Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many children have missed out on the opportunity to take part in educational visits over the past fourteen months. Learning outside the classroom however is a fantastic way to create rich, engaging experiences and bring the curriculum to life for young minds.
First School Visits
The sound of school coaches pulling on to Barleylands car park this week put big smiles on the children’s, teacher’s and Barleylands Education Team’s faces when over 120 school children were able to visit the farm, in their COVID-safe bubbles. The children and teachers were able to enjoy tractor rides, meet the animals and cook in the kitchens, with sessions that linked to their literacy, maths and science lessons from school. During their time at the farm, the children were able to learn where their food came from and understand more about farming, while of course having lots of fun!
To ensure that children can still experience Barleylands Farm Park and benefit from its educational value, without leaving their classroom, the Education Team recently also created a virtual outreach package for schools, nurseries and groups to enjoy. The idea came from Karen Watson, the Education Officer at Barleylands, who understood that many educators and group leaders were still unable to plan visits and travel this school year, yet still wanted the children to experience rich, engaging lessons that they would have been able to previously.
Karen worked with her education team to develop an innovative learning experience – which was formally launched on the 20th of April 2021. Four classes enjoyed the virtual outreach session on launch day from the safety of their school, joining Karen in the virtual classroom for a lesson all about where their food comes from. They also followed Education team members, Josie and Lizzie, as they toured around the farm, into animal paddocks, crop boxes and the educational polytunnel.
In normal times, the Educational Programme at Barleylands provides guided and self-guided learning activities for nearly 20,000 children a year from schools and groups across Essex and London. Karen Watson, the Education Officer at Barleylands says “The Education Programme has a dedicated team trained to deliver bespoke, curriculum linked visits which bring school topics to life, and at the same time gives us the opportunity as farmers to teach the next generation about food, farming and the countryside.”
Just before lockdown began, Barleylands Farm Park had welcomed a record number of visitors to their award-winning Education Programme when 17,000 children attended the farm for an educational visit in one school year.