Whirlow Hall Farm Trust is a 130 acre mixed upland farm on the edge of Sheffield near the Peak District National Park. It was set up in 1979 as an educational trust working with inner city children and young people with special needs or disabilities. Today it continues its educational work providing day and residential visits for over 10,000 children from schools and other groups each year. Although children come to Whirlow from all over the UK, there is a special focus on schools and children's groups in Sheffield LEA, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
As a fully operational working farm, Whirlow has 300 sheep, an intensive pig unit and some free range pigs, a poultry shed with hens, turkeys and ducks, several cows and horses and a small animal handling unit with ponies, goats, pet lambs, rabbits and guinea pigs. There are also several acres of pick-your-own soft fruit. For the residential and day visits, there are two converted farmhouses/barns which together can sleep 24 children and four adults, and three indoor and three outdoor classrooms.
The main focus for Whirlow’s day and residential visits is to enable children and young people to experience a real working farm and to explore the wider environment of woodland and open spaces. Time at the farm is structured into seeing and learning about the farm in the morning and carrying out activities associated with environmental options in the afternoon (see below).
Farm tour/jobs and where food comes from
Various environmental options
Farm tour with emphasis on life cycles (key stage 1), adaptation (key stage 2) or animal welfare issues (key stage 3)
Farm jobs e.g. feeding, grooming, collecting eggs
Science e.g. Minibeasts
Living history e.g. ‘Going to Market’
Geography e.g. ‘Exploring ecosystems’
Art e.g. ‘Naturally art’
Recyling/sustainability e.g. ‘Waste-free lunches’
Discovery e.g. ‘Earth walk’
In all activities, there is an emphasis on how people can influence the farming environment and our strong dependence on farms and where our food comes from.
Feedback from teachers after their visits suggests that it is the interaction with the animals that is particularly valued by pupils. Many of the children have had no exposure to animals and so a day at Whirlow can help to overcome fears and begin the process of them making links to where their food comes from. The very practical nature of the experience can also bring to life a whole range of curriculum topics such as life cycles, adaptation, animal welfare and so on. This can be beneficial not only to children but also to adults and teachers, who also get to see their pupils working in a very different context.
Whirlow Hall Farm Trust
T: (0114) 2360096