The Outdoor Learning Environment

Penrice Academy Opens a Brand New Farm

This spring, staff and students at Penrice Academy are excited to launch the Outdoor Learning Environment – also known as the Penrice Farm, a project that has been a year in the making.

The Outdoor Learning Environment offers students the opportunity to learn outside, gain agricultural skills and experience and develop their confidence and well-being in the fresh air, beyond the classroom.

Mrs Dorman, Outdoor Learning and Animal Care Teacher, said: “The Outdoor Learning Environment is all about developing our students’ knowledge of farming while also building their self-esteem and teamwork skills and encouraging them to take ownership and responsibility of the animals themselves.”

The Outdoor Learning Environment comprises one main barn, eight paddocks and a pond.

The farm is already home to two goats, two sheep, ten chickens, two ducks, two hamsters, four guinea pigs, a rabbit, two degus and a bearded dragon – with many more additions planned for the future. The two Golden Guernsey Goats and the two North Ronaldsay sheep are rare breeds. The staff at the Outdoor Learning Environment recognise the importance of promoting rare breeds and as a community we aim to continue to do so.

Mrs Dorman said: “Our chickens are also ‘showing stock’ chickens, so the students will gain experience in competing at County Show later in the year which they’re all really excited about!”

The course on offer is a BTEC Level 2 in Animal Care is a hands-on course containing a large element of theory. Modules include: Animal Health, Welfare, Housing and Accommodation together with Animal Handling. These modules cover the day to day duties of animal management including feeding, weighing and health checks, mucking out and grooming and health and safety in a farm environment. The students also learn about UK legislation in regards to protection and safeguarding of animals.

The course supports and helps to develop students social, emotional and physical skills through outdoor learning and could lead onto a Level 3 in Animal Care at college and beyond.

Mrs Dorman added: “Outdoor education in Cornwall is really important because of the environment we live in. Students can gain work experience through this course and pursue all kinds of animal-orientated careers. We’ve already heard our first Animal Carers talk about going into equine physiotherapy, veterinary practice and even police dog handling – all of which they speak so excitedly about!”

The team also run an after school BTEC option during Penrice Plus, the academy’s weekly extracurricular initiative.

Mr Cardigan, Assistant Principal at Penrice Academy, said the scope of learning potential within the new farm is ‘incredible’: “Over time we also hope to utilise cross-curricular links, from our young mathematicians weighing feeds and working out schedules to our biologists studying the anatomy and physiology of animals. Our geographers can look at habitats; like the way we must replicate our bearded dragon’s native home in the arid deserts of Australia. Our Art department even has plans to use the wool from our sheep in future projects.”

Mr Cardigan added: “Feedback from our students has already been overwhelmingly positive. It’s long been proven that our therapy dogs are working magic at Penrice and now we see our farm animals doing the same. Our students and the animals communicate with each other in the most extraordinary ways.”

Situated alongside Penrice’s Forest School, the area was transformed by a whole host of people including the school’s own Site Team and John Weatherhead of Posh Paddocks. A big thank you to our architect Nick Bailey and breeders William Merrell, who supplied the goats, and Roger Thomas, who supplied the chickens.

This year Penrice Academy also looks to work alongside Penmellyn Vets and Kernow Vets to help keep the animals healthy and local breeders who have supplied our animals will also give input into the course from a specialism point of view.

Mrs Dorman concluded: “This marks the beginning of a wonderful initiative at Penrice. There is no better time to nurture our students’ love for animals and their environment and we can’t wait to see what this year will bring.”

On Friday 1st March 2019 Penrice Academy welcomes George Eustice MP and Steve Double MP to officially open the Farm ready for the spring.