Almost 4,000 school children across Surrey and Sussex will benefit from the South of England Agricultural Society’s Loan a Lamb scheme this year. The aim of the programme is to increase children’s understanding of agriculture and its contribution to life in the UK.
The Loan a Lamb scheme is run in partnership with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) education, and is financially supported by the East Sussex Proficiency Test Committee. The programme involves school staff and students caring for a ewe and her lamb for a week, providing hands-on experience with livestock and agriculture. The participating schools were loaned a hutch and supplied with all the tools and information needed to care for the animals which was made possible through the cooperation of local sheep farmers.
Alan Smith from the South of England Agricultural Society’s Education Committee and trustee of the charity said: “It is crucial to get children involved in agriculture at a young age. The Loan a Lamb scheme is an exciting and educational opportunity for school children in Surrey and Sussex. It provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the importance of farming in producing our food and other products we use in day-to-day life. We are proud of this initiative and to be making a positive impact within our local communities.”
‘A wonderful opportunity’
Prior to the sheep arriving at the school, representatives from participating schools attended a briefing to provide further information and training, including details on sheep care, biosecurity and health and safety, and emergency procedures. Joanne Hatton from LEAF also attended to answer any questions and provide support, together with the farmers supplying the sheep. Teachers from last year’s programme also came along to share their experience of the project.
Yvonne Swinson, a teacher at Milton Mount Primary, one of the participating schools, said: “The Loan a Lamb initiative was a wonderful opportunity for everyone at our school. Many of our children live in flats and don’t have gardens, and lots of them don’t have pets, so they’ve never had the responsibility of getting up, coming out and feeding an animal. They absolutely loved it! We also built the project into almost every aspect of what we were doing in class, from learning about the life cycle of sheep, poetry writing and problem-solving in maths to the chance to wear a woollen jumper, hat or scarf for our ‘wear wool Friday’ event. Children even practised their shepherding skills in PE. This is something we would love to be involved in again, and we are grateful to Loan a Lamb and to our farmer Anne.”