Pupils across Norfolk have been given a ewe-nique experience as part of a project to teach the county’s children about livestock and farming.
The Loan a Lamb project has seen six schools adopt a ewe and lamb for the week, with children and staff charged with feeding and caring for the animals. At Sparhawk Infant and Nursery in Sprowston, Barbara and her lamb Larry have taken up residence on the school field and are being tended to by pupils from across the school.
Assistant headteacher Jade Hunter said the children had been “absolutely enthralled”. “Every day they are coming out and learning to care for them, feed them, check their hay,” she said. “It has been fantastic for the children to get that hands-on experience. A lot of our children don’t often get that close to farm animals so for them it has been a great experience.” Ms Hunter added that the project, funded by the school’s friends association, had also been linked into the curriculum.
The other schools involved in the project – the first of its kind – are Mile Cross Primary, The Clare School and Eaton Hall Academy in Norwich, Loddon Junior School and Peterhouse Primary Academy in Gorleston.
Loan a Lamb is the idea of Tony Bellinger, education manager at the Food and Farming Discovery Trust. While some thought he was baa-rmy, Mr Bellinger saw his idea through and is delighted with its success. He said: “The excitement from the children and the teachers has been overwhelming – it is something we didn’t think about at first. We would like to give more children the same opportunity to engage with livestock.”
The six South Down ewes and their lambs have been provided by Gail Sprake, who runs a livestock and arable farm in the Waveney Valley and is chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. She said the Loan a Lamb project aimed “to bring the farm to the school” for children who may not otherwise have access to one. “We know it is a privilege to live in the countryside and have access to the animals but to share it with others has been the most amazing experience. It is a window into a different life,” she said.
Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming) Education and Chapelfield Veterinary Partnership are also involved in the project, which is sponsored by Ben Burgess.