Charity LEAF Education has launched the first national network of Demonstration Schools, set up to showcase best practice in food and farming education.
The schools will act as best practice examples of using food production, farming and the countryside as a core element of the school curriculum. This could be around exemplary teaching methods, engagement with farmers, provision of school gardens, nature-friendly grounds and wider school community engagement as well as events and activities specifically designed around the field to fork story.
Primary and secondary schools will be selected as LEAF Education Demonstration Schools in one of three categories – Bronze, Silver and Gold. LEAF education regional consultants will work closely with schools to support them in achieving each of the categories.
Carl Edwards, director of education and public engagement at LEAF Education, explained: “Farming is relevant to every aspect of the curriculum. We want to shine a light on schools that are leading the way in embedding farming into their teaching and support them in developing a whole school ethos.
“We want to share best practice, encourage innovation and drive forward real improvements in how our young people connect with their food, how it is produced and where it comes from. Equally, we want to support schools by helping them through Action Research to develop a well-rounded and successful community that has a unique sense of its place by using local farmers and food production.
“Developing a network of schools across the UK which are leading the way in this area will help recognise and support the excellent work already being done by so many schools, help champion best practice and, provide a valuable focal point to inspire other schools.”
Mr Edwards added: ““We are delighted to launch this pioneering new programme of demonstration schools, focusing specifically on food production and farming education. Much evidence shows that providing young people with opportunities to learn about how their food is produced and where it comes from, has huge positive impacts in terms of promoting health and well-being, raising awareness of issues around climate change, environmental protection, population growth and sustainability.
“Our aim is to work alongside our demonstration schools and the wider farming and education sectors to set gold standards in agricultural education provision.”
Twenty primary and secondary schools will be launched as demonstration schools over the next academic year.