Countryside Classroom - Connecting schools with food, farming and the natural environment

Growing Schools has been re-launched as Countryside Classroom, the largest ever partnership of organisations who are committed to helping children learn about food, farming and/or the natural environment.

It is the vision of Countryside Classroom that schools and teachers across the UK will embrace food, farming and the natural environment as essential components of a broad and balanced curriculum, incorporating them into day-to-day learning. As a result of this, every child will have the opportunity to learn about and experience these topics in diverse ways that are increasingly supported by experiences outside the classroom.

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Making the Case

All schools can benefit from using the living environment as a school resource. Here are five key arguments to help you make your case.

1. The benefits will be widespread. Whatever level of activity your school can accommodate – from creating a small growing area to running a school farm, or from hunting mini-beasts in the playground to taking a field trip to a nature reserve – everyone will gain:

  • young people will get the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways – in particular these can benefit those who find classroom learning difficult
  • teachers will be able to broaden and deepen their teaching skills and subject knowledge while working with more motivated pupils
  • the school can use these new approaches to raise achievement
  • the wider community can benefit through involvement in, for example, developing school gardens of all kinds, leading to a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment.

 

2. It’s an ideal way to transmit some key messages. Using the living environment for learning, both within the school grounds and through visits further afield, will have a positive impact on young people’s understanding of some crucial issues including:

  • where food comes from and the role of farmers and growers
  • what constitutes healthy eating and why it matters
  • the interdependence of the urban and rural environments
  • how and why we should care for the natural world
  • the need for more sustainable development
  • the value of skills in plant cultivation and animal husbandry

 

3. Growing Schools provides the framework, support and resources to help deliver many other themes, in particular:

4. All curriculum subjects can be approached through the study of growing plants and animals. It’s not a new topic to cram into an overful school day, but an effective and exciting way of teaching. There are thousands of ideas in Places to visit and Teaching Resources, and a few suggestions are summarised in the curriculum diagram found here.

 

5. We’ve got the research to prove it. An increasing body of research supports the value of learning in the living environment. Here are a number of key papers if you want to delve deeper: