Visiting a farm made easy!

1. Why visit a farm?
2. Where can I go?
3. What can I achieve by taking my class out?
4. What about the problems, e coli, health and safety, salmonella ......
5. What about the cost?
6. When is the best time to go?
7. Before we go..........a checklist
8. Where else can I get some information?

1. Why visit a farm?

Because it is relevant to all our lives, it is stimulating and it is FUN! See number 3 below.

2. Where can I go?

There is a whole range of farms across the country that you can take your class out to.

Just go to the directory on this site and you will find a comprehensive list of FFS members. Farms are listed by name and by area.

3. What can I achieve?

Taking children out to a farm is not a mere jolly. There is so much of the National Curriculum that can be met, either during the visit itself or through follow up work after the visit has taken place.

Here are a few ways in which you can justify your visit through the National Curriculum. There are also some suggested topics and how to deliver them outside - this is not meant to be comprehensive - just a few ideas.


English 1 speaking and listening:
describing events and experiences, speaking and listening to different people/adults, group discussion and interaction.

English 2 reading:
using non fiction and non literary texts.

English 3 writing:
communicating to others, organising and explaining information.

Literacy Hour:

- recounting of events, activities and visits.

- persuasive writing, argue a point of view, write letters to persuade, protest, support or criticise.

- make observational records, explanations and use of instructional texts.

- biography, diary, journal, anecdotes and journalistic writing.

- interview people in their workplace.

- write a diary called "A day in the life of Farmer Giles" and "A day in the life of Daisy the cow".

- present an argument for organic farming.

- write a letter of thanks following a visit.



Maths 2 number:

using and applying numbers, calculations, mental and written maths, use of calculators, money calculations, problem solving and estimation of answers.

Maths 4 handling data:

- estimate the number of bales in a barn.

- calculate how much milk a cow produces and how much that is worth to the farmer.

- compare prices - wholesale and retail.

- set up a farm shop.

- compare food prices - discount, branded products and organic range.

- calculate how much land is needed to grow enough wheat to make a loaf of bread.

- estimate animal weights and compare growth rates.

- cost out a vegetable patch or a herb garden - start a new enterprise!

- set up a weather station, monitor the weather.

- record data when bug hunting.



Science 2 life, processes and living things:

- how animals move, feed, grow, use their senses and reproduce.

- relate life processes to animals and plants found in the local environment.

- how to treat animals with care and sensitivity.

- what green plants need to grow, recognise parts of plants and their functions and that seeds grow into flowering plants.

- variation and classification, group living things according to observable similarities and differences.

- make and use keys.

- identify and group locally occurring plants and animals.

- adaptation.

- food chains.

Science 3 materials and their properties:
recognise and name common types of materials and why they are chosen for their jobs.

Science 4 forces and motion:
pushes and pulls.

Breadth of study:

Science should be taught through:

- a range of domestic and environmental contexts.

- looking at the part science has played in the development of many useful things.

- using first hand and secondary data to carry out a range of scientific investigations.

- identifying national and local breeds of farm animals.

- identifying national and local agricultural and horticultural crops.

- identifying national a local trees and hedgerow plants.

- what do crops, trees and animals need to live and grow?

- measuring growth rates (see maths).

- monitoring pollution in a stream and using indicator species.

- bug hunting and pond dipping - classification in action.

- buildings, ancient and modern, their materials and their uses.

- farm machinery, identifying tasks, design for purpose - pushing/pulling and driving.



Breadth of study:

Study of 2 localities and 3 themes:

- locality in the UK.

- water, including the physical features of a river.

- how settlements differ and change.

- changing environments and sustainable management.

Pupils should:

- study at a range of scales.

- study a range of places.

- carry out field work investigations.

-map use and orienteering.

- environmental change - a Farm Case Study:

- management in the past - a time line.

- management in the present - fill in a farm map - land use.

- management in the future - convert the farm to GM or organic

River study/survey

Recycling on the farm - water/manure

4. What about the problems?

The Health and Safety Executive has produced guidelines for taking school children out into the countryside and onto farms.

Acrobat Reader is required to view some of these documents - to download the latest version please click here

Preventing or controlling ill health from animal contact at visitor attractions - Industry Code of Practice Launched 25th June 2012 and replaces the HSE guidance AIS 23

Every year millions of people visit premises where members of the public, particularly children, are encouraged to view or touch animals. The purpose of this Code of Practice is to help ensure visitor health and safety by providing sensible, practical and proportionate guidance on preventing or controlling ill health at visitor attractions. This Code of Practice has been produced by the industry and is aimed at the owners, operators and managers of such visitor premises. It provides guidance, including pictures and real-life case studies, of practical measures that you can apply at your premises to help you comply with the law and keep visitors safe. The examples are from businesses, ranging from conventional farms that open to the public for one day a year to attractions that may cater for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Download the Code of Practice Summary (177kb) here

Download the Code of Practice (2 mb) here

Download an extract from the Code of Practice - Advice to Teachers (116kb) here

Controlling Infection on Farms

A new set of materials on infection control on farms has been developed in response to the recommendations of the Griffin Report into the recent outbreak of E.coli 1057. These include information sheets and children's activities to highlight important topics such as handwashing. To download documents please click here

Please click here to download the generic
risk assessment form - you may find this useful on your farm visit.


Common zoonoses in agriculture

HSE information sheet about zoonoses

Please click here
to download the HSE Common Zoonoses in Agriculture document


E-coli 0157

HSE information sheet

Please click here
to download the HSE E-coli 0157 document


Carriage of passengers on farm trailers

HSE information sheet

Please click here
to download the HSE Passengers
on Trailers document


Child Safety in Agriculture

HSE PowerPoint presentation

Please click here
to download the HSE Child Safety in Agriculture powerpoint presentation


Remember to:

- listen carefully to any safety instructions given.
- always wash hands thoroughly before eating.
- eat only in designated areas.
- clean footwear and hands before leaving.
- do not taste animal food.

5. What about the cost?

Many of the farms listed in the directory make a charge. The charges are very competitive, especially when so much is National Curriculum focused. You will also have to fund a coach.

There is a Directory of Grant Making Trusts which should be available in you local library. Researching this can be quite time consuming but also fruitful. (A good job for a keen and enthusiastic PTA!)

6. When can I go?

Essentially any time during term time! However check opening times and availability of individual farms in the directory.

Most teachers take their classes outside in the spring and summer terms as the weather can be more predictable. However, this does mean that popular venues can be booked up very quickly.

Realistically take the children out when you are dealing with a relevant topic, such as the environment. If this is in the autumn term, take them then - just make some allowances for weather: i.e. go for half a day, check for wet weather provisions etc.

Children don't dissolve and there have been many stimulating and exciting visits during December!

7. Before we go........a checklist

Tips for Teachers

How can you prepare for a farm or horticulture unit visit?

The following information is intended as a check list for teachers planning their first class visit to a farm.

1                     Initial contact with the farm/horticulture unit –

Check opening times and the costs for a school visit.

Request any relevant printed material about the farm/horticulture unit as this will help you decide whether this farm/horticulture unit is suitable for your visit.

Ask for a statement on the farm/horticulture unit’s liability insurance – your LEA probably already insists upon this.

2                     Visit the farm/horticulture unit yourself first!

Check exactly what the farm/horticulture unit has to offer you as teaching/learning resources and what arrangement can be made for special activities which are relevant to any lessons you have planned?  (e.g. some practical mathematics which can be covered by measuring, approximating, drawing or counting activities, etc.)

Reassure yourself that the farm/horticulture unit meets the safety, pleasure and comfort needs of you and your pupils.

Obtain answers to all the other questions you may have e.g.

Are guided visits available?

Are wet weather facilities available?

How long does a tour of the farm take?

What hand washing and toilet facilities are there?

What breaks will there be?

When is lunch time and how long will it be?

Where can lunch be eaten?

Is there anywhere bags and packed lunches can be stored?

Is there a free activity area available?

Is there a teashop or gift shop?

Is there hard standing for a coach and facilities for the coach driver?

The list is not intended to be exhaustive – all teachers will have their own questions and the farmer/grower will be more than willing to answer these questions.

3                     Before the visit takes place.

With your curriculum and lesson planning completed, and all the introductory work undertaken with the children in class, there are still things that you will need to consider:-

Booking transport – some farms will arrange this for you: but do remember to meet any LEA safety requirements (most insist on seat belts in coaches)

Mode of transport – are your children accustomed to this form of travel – indeed are they used to travelling at all?  Consider what travel sickness precautions need to be taken (anti-sickness pills, eating a breakfast before the journey, taking sickness bags with you etc).

Activities for the journey – some teachers find it helpful if they have prepared some interesting activities which the children can undertake during long journeys (I spy, etc).

Packed lunches – you may wish to take packed lunches with you from the schools meals service.  This eliminates the problem of providing for those who normally have free school meals as well as providing food which meet the religious and dietary needs of the children.

Wet-weather clothing – make sure the children have appropriate wet-weather gear – often the LEA outdoor pursuits centre will loan these at very low cost.

Footwear – if children do not possess wellington boots and you know they will be walking through mud, recommend they bring along a pair of really old shoes to wear on the farm.

Recruit and inform the adults who will be accompanying you on the visit so that they know exactly what is expected of them.

Resources – acquire and pack all the necessary resources you may need – tape recorder, camera, clipboards, writing implements, etc and of course make sure you have a fully equipped first aid kit.


8. Where else can I get some information?

Further information can be found from:

The Farms for Schools "Farms to Visit" section

Countryside Learning website

The Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) website