Friday, 12 August 2011

Schools given lessons on rural life

Primary teachers are being encouraged to sign up for a regular free video bulletin from farming and the countryside.

The 10-minute videos will be supported by notes to help to link the content with the various key stages of the national curriculum at primary level and also with the obligations of the popular Eco Schools Award.

Former pig farmer and practising teacher Mark Thompson is putting the packages together in collaboration with Julie Langdale, education officer at the Stockbridge Technology Centre at Cawood, near Selby, Yorkshire, which does research for growers and organises growing lessons for children.

Both partners are putting a lot of free labour into being ready to launch the project when schools restart in September. If they get the interest, they hope to fix sponsorship or persuade schools to come up with a small fee to carry on getting the material after the trial year.

The idea is to produce one package a fortnight to start with. Samples, made in April and May this year, are available at

Mark Thompson and Graham Ward, chief executive of Stockbridge Technology Centre, have been collaborating on a diary of the year, specifically aimed at schools, taking in work done at Stockbridge Technology Centre and various other farms and reports from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

They produced the first two sample bulletins in March and April – featuring lambing, rooks nesting and the planting of peas and potatoes – and are now preparing for the full launch in September. See the Discovering Our Countryside website or email mark@agriculture-4- or Farmers are also wanted, to suggest topics and volunteer for filming.

Mr Thompson said: “I have had quite a lot of interest in this sort of material from teachers in the past, but they try it and then they forget about it or they get too busy to take it in as an extra. We think the key is to give them something that is already prepared and which fits into what they already have to do.

“Ten minutes once a fortnight means they do not have to re-plan to take it in. It can be easily linked into the curriculum and national initiatives such as ‘sustainable schools’ and ‘healthy schools’ that they need to discuss anyway.”
© Yorkshire Post

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