Packington Free Range has donated two pigs to Bridge Short Stay School in Lichfield to provide a unique learning experience. Teacher Ed Smedmore said: “The children who come to us haven’t responded well to a traditional classroom setting, so rather than trying to repeat this, we decided to incorporate a more hands-on approach to learning, and the development of the school farm is one aspect of this. Hopefully, through this alternative approach, we can reinvigorate their attitude to learning.”
The students are able to work towards a BTEC qualification in subjects such as animal care through their work with the pigs, which includes checking they have enough feed and water, changing bedding and maintaining the upkeep of the pens and generally considering the animals’ welfare.
Robert Mercer, co-owner of Packington Free Range, who, along with the pigs donated feed, straw, a feed trough and drinkers added: “Animal welfare is at the heart of everything we do and caring for the pigs is a fantastic way to encourage the next generation to question where their food has come from and how it was produced.
“Looking after the animals also helps to instil a real sense of pride and responsibility and if the children can take this away from the experience, as well as gaining a qualification and avoiding exclusion at school, then the programme has been a complete success and one we are incredibly proud to support.”
Since taking on the pigs in spring of this year, positive improvements in the children’s behaviour have already been noticed. Smedmore said: “Students want to be outside and involved in looking after the pigs. Spending time outdoors is an alternative approach to learning – the animals can have a really therapeutic effect and we’ve yet to see a child who doesn’t respond well to them.”