The South of England Agricultural Society‘s Education Committee is proud to announce that their Loan a Lamb scheme will reach nearly 4,000 school children across Sussex and Surrey this year, significantly impacting students’ understanding of agriculture and its contribution to our lives.
Five primary schools have participated so far: Milton Mount Primary School in Crawley, The Mill Primary Academy in Crawley, St Lawrence Primary School in Hurstpierpoint, Plumpton Primary School, and Herons Dale School in Shoreham – a primary school for children with a wide range of learning difficulties. In addition, six other schools, including a specialist school for children with autism, will participate after Easter, from 24th to 28th April.
The Loan a Lamb scheme – held in partnership with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) education, and financially supported by the East Sussex Proficiency Test Committee, involves school staff and children caring for a ewe and her lamb for a week, providing hands-on experience with livestock and agriculture. The schools were loaned a hutch and supplied with all the tools and information needed to care for the animals, made possible through the cooperation of five local sheep farmers.
“It is crucial to get children involved in agriculture at a young age,” said Alan Smith from the South of England Agricultural Society’s Education Committee and Trustee of the charity. “The Loan a Lamb scheme is an exciting and educational opportunity for school children in Surrey and Sussex. It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the importance of farming in producing our food and other products we use in day-to-day life. We are proud of this initiative and to be making a positive impact within our local communities.”
A teacher briefing was held with representatives from all eleven participating schools to provide further information and training, including details on sheep care, biosecurity and health and safety, and emergency procedures. Joanne Hatton from LEAF also attended to answer any questions and provide support, together with the farmers supplying the sheep, as well as teachers from last year’s programme to share their experience of the project.
Yvonne Swinson, a teacher at Milton Mount Primary, one of the schools that participated, said: “The Loan a Lamb initiative was a wonderful opportunity for everyone at our school. Many of our children live in flats and don’t have gardens, and lots of them don’t have pets, so they’ve never had the responsibility of getting up, coming out and feeding an animal. They absolutely loved it! We also built the project into almost every aspect of what we were doing in class, from learning about the life cycle of sheep, poetry writing and problem-solving in maths to the chance to wear a woollen jumper, hat or scarf for our ‘wear wool Friday’ event. Children even practised their shepherding skills in PE. This is something we would love to be involved in again, and we are grateful to Loan a Lamb and to our farmer Anne.”
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