A curriculum for food, farming and the countryside

In this study, Farming and Countryside Education carried out a survey, the aim of which was to invite individuals with a vested interest in food, farming and the countryside to describe their ideal ‘curriculum’ for schools – a ‘wishlist’ for the next generation.

Supposing that anything were possible (and a great deal is, given the breadth of subjects and teaching that takes place in our schools), we wanted to know what the farming and food production community believed were the critical knowledge, experiences and skills for each young person to acquire, given the need for:

  • Improved connectedness with nature
  • Consumers who can make informed choices
  • Greater empathy between the public and UK farming
  • Motivated and skilled entrants to careers in food and farming

It recognises that curriculum is a broad term, not necessarily applying to one or more National Curriculum specifications, but encompassing the totality of what children learn in their time at school.

Sitting in the nexus between agriculture and education, Farming and Countryside Education has led or participated in other research to identify such things as:

  • Children’s actual knowledge or experiences relating to food, farming and the countryside
  • Mapping curriculum frameworks (e.g. GCSE specifications) to food and farming
  • Identifying gaps in support for teachers and resources for teaching
  • Labour market, careers and talent supply and demand
  • Teachers’ awareness, motivation and ability, in respect of teaching about/through farming and the countryside

This study was part of an ongoing listening exercise, testing the temperature of the industry, and understanding the needs and desires of one of FACE’s key stakeholder groups. The findings of the research will be combined with insights and evidence from other research to inform our own work and the educational engagement of the wider farming industry. This will ensure that our work is relevant and of value to education, to farming and to society as a whole.

We asked respondents to identify themselves by occupation and the era in which they left school education. We then asked them to list separately the knowledge, experiences and skills which they would like young people to acquire, first at primary level education and then at secondary. We also asked them to tell us about exciting new developments in farming which they are keen to communicate as well as common misunderstandings, controversial issues and barriers to effective engagement with schools.

Click here to view the full report on the Stakeholder Survey carried out by Farming and Countryside Education in 2017 (Q1).