Farmland fun teaching children new skills

010219  Pupils at New Park Primary Academy school in Harrogate with their  three pygmy goats they have at the school.  For Education page.
010219 Pupils at New Park Primary Academy school in Harrogate with their three pygmy goats they have at the school. For Education page.
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A community farm has been created at a primary school in North Yorkshire, complete with chickens and goats and the promise of a vegetable garden to come.

Robert Mold, head teacher at New Park Primary Academy on Skipton Road, Harrogate, is a believer in the benefits of an outdoor education.

With the addition of the animals, which joined late last year, he said there is much the children can learn.

“We’re really fortunate in that we have just over an acre of field, just up the road,” he said. “It’s not being used to its full potential.

“We are surrounded by good farmland, but the children here know little about that heritage.

“It’s really important for me to bring that into school. What a good way, to make a community farm.”

In the spring time, the students will start planting, putting in vegetable beds to create their own gardens. This is open to the school’s neighbours and parents as well, said Mr Mold, with the intention of creating a community farm.

There are lengthy waiting lists for allotments in the area, he said, of three or four years, while this is a space that is waiting to be used.

And the educational benefits for the children are immense, he adds.

“It’s teaching children about the land, about farming and growing, and how to feed a family. These are wonderful life skills, which are dying out.”

The school has 16 chickens as well as three pygmy goats. The hens are all rescues, opening up debate about animal welfare, pricing and profits.

Every day, a different year group is in charge of the jobs list, while parent volunteers step in at weekends in exchange for free eggs.

“It teaches the children about responsibility, which is really important,” adds Mr Mold. “It feeds into the curriculum as well, with some students bringing the chickens to our science fair at Christmas, though we did draw the line at including the goats.”