Working with Keele University

A strong partnership has been built between LEAF Education's predecessor FACE, the Keele and North Staffordshire Primary SCITT(School Centred Initial Teacher Training) based at Keele University and member Dorrington Hall Farm. This group has worked together on a number of courses for trainee teachers.

The visits from Keele trainee teachers to Dorrington Hall Farm at the start of each academic year provide opportunities for students to

  • recognise the value of outdoor education
  • become aware of how a focus on food and farming provides a rich context for learning
  • develop individual subject knowledge and identify possible misconceptions
  • model teaching practices to be incorporated into the trainee’s own teaching
  • develop teaching knowledge through subsequent study activities

Typically, over 70 postgraduate students visit farmers Jane and Steve Ellsmoor and find out what a farm visit can offer in terms of learning. The Ellsmoors have welcomed groups of schoolchildren to the farm for many years and they are very experienced at sharing and explaining  the working farm environment. Input from the Regional Education Consultant helps the students to understand how to use the farm as a context for literacy and numeracy both in and out of school and where to find resources and places to visit to support food and farming in the curriculum.

The students follow a literacy trail based on the children’s book “What the Ladybird Heard” and also develop a maths trail in the farmyard. There are opportunities to tackle an outdoor learning challenge which might involve using natural materials to make paint or venturing into the woodland to build dens – all experiences they can provide to their future pupils.

The learning is extended back at Keele University as students now feel confident to create their own session plans based on a farm visit.

Out of 75 visiting in 2016, 100% felt confident or very confident at the end of the session to teach about food and farming resources within their lessons.  100% felt that they would incorporate food and farming into their Curriculum in the future.

We are always looking for new ways to engage initial teacher trainees and welcome ideas from teaching schools, training institutions and anyone involved in educating those involved in teaching future generations of children.