The Farm at Abbotsholme

  Lambing 2015 1

Abbotsholme School is one of the very few schools in the country to have a working farm. Pupils of all ages experience working on the farm. Integrating the farm and estate into pupils’ daily lives helps us to deliver our vision of providing a genuinely broad education. Abbotsholme Farm is far more than buildings, land, machinery and animals; it is a living library where lessons for life are learnt.

The farm is an important learning resource, linking food production to environmentally responsible farming, which is a predominant aspect of modern agriculture in the 21st century. The farm is located on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border; the farmland consists of rolling countryside leading down to the floodplain of the river Dove. The farmland extends to approximately 74 acres. 66 acres are devoted to permanent pasture, which is managed extensively, with low inputs of organic manure. Of this, 20 acres are harvested for winter fodder and the remainder is grazed by 20 store cattle, 40 ewes with 75 lambs and 18 horses.

The farmland also contains eight acres of woodland, consisting of established, semi-natural woodland in the dingles and a relatively new plantation on the eastern edge of the farm. Hedgerows form an important area for wildlife habitats and food for birds, insects and mammals.

Commercial beef calves are purchased every May and stay on the farm until they are about 18 months old, when they are sold to be fattened for beef. The sheep flock consists of 20 pedigree Vendéen ewes and 20 crossbreds. The lambs are fattened for meat. They are weighed by pupils, to compare growth rates between pedigree and crossbreds. There are also piglets, chickens, pygmy goats and a miniature Shetland pony on the farm.

All pupils from the Juniors to Year 9 have periods on their timetable allocated to farm activities, in a rotation system. For older pupils, the Agriculture Department offers two courses which make extensive use of the farm. GCSE Environmental and Land Based Science involves the study of environmental science, agriculture and horticulture. In Sixth Form a BTEC Level 3 course in agriculture is offered, which is a vocational course preparing pupils for either college or university entrance or direct entry to work. Pupils work on the farm and most of the assignments are case study based.

Some pupil volunteers rise early to be on the farm at 7.45 a.m., assisting with daily animal husbandry (feeding, watering, cleaning out and health checks) before joining the rest of the pupils for chapel and academic lessons.

Lambing duty at the end of February/beginning of March is always very popular option, as pupils want to be involved with bringing new life into the world. This includes being on call overnight, to be on hand to assist with deliveries and look after the newborn lambs.

Pupils aspiring to become vets can spend as much time on the farm as they can fit into their timetable. They are taught how to handle livestock, perform some minor veterinary tasks and assist in lambing of the ewes.

Farm activities contribute towards the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Pupils will work on a range of tasks to support the school farm, including animal husbandry, planting hedges and routine repair and maintenance work around the school farm.

Besides all the work and learning that goes on there, the farm also makes a great contribution to the aesthetic atmosphere of the school. The beautiful trees, the green fields and the grazing animals definitely help to create a peaceful rural atmosphere in which the rest of pupils’ learning and growth can flourish.

12.06.17

Year 3 & 4 at the Farm

Farmer Tom invited us to the farm to see the sheep being sheared. He explained how the sheep were given a health check and were immobilised by keeping their head and body between the farmer’s legs to prevent it moving. They shear the sheep a...

15.03.17

Reception, Year 1&2 on the Farm

Reception, Year 1&2 had a wonderful afternoon bottle feeding some of the lambs. Farmer Tom helped to steady them as they were a little wriggly. The children did a superb job. Some young farmers in the making.

31.01.17

National Sheep Association Regional Winter Gathering

A group of Year 9, 10, 12 & 13 students went with Mr Bridge to the National Sheep Association Regional Winter Gathering to compete in the Regional Schools Shepherding Competition on 26 January. They were competing against several schools from...

22.11.16

Staffordshire Winter Fair

The following pupils should be congratulated for their amazing ambassadorial efforts. Millie Coleman, Caitlyn Brown, Solomon Brookes, Ben Roberts, Jasmine Yeomans, Ben Broughton, Phoebe Broughton, Shannon Watmough, Harriet Beaton, Honor Halket...

18.10.16

Young Farmers Annual Dinner

The Young Farmers Annual Dinner, which took place on Tuesday evening was a brilliant evening. We had a lovely three course meal and there was a fantastic speech by Frank Hammond the County President of Staffordshire Young Farmers. Toby pres...

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