I have seen the difference that the Country Classrooms experiences have made, to our pupils and staff, on several occasions this year and they have had a lasting effect. The three different experiences have inspired, motivated and given pupils confidence through learning precious life skills. Pupils of any age or learning ability, even children with learning difficulties, are able to access the experience at their level and learn from them. The fully planted mobile allotment that arrived in September has seen pupils pick, eat and harvest their own plants. Seeds and bulbs were collected and saved throughougt the year so FS to Year 6 could cover the plant section of the new 2014 science curriculum. This planter has enthused teachers/pupils and provided a planting experience throughout school with a fully equipped potting shed area now in use germinating seeds and growing plants. Also the local community and third party organisations have become involved by donating plants, seeds and their time to support the growing areas. Accelerated learning has been achieved from pupils taking their learning home, teaching their parents, finding our more about gardening skills and bringing information into school to share. One parent explained that she was at home gardening when her six year old son said "Mum, you don't just put the plant in the ground, you have to water the hole and tickle its roots before planting." She was very impressed with her son's gardening knowledge which Country Classrooms had provided. As our school is in an urban area the farm experience was a wow for many pupils, staff and parents as they touched, feed and cared for the calves, sheep, lambs, hens and ducks. One member of staff was reduced to tears as she saw the difference it made to the pupil she cares for. The farm experience came twice, first for Nursery, Foundation Stage and KS1 pupils and then again later in the year for the KS2 pupils. Shy pupils were asking the farmers questions whilst they held a duck. Pupils were bringing their parents at the end of the day to see the animals and talking to them about what they had learnt. For pupils with challenging behaviour the Hatching Experience saw an amazing change, a calming effect, as they took on the responsibility of caring for a life. They not only ensured the chicks had all they needed but planned 'The Chicks on Tour; timetable so every class in school cared for and experienced the chicks. The high achievers were challenged with new learning as they researched and then shared their findings with their peers. One boy went to where his dad works to find our about candling eggs, created a display and shared it with his class. Amazing learning. The pupils still talk about when the chicks came to school. Country Classrooms experiences link learning to real life giving pupils ownership and responsibility of their actions. These physical hands on experiences also engage pupils in a special way that forms lasting and life long memories with the overall impact equipping them with life skills to share with others. Every pupil in our care is different and we aspire to deliver teaching and learning experiences that impact on their lives and I have seen this through the Country Classroom experiences. With plans before, during and after the experience, resources and experts available these are not just one off visit days but outstanding teaching and learning experiences that encompass the whole curriculum. The Country Classrooms experiences create impact and leave a legacy. Many travelling visitors to schools come and generate wonderful and memorable experiences in schools. Country Classrooms do this in 'spades' full (apologies for the pun), and examples of the fantastic impact are within this report. However, Country Classrooms goes that important stages further in that they leave a legacy behind in the schools they visit. These come not only in the form of resources (such as planters, plants, etc.) but also as activities and ideas to further develop the experiences with well planned and resourced follow up lessons. The experiences also provide pupils and staff with new skills and knowledge that they will subsequently be able to apply across the curriculum.
The hatching experiences provided great excitement in school for the two weeks we were responsible for the eggs which hatched in our classrooms to produce eight fluffy chicks. Class groups took turns to feed and care for the chicks in their own classrooms following the hatching, which was filmed in real time 24/7 then converted to quick time by Mr Birtles. Pupils could not wait to return to the school each morning to check on the progress of the chicks. The senior students worked alongside and supported the younger pupils with the care of the chicks, which was fabulous to observe. We improved our learning using the wide range of quality resources provided and children had lots of questions and observations for Paul and Suzanne. The mobile farm proved to be a magical experience for our pupils, the calf, who was just four days old was a favourite. Pupils investigated items made from sheep's wool, they held a just laid duck egg (then made delicious egg custards with Miss Rowe) held and stroked a hen, feeling silky feathers and listened to the clucking sounds. A differentiated range of motivating activities is provided to support the learning, prior to the sessions, during the day and following the opportunities, for all our pupils. The mobile allotment system has proved to be very popular, we have six planters in which we have a selection of herbs, vegetables, strawberries, wild flowers and salad stuff. There was great excitement as the planters were delivered and positioned by a remote control truck operated by Mr Brough. Suzanne spent the day working with us to recognise a wide variety of produce and introduced us to planting seeds and bulbs, we explored herbs and made signs to use in the planters. Students now harvest foods they had planted and nurtured from seeds and bulbs, taking delight in preparing salads to accompany the sandwiches created within our enterprise and life skills sessions. However, we never seem to have enough strawberries for the strawberry cheesecake in a jar recipe (our latest business idea) - I wonder why?!