College launches 'virtual farm visits' for primary school pupils

Easton College lecturer William Haire filming cattle on a smartphone

Easton College lecturer William Haire introducing pupils from Queen’s Hill Primary School to some of the cattle on the college's farm via a video-link 'virtual visit' - Credit: Jade Lanham

Norfolk's agricultural college has begun hosting "virtual farm visits" to ensure primary school children don't lose countryside learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a normal year the farm at Easton College, outside Norwich, hosts between 50 and 100 visits from local primary schools, with each event tailored to the year group involved and to maximise links with the curriculum.

Younger ages are taught about where their food comes from, the changing seasons and animal welfare, while the work with older pupils can be more focused, such as science and maths days - but in all cases they help develop awareness of the jobs and opportunities in land-based careers. 

With physical visits restricted by Covid-19 rules the college has introduced virtual visits instead, with the first seeing agriculture lecturer William Haire and skills tutor Jade Lanham, along with four agriculture students, broadcasting live via video link to Year One pupils from Queen’s Hill Primary School in Costessey.

The youngsters were introduced to some of the cattle at the farm and talked through the cows' changing requirements throughout the different seasons.

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Mr Haire said: “It was great to be able to virtually take the college farm to the Year Ones at Queen’s Hill Primary School.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have a farm for teaching the food producers of the future, and the opportunity for our students to broaden their skills or develop new ones is vital for their success in our industry.  

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“We really enjoyed talking about what is happening on Easton College farm and responding to some very well thought-out questions form our audience who are now looking forward to joining us virtually for a lambing update next month.”

Cattle at Easton College being filmed for a virtual school tour

Easton College lecturer William Haire and some students introducing pupils from Queen’s Hill Primary School to some of the cattle on the college's farm via a video-link 'virtual visit' - Credit: Jade Lanham

Mr Haire said the benefits of the visits are two-way, bringing new learning opportunities for Easton College’s students too.

With more farmers welcoming visitors onto their farms as part of diversification strategies into leisure, tourism and retail, he said it is an increasingly important requirement that agriculture students feel confident and comfortable in dealing with members of the public.

  • Schools interested in a virtual visit with the Easton College farm should contact school outreach coordinator Claire Pigg on   

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