NFU Education: how we're getting food and farming into the classroom

Published 09 November 2021

Back British Farming NFU Education

Children get hands on to learn how British farmers and growers produce the food they eat

Not enough children understand where their food comes from and how it is produced. Here at the NFU it is our mission to change that. Working with our members and teachers at schools across the country we want to give children all the tools they need to learn how British farmers and growers are producing the raw ingredients that are turned into delicious meals on their plates. 

And the best way to accomplish this mission is to put agriculture at the heart of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in schools.  

We provide award-winning STEM resources free of charge to ease the burden on teachers and address the lack of understanding of where food comes from among children. 

As part of the Back British Farming campaign this is a priority for the NFU all year round, but during May and June 2021 we stepped up our efforts as schools were playing catch up after numerous lockdowns.  

Here’s a snapshot of some of the things we have been working on:  

Farming STEMterprise 

  • A range of free, engaging projects for children ages 4 – 11.   
  • Children are challenged with setting up a farm shop business: growing their own ingredients, using market research to test their ideas out with potential consumers, calculating expected profit, and much more. 
  • They are taken through each stage with practical Science, Maths and Design & Technology lessons. 
  • This resource was shortlisted for the BETT 2020 awards, ERA 2020 Awards and was the winner of the Teach Primary ‘Best STEM resource 2020’

Farmvention (when farming meets invention): 

  • A national competition for children ages 5 – 14, where children are given problems to solve based on the day-to-day issues faced by farmers and growers in England and Wales.  
  • They can win a range of prizes, including a farm visit for their class and the opportunity to present their ideas at the House of Commons.
    Farmers for Schools:  
  • NFU trained farmers deliver an interactive assembly or group discussion on modern farming at secondary schools, challenging misconceptions and preconceptions the students may have about agriculture in the UK.  

Live Lessons:  

  • A series of live lessons called ‘Science Farm LIVE!’ were created during British Science Week 2021, aimed at children ages 4 – 11.  
  • They were filmed live on location and teach their curriculum content such as life cycles and adaptations, alongside showcasing awe inspiring moments that happen on farms, such as lambs being born and chicks hatching.  
  • The live lessons have reached almost 300,000 children and over 1,500 schools so far, with work continuing.  

Levelling Up 

We’re working with several organisations to gain additional funding from the government. We’re campaigning for STEM Learning through Agriculture to be part of the Prime Minister’s Levelling Up strategy. 

Here’s a summary of what we have been working on:  

  • We published a report on ‘Inspiring STEM Learning through Agriculture’ which showed the value of using agriculture as a context for teaching Science and Maths. This can go further to help fill the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths skills gap in the UK. 
  • A range of organisations pledged their support at our roundtable led by our President Minette Batters on ‘How can agriculture plug the STEM skills gap?’ This includes support from Robbie Moore MP (Keighley and Ilkley, West Yorkshire). 
  • We have also gained support from Education Select Committee members David Johnston MP (Wantage, Oxfordshire) and Caroline Johnson MP (Sleaford and North Hykeham, Lincolnshire), and BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Select Committee member Nusrat Ghani MP (Wealden, East Sussex).  
  • David Johnston MP tabled a question to the Secretary of State for Education, asking what assessment his department has made of the potential merits of including agriculture in the national curriculum. 
  • More round tables are planned, where we will agree a plan of action on how to further promote agriculture as a valuable tool for Science and Maths education.  

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