Loan a Lamb initiative cultivates hands-on learning for thousands of school children across Sussex and Surrey

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Following great success in 2023, the South of England Agricultural Society‘s Education Committee is proud to announce that its Loan a Lamb scheme will return this year, reaching thousands of primary school children across Surrey and Sussex.

This year, 10 primary schools are participating, four of which will host the scheme from 18th to 22nd March. The remaining six schools will participate after the Easter break, from 22nd to 26th April.

A notable highlight is the inclusion of New Barn School, a specialist school for children with autism, marking its inaugural involvement in the scheme. The initiative will significantly impact the students‘ understanding of agriculture and its contribution to our lives. In addition to the Loan a Lamb scheme‘s educational benefits, the presence of the animals and their needs will also provide the opportunity for a different channel for communication for the children for the week.

The Loan a Lamb scheme, held in partnership with local farmers, with educational support from LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Education and financial support from the East Sussex Proficiency Test Committee and Yeowart Agricultural, involves school staff and students caring for a ewe and her lambs for a week. Providing hands-on experience with livestock and agriculture, the schools will be loaned a hutch and supplied with all the tools and information needed to care for the animals, made possible through the cooperation of five local sheep breeders.

A teacher briefing was held with representatives from participating schools, providing further information and training, including details on sheep care, biosecurity, and health and safety, and emergency procedures. Joanne Hatton from LEAF attended to answer questions and provide support, together with the farmers supplying the sheep, as well as teachers from last year’s programme, who shared their experience of the project.

“It is crucial to get children involved in agriculture at a young age,” said Alan Smith from the South of England Agricultural Society’s Education Committee and Trustee of the charity. “The Loan a Lamb scheme is an exciting and educational opportunity for students 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.”

Alan continued: “As a Society, we’re very proud to say that we have been running the scheme for three years now, and every year it’s lovely to see the schools and their children so invested in looking after the sheep. I genuinely believe it has such a positive impact not only on the children but also on our local communities.ˮ

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