On the 2nd July the Royal Agricultural University hosted its second annual Teacher and Adviser Conference, with the Countryside Alliance providing the keynote speaker. The event was supported by a partnership between the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), Applied Inspiration and the School Farms Network (SFN), and brought together teachers and advisers from across the country with a view to raising awareness of the educational and career opportunities in the land-based sector.

The Alliance’s Liam Stokes used the keynote address to call for greater collaboration between colleges, schools and universities to make land-based subjects available to all young people who might benefit from them. Drawing on his experience of land-based education systems from all over the world, Liam told the conference that making this sort of learning an option for all students would tap into the potential of children who do not do well in traditional classroom environments, as well as boosting our land-based industries.

Liam also argued that the only way to secure the future of the school farms that make land-based education possible was to introduce a GCSE Agriculture, saying “without a relevant GCSE contributing to performance tables and funding, school governors struggle to justify the expense of a farm. Introducing a GCSE Agriculture would provide learners with transferable skills and improve both their academic performance and their employability, but would also incentivise the maintenance and creation of school farms. These farms could then be woven into the whole curriculum, ensuring all young people can reap the benefits of land-based education.”