A Kent performing arts college with its own school farm was presented with a special award by an equally special visitor at the end of April.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Brockhill Park Performing Arts College to present the secondary school with LEAF Education’s highest accolade, the Gold Demonstration School award.

The award, presented by the charity LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), recognises the school’s commitment to using food production, farming and the environment as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

It makes Brockhill, described as a “beacon of excellence”, LEAF Education’s first ever Gold Demonstration School and follows the success of its GO (Great Outdoors) curriculum for students at Key Stage 3 (11 to 14).

Based around the school farm, the GO curriculum has now been extended to local primary schools and special schools, providing opportunities for pupils in the wider community to learn more about food and farming. 

As well as giving students first-hand experience of the farm-to-fork journey, the school has encouraged its student council to work with LEAF Education and the charity’s independent catering team on an ambitious project to raise awareness of sustainably sourced, local produce.

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh spoke to students while touring the school’s farm and learned about their desire to help create a sustainable food system that meets the nation’s current and future needs. She also saw the pride the students have in their livestock and the produce sold in the college’s farm shop.

 Charles Joseph, college principal, said: “It is vital that children learn about sustainability and food security.  They will then be able to make informed choices that will impact upon food, farming, and the environment.  Becoming a Gold Demonstration School inspires us to keep extending our provision and sharing our school farm and gardens with not only our students and community but beyond to a national and even international scale.”

Carl Edwards, LEAF director, education and public engagement, added: “We are incredibly proud to announce Brockhill Park Performing Arts College as our first Gold Demonstration school, focusing specifically on food production and farming education. 

“Our work with thousands of school children each year shows that providing young people with opportunities to learn about how their food is produced and where it comes from has many positive impacts. 

“Farming is relevant to every aspect of the curriculum. We want to celebrate schools that are leading the way in embedding farming into their teaching and support them in developing a whole school ethos.”