As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family.– Pope Francis
We are blessed to have an amazing Farm on site, created by the school community and funded by the PTA.
As well as teaching children: about their role as Stewards of Creation; responsibility and how to take care of others; about their natural environment and practical life-skills, research has shown that animals in educational settings can have an indirect effect on improving learning. The relationship between humans and animals has been shown to directly affect motivation, engagement, self-regulation, and human social interaction. All our children benefit from using the Farm, but it is particularly beneficial to younger, developing children and those with Special Educational Needs. Spending time with the animals reduces stress and anxiety, improves social interactions and enhances motivation, engagement, and learning.
The Farm is a daily part of life at St Catherine’s. Each class has a dedicated day on a two-weekly rota, where they let out and put away, feed, clean out, groom and look after our animals. The kids absolutely love it when it is their ‘turn on the Farm’! It is also used as part of our cross-curricular, practical, skills-based learning-approach. Why calculate area and perimeter in a classroom, when you could do it in the Farm? Why solve made-up maths problems, when you could calculate the amount and cost of food for the chickens? Why write instructions for how to make a cheese sandwich, when you could write instructions on how to care for our guinea pigs? It’s all about real-life learning!
We take responsibility seriously at St Catherine’s. The adults don’t run the Farm, that is the job of our pupils, especially our ‘Farm Rangers’.
As part of our Mission to enable children to ‘Be who God created them to be’, we encourage children to find and explore their own talents. Our Farm Rangers are KS2 pupils who have formerly applied, been interviewed and selected to oversee our Farm. These Farm Rangers than undertake Farm Training and supervise the work carried out by all the other pupils.
It has been amazing to see these pupils flourish outside the classroom. They are chosen for their practicality, maturity, willingness to get stuck in and dedication to learning about and caring for our animals. I have been astonished by the animal husbandry displayed by the Farm Rangers, as they go beyond the knowledge of the staff – even down to correctly ‘sexing’ our chickens, ducks, rabbits and guinea pigs!
The Farm is constantly expanding. Our current livestock includes the following:
Our ‘Farm Squad’ are a dedicated group of families who devote an incredible amount of time and energy to looking after the Farm and our animals. They visit the schools ite twice a day during weekends and holidays, feeding, grooming and cleaning out after the animals. Our Farm would not exist without the commitment of these unsung heroes of St Catherine’s!
In 2014, the Farm was nothing but a piece of scrub-land, unloved and unutilised. Thanks to a bit of vision and lots of hard-work and free-labour from members of the school community, the space has been transformed. It is testament to how committed our families are that the project was completed thanks almost solely to PTA fundraising and community goodwill!