Making your farm visit a success

Preparing for your farm visit

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Good preparation will help you make the most of your visit and ensure everyone has an enjoyable day that meets all your objectives. These guidelines should help:

Choosing a farm

  • To find farms offering to host school visits use the search box below.
    You can also contact your Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) local coordinator for advice.
  • Visit the farm in advance of taking a school group. Some farms make this a condition of hosting your school, and others may arrange taster sessions for groups of teachers. Ask for an information pack, together with the farmers risk assessments for school visits, and a copy of their public liability insurance certificate.
  • Ask what the farm can provide in the way of activities, including some for wet weather.
  • Check the availability of hygiene facilities, covered areas for teaching, eating and leaving bags, outdoor seating areas.
  • Make sure there is adequate parking, and ideally some facilities for drivers.
  • Find out about any charges, and think about how you will cover your costs, including transport. Free educational trips and resources for schools suggests one approach.

Making plans

  • Set learning goals for the day, and make sure these are clear to everyone involved including the farm, the children and their parents. For ideas on curriculum links see Farm visits and the curriculum, Learning opportunities through food, farming and the countryside, Farm-linked activities for EYFS, KS1, KS2 and SEN, KS3 teaching and learning opportunities, KS4 teaching and learning opportunities.
  • Discuss your plans with your school's Educational Visits Coordinator, and consult relevant guidance such as your school and local authority policies on off-site activities. There is also government guidance on health and safety for schools. For farm-specific issues, look at Farm Safe.
  • Carry out the necessary risk assessments. Your school probably has a template you can use and may have existing assessments for some elements such as coach travel. The farmer's risk assessment should also help.
  • Look at travel arrangements and think about activities to pass the time on the journey, and how to deal with motion sickness.
  • Decide which other adults can help with the visit. If using parents or other volunteers follow your school policy on DBS (formerly CRB) checks. Your Educational Visits Coordinator or Outdoor Education Advisor (www.oeap.info) should be able to advise you on adult/child ratios.
  • Prepare a checklist of everything you will need to do in advance, and what you need to take on the day. You could use Teacher checklist for farm visits as a starting point.

Briefing children and parents

  • Prepare the children for their visit. Talk about where you are going and why, what they will do there and how the visit will link to their classroom learning. There are many ideas in the Resources section such as Dairy farm pre-visit activities.
  • Brief the children on the very different sights, sounds and smells on the farm, and how they should behave, especially around animals and in open spaces. Involving children in risk on farms and Interactive farm visit have ideas for engaging the children in this process.
  • Discuss hygiene with children and helpers, especially after animal contact. Refer to Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions. Public Health England also has useful resources on handwashing here. 
  • Send information and consent forms to parents. Explain the educational value of the visit, and specify in particular what the children will need to wear (eg wellies and wet-weather gear or sunhats and sunscreen) and bring with them (eg drinks and lunch)