Catch­ing teach­ers in the bud

Several years ago, whilst talking to other farmers about engaging with schools, Rowan of Burns Pet Nutrition Ltd realised that a key obstacle to promoting the benefits of countryside education could well be the teachers themselves. People who have never been on a farm or in the countryside could easily find the idea of taking a class of young children into this setting too intimidating. A genuine fear of looking foolish or taking responsibility for children in a foreign environment may prevent them making use of the amazing resources available.

As a step towards removing this barrier Burns in the Community, the charitable arm of the company, recently welcomed a group of PGCE students from University of Wales Trinity St David to Burns Pet Nutrition’s farm and Parc y Bocs Farm Shop at Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire. The students enjoyed a full day of hands-on experiences including meeting livestock and role-playing activities. Jane Powell of FACE Cymru joined us for the day as did some of the Burns by Your Side reading dogs. Plenty of opportunities for discussion and inquisition were provided and the initial feedback was all positive. This same group will soon return to the farm shop, bringing with them a local reception class so they can put what they learned into action.

We hope to make this an annual event for student teachers and would strongly encourage other farms to consider trying this initiative for themselves. From a farm point of view, not only is it much less intimidating to plan and run an event for interested adults, it also creates much larger ripples in the pond of education. We calculated that, if each of the 15 students remained in teaching for 10 years and took one class of 30 children on an outdoor visit per year as a result of their experiences, just one day of our time could positively impact on 4500 children.

Rowan Flindall-Shayle Farm Secretary at Burns Pet Nutrition