The Warriner School Farm is a mixed 120 acre farm based at an 11-16 secondary school in Bloxham, north Oxfordshire. It has a range of livestock including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and horses, all of which are reared on organic grassland. The farm also has an area of conventional arable land, four ancient ridge and furrow fields, a planted woodland and a collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
The farm describes itself as ‘a purpose-built educational resource providing practical, relevant and realistic experience of farming, the rural environment and land use to our own students and those from other schools’. There are two classrooms attached to the farm and the farm opens before and after school for students to visit.
The educational activities of Warriner School Farm are many and varied, spanning a number of different purposes and needs. These include:
• academic – Year 7 students at The Warriner spend one hour on the farm every two weeks doing practical and classroom-based work linked to food production
• vocational – 40 Year 10 and 11 students from north Oxfordshire schools come to the farm one day a week over two years as part of their NVQ level 1 Agriculture
• therapeutic – the farm has also developed several modules on a ‘Skills for Working Life’ course geared towards Year 9, 10 and 11 students with low self-esteem
• enrichment – visits from primary school and pre-school children provide opportunities for practical activities with the animals and art and craft work.
An underlying aim for all of these types of provision is for young people to have enough first-hand experience to be able to make up their own minds on sustainable food and farming issues. For John Hirons, the Farm Manager and teacher, this is about ‘equipping children to make decisions based on scientific judgment and not journalistic soundbites’.
Staff at the Warriner School Farm see value in the way the farm combines educational provision with vocational experience. It is not only a farm that has been specifically set up to enable people to see and understand what is happening, it is also a real functioning workplace environment. The opportunity to experience farming operations and work in close proximity to animals can help students ‘to understand the processes behind food products such as milk that they take for granted’. Other more subtle benefits have been seen to stem from children interacting with the animals: ‘caring for animals can be very helpful for damaged children’.
The Warriner School Farm also runs courses for teachers on how to use farms for teaching and learning in order to build competence and confidence in relation to out-of-classroom education.
The Warriner School Farm
The Warriner School
T: 01295 720777