Katie Campbell, year lead and class teacher at Kelvin Grove Primary School, London, describes the impact a residential with Farms for City Children had on pupils. 

At Kelvin Grove we recognise the importance of pupils learning where their food comes from, how essential it is to eat a healthy and balanced diet and to understand farming in the UK. This is why we take up to 39 pupils to a Farms for City Children site at least once a year.

Kelvin Grove is an inner-city school which has 34% Pupil Premium and 40% English as an Additional Language (EAL). We have a high percentage of Special Needs pupils, with 25% being on the SEND Register and 60 Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCPs).

Kelvin Grove Primary School students taking part in a Farms for City Children residential

Pupils collected eggs to have for their breakfast.

The much-anticipated trip to Nethercott Farm began early on Monday morning, when the pupils arrived at school ready to board the coach to Devon.

Upon arriving at Nethercott House, one pupil said: “We can’t be staying here, it is a mansion!” Within minutes the children were tucking into a delicious homemade Devon cream tea and being introduced to the enthusiastic and encouraging team, who are there to support, develop and care for them. Going into the stable yard, a Year 5 pupil, touched the teacher’s arm and said, “Miss, Miss, that’s a real live horse!”

Back in the classroom

The impact that these five days have on pupils is immeasurable. Having taken a large number of pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties to Nethercott House, we have seen huge, long-lasting changes. Examples of this include two pupils with severe anxiety, who, after going to the farm, were able to walk into school without having to be supported.

Also, one boy with anger issues told staff that there was no way he was touching Seb the horse. By the end of the equine grooming session, he was burying his head into Seb’s neck and telling him that he would be coming back to see him again. This change in attitude came with him back to the classroom, where the number of incidents reduced greatly, his attendance at school improved and his relationships with adults in the school became solid and respectful.

Whilst at the farm, the pupils enjoyed a wide range of activities led by the dedicated staff, including grooming the horses and donkeys, planting seeds, feeding the poultry and making food to share with their peers. Although ‘waking up time’ (6.45am) was initially greeted with a groan, the pupils quickly got into the groove, collecting eggs for breakfast, feeding the sheep at a neighbouring farm or checking on any new piglets that may have been born. As the three groups carried out four different activities over the course of the day, the children had much to talk about when they sat together for the three cooked meals each day.

Kelvin Grove Primary School students taking part in a Farms for City Children residential

The groups forged new friendships while discovering what life is like on a working farm.

One member of staff who had not been to Nethercott Farm prior to accompanying the group on their latest trip commented on how fantastic it was to see the children working, playing, chatting together, and being able to forget about their home lives, if only for a week. She also said that the friendships forged whilst at the farm, would never have happened back at school.

For more information, go to farmsforcitychildren.org, call 01392 276381 or email admin@farmsforcitychildren.org.