the majority of these points being awarded for defiance, non-compliance and fighting. Having never met or worked with the student I was very wary about him being part of the group.
I can now say that he was probably the best behaved student there. He was polite and so helpful to the staff, without even being asked on some occasions. He showed such thoughtfulness to the animals, and was generally just a lovely little boy.
I really couldn’t believe that the child with us, at the farm, was the one described on his school record. The environment and activities at the farm obviously brought out the very best in him.
Also, and very significant, is the fact that since our return to school he has had no negative behaviours logged, but has had 22 positive behaviours. This experience appears to have made a hugely positive impact on this student.
K's Group Leader, Swindon
"The week gave opportunities our pupils that could not have been gained anywhere else:
-Independence, “all” children stayed away from home for the full week. A number of the children experience anxieties and this was a huge challenge. With support from peers, staff and their own courage, all children were able to stay for the whole week enabling them to take advantage of the full farm experience.
-Cooking every meal from scratch and then eating together and clearing up provided the opportunity for acquiring new skills.
-Practical skills cutting, mashing, stirring, cleaning, using cutlery appropriately, laying the table, washing up,
-Being brave to try new foods, experiences and social interactions, eg milking cows, caring for horses
-Physically the group were active all week. On their feet pretty much all day, moving in ways they wouldn’t on an everyday basis. Lifting and carrying animal foods, stretching to build a den in the woods, using their whole bodies to use saws and axes.
-Chances to just ‘be’ outdoors and indoors.Being immersed by the outdoors and the natural environment.
-Social time, group bonded playing inventive games created themselves for example when den building for an extended period of time. All group members were involved, there developed a lovely sense of inclusion and this continued into other art activities over the following days. In less structured times the group played lots of board games, colouring, puppet making, all self initiated, staff were purely facilitating. There was a massive amount of fun and laughter (very few fall outs)
-Self reliance and resilience
-Building team work and communications
-Acquiring new skills, cooking, washing up, gardening, grooming, wood chopping, fire lighting.
-Learning about production processes involved in business eg caring for hens, collecting eggs, grading the eggs, boxing them up and delivering them to the shop for sale."
Sarah Banner Pastoral Lead, Castle Hill Primary School
"Having spent 3 residential days at the farm with a group of SEND learners it never fails to impress me how this project engages all abilities in learning, with life skills, team work, confidence building and hospitality.
Highly recommend an educational residential here you will not be disappointed you and your students will reap rewards that are not achievable within the classroom. Thank you to the team. Third year running gets better every time"
Tutor, Gloucestershire College
We have visited Abbey Home Farm for two years in a row now and will definitely be coming back for a third. The children gain so much from the farm from harvesting fruit and vegetables, to milking cows to preparing and making all their own food. The whole residential from beginning to end provides the children with a unique, therapeutic and meaningful experience. It encourages the children to be resilient, as they are met with new challenges every day, and they learn to be reciprocal and pull together as a team. New friendships flourish and mealtimes are a very special occasion where conversation and independence are encouraged. Thank-you Abbey Home Farm – we were so lucky to find you!
Nic Cole, Assistant Headteacher & SENDCO, London
Our second year at the farm and although it seems impossible, it was even better than the last. We all learnt so much, had a fantastic time and overcame many worries and fears. The farm provides something very special for children.
Helen, Headteacher, London
It is lovely living on this farm for a week. It is even better than Old MacDonalds farm.
Osmani, 9, London
The year 7 and 8 SEN and Pupil Premium children were primarily students with self-confidence, anxiety, and social skills difficulties. The small group of six children meant that the children opened up about their experiences in a way that they felt unable to do within a whole class, or large group environment.
We saw visible differences in the students as their time on the farm progressed. We saw growth in confidence, and an improvement in social skills. The children bonded together with both their room partners and their working groups and the farm activities allowed for invaluable opportunities for team work. They showed amazing perseverance, which was rewarded with success, and a lot of fun and laughter.
This trip gave the opportunity for positive learning in a wonderful environment which is relaxed and lead by a thoroughly dedicated team at the farm.
Janet Ackrill, Learning & Intervention Manager, Swindon
Pupil Premium children were assessed and specifically chosen to attend a two day residential trip to the farm in June 2016. The ratio of two adults to six children meant that the children opened up about their experiences in a way that they felt unable to do within a whole class environment. One of the children presented to the Governing Body, outlining her experience at the farm. She said she felt she was able to open up in class and wasn’t as shy. The very fact that she presented to a group of adults was testament in itself to how her confidence had grown. This growth in confidence was also evident in one of the other children in the group. He made particular friendships within the small group of children which has enhanced his day to day experiences in class. There has also been a rise in his attendance rate which has been historically poor. One of the children felt more accepted by his peer group on his return to school as he had bonded with children from other friendship groups whilst at the farm. Although it is too early to tell how this increase in confidence has affected results, increase in emotional wellbeing is evident.
Donna Eaton, Headteacher, Swindon
As a pupil referral unit we place great emphasis on helping our students recognise their own strengths and potential. We have a robust two year programme designed to instil a sense of ‘self-worth’. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from both pupils and staff and we usually see a positive change start to occur with a couple of months.
To our delight what usually takes us months to see we actually saw in a couple of days.
Pupils had the opportunity to take part in ativities that will probably stay with them for the rest of their lives. Every pupil was captivated by at least one activity and it was a pleasure to see them develop before our eyes. We saw a group of challenging individuals turn into a team and work together for a common goal, preparing a meal completing a task or just having fun.
The experience has also helped with staff pupil relationships.
Lorraine Balmer, Tutor, Stratton Education Centre PRU, Swindon
Whilst staying on the farm I also learnt so much about young people's values and thoughts.
Nicolas, Social Worker
We visited for the second time in 12 months with 10 year 6 students. CG is in an area of high deprivation with many of children entitled to FSM. Many of our children may never get the opportunity to visit places outside of York which is why visiting The Farm Project is such an important part of our school year.
The visit is a chance for the children to become independent and to learn how to work as a team. The fact that it is a residential allows time to bond and get to know each other and to rely on each other. Educationally the farm provides the entire curriculum in a practical hands on way. The small group size really allows for each child to have a fulfilling experience. The range of activities allows the children to take ownership of the farm for a week. They take their jobs very seriously and feel a great responsibility towards the animals and each other.
The experience helped the children overcome anxieties around some of the animals. Many of the children tasted many new foods which they have not had the chance to do before. The children developed their knowledge of self-care and became more independent as the week went on.
Lisa, Teacher, York
I loved every second of it, I enjoyed learning new things . Know one noticed but we were doing maths English and much more on our trip to The Farm for example we were doing maths by working out how many eggs we collected that included multiplication and adding. At the beginning I had a fear of touching animals but after a week at The Farm, I have over come my fear and I love stroking cows, chickens and horses!
Lucy, 11, Clifton Green
We visited the Farm Project with a varied group of students with SEND ( Special Educational Needs and Disabilities ) from Gloucestershire College was a challenge for all involved.
The team at The Farm Project were amazing, so open to questioning and eager to make the stay the best experience for the students. It is refreshing to work with people who are able to see the benefits for the students and who do not see the SEND first and foremost. The ethos of the project is so flexible and relaxed that all of the students came away having had a good experience.
For the college the amalgamation of the skills taught throughout the year that was able to be put into practice in a working environment was key. The additional soft skill learning that took place was second to none.
Students and parents who were apprehensive about staying away settled very quickly and came away full of excitement and achievement.
The experiences they partook in were of those that could not be found anywhere else.
I would totally recommend The Farm Project for experiential learning and development of independence living skills in the sector or SEND within education and for groups of a recreational nature.
Positive learning in a positive environment which is relaxed and lead by individualised learning.
Sharon Batcock, Gloucestershire College
The farm was the perfect place for our team to work together away from the usual interruptions of everyday life. More importantly, though, we spent time with each other – working things out, making decisions, making mistakes, trying out new experiences, facing fears, showing strengths, overcoming weaknesses, walking, laughing, cooking, eating…
The range of activities offered in getting to know aspects of the farm were a great ‘vehicle’ for our team to get to know each other a bit more. Opportunities for us to co-operate collectively by completing significant and purposeful tasks on the farm gave us the chance to learn about our own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses whilst at the same time learn about the farm. Everyone we met had time for us and gave us the knowledge to go away and think about what we had seen and contributed to. From collecting, grading and packing eggs to milking cows and gardening, we had the unique opportunity to learn about the importance of the way our food can be grown and produced, as well as the chance to talk and build relationships in a friendly, informal and safe environment.
By suggesting, encouraging and supporting us,the farm staff enabled us all to do some things we might otherwise never have done. We found strength and warmth in each other’s company. Finally, and equally significantly, our weekend at The Farm Project enabled us to learn something about ourselves too.
Cristina, Teacher, Swindon
The students were able to have an experience that was totally unique, fun and enhanced their own skills not only educationally but socially and developed team building skills, communication skills as well as them having the opportunity to take part in activities never experienced before.
Sara, Teacher, London
The transformation across the four days was also noticed, the students learnt a lot but over and above that they had an experience. We left with nine individuals and returned with a team.
Dan, Teacher, London
They learnt to be more self-sufficient, trust their strengths, challenge their weaknesses and interact well with everyone
Emma, Teacher, London
The farm visit was the best experience of my life. I learnt about different plant groups and crop rotation. I learnt about the raising of animals humanely. It was a great experience and it would have been better if it was longer.
Jonnie, Student, London