Cotswold Farm Park, owned by farmer and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, offers school trips which get pupils into the outdoors learning about animals, farm life and food production. Here, School Travel Organiser finds out more.
A visit to the Farm Park can offer links to the Geography, Science and History curriculums, covering topics such as how the farming industry has developed from prehistoric times to the present day, how the landscape has changed, how livestock has been selectively bred over time to become more productive and the impact of a growing population and industrialisation on modern farming methods.
Moreover the seasonal farming demonstrations (explained in more detail below) have strong links to Science as they help to explain the process of farming, where food comes from, and life cycles.
The activity schedule changes every term to follow the farming year as closely as possible. The sessions are predominantly targeted towards Primary school students, however Secondary school students can also be catered for.
Here are just some of the activities schools can take part in during a visit…
Chick and Rabbit chat
A hands-on activity where students can learn all about collecting the eggs on the farm, its incubators and the hatching process.
The 30-minute session also looks at the differences between some of the farm’s animals and encourages pupils to think about why they are different, as well as ask questions about what the animals eat, where they live and how they need to be looked after.
The session ends with pupils getting the chance to handle some of the animals they have been learning about.
Farm Safari & Tractor School
One of the most popular activities with school students according to Cotswold Farm Park, the 20 minute Farm Safari & Tractor School sees pupils taken on a tractor and trailer ride around the outskirts of the park with a running commentary from one of the team at the farm, who will point out points of interest along the route.
This session is restricted to groups of up to 30.
Field to Fork
Field to fork is a guided discussion which encourages children to think about where the food they eat comes from.
Samples of the farm’s own crops at different stages of production are on hand, so the students can explore the differences in appearance and texture.
There is also the chance for pupils to see the transformation themselves as they grind their own wheat.
The Milking Demonstration session explains where milk comes from and includes facts and figures about commercial milking. There is also a demonstration of both the hand milking process – used to check the health of the teats – and the machine collection of the rest of the milk.
This demonstration explains to students why and how sheep get their hair cut at the same time as they get to watch a shearer shear a sheep.
Schools are welcome to take some of the fleece back to the classroom to develop their own creations from it.
Like the majority of the sessions, the shearing demonstration is only available during a specific period.
In the Demonstration Barn, also known as the maternity unit, students will get to meet the farm’s pregnant ewes, and will receive a talk on the commercial process of lambing on the farm.
If the school visit is timed right, students may even witness a birth of a lamb as a bonus.
Back in the classroom
Talks as part of the visit can be tailored to fit particular class projects or topics being studied at the time.
Cotswold Farm Park also suggests that the visit can help to inspire learning after returning to the classroom through farm themed spelling tests, poems and art projects, or even growing an arable zone or discussing life cycles.
Cotswold Farm Park is currently working on free pre- and post-visit resources to supplement a school trip.
For more information visit www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk/schools/schools-offer.