Farm & Estate

In addition to ensuring that students achieve their potential in core academic subjects, the school puts a great emphasis on extra-curricular activities and on a rounded education. A key part of this is the school farm, 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 80 acres, devoted to permanent pasture, which is managed extensively, with low inputs of farm yard manure. The school has a registered, pedigree, suckler herd of British White Cattle, with a bull, up to 8 breeding cows, plus followers. We also have a herd of store cattle that are run by the students. A registered, pedigree flock of Hampshire Down Sheep, is being develop, there is also a mixed flock of 40 ewes. Both the British Whites and sheep are regularly shown at agricultural shows across the midlands and northern England.

Sixth form students can take the Farming and Countryside Education course, this course will combine farming with land based management and is offered as a Level 2 BTECs (GCSEs) and Level 3 BTECs (A-Levels), depending on previous level of study. At Level 2, students learn about livestock production, animal husbandry and will look at estate maintenance, and conservation. The Level 3 course teaches students more about the business element of estate management. The students have their own projects, such as rearing calves and then identifying the most advantageous business point to sell these animals at market. At the higher stage, students look at the biology of farming and how production has developed through adaptations. All of the courses offered, heavily encourage the students to explore the adoption of technology in land based enterprises. Students are encouraged to use apps on their iPads to improve the management of the estate. The students will work with industry experts, helping to carry out pregnancy scanning of breeding cattle or learning how software is used to complete the legal paperwork that forms a key part of modern farming.

Sixth Form students will be expected to play a major role in running the schools lambing and get involved in calving as required. Students will learn to drive tractors and/or complete certificates of competency in using agricultural machinery. A typical week would see an A-Level student spend 2 or 3 hours in the classroom and 3 or 4 hours outside. Student are expected to spend another 1 or 2 hours a week getting involved in farm work during their free time. The course is assessed through a portfolio of assignments and through a diary. This records what, when and why the students carried out tasks on the farm.