26 February 1999

School farm fight is won

SUSSEX school pupils have won their fight to save their farm.

Oathall Community College Farm – home to 40 ewes, eight sows and three cows – has won a reprieve after its future was threatened by a proposed budget cut under the governments Fair Funding policy.

"A fantastic unique asset," is how 11-year-old Joanna Blackman, a pupil at the Haywards Heath school describes it. As well as forming a key part of lessons, its great fun, she says. "We are able to work on the farm for a few hours before and after school – this helps us to understand how different animals live and bring up their young."

"Marvellous news," says Joannas mother, Susan. "If the farm had gone it would have disappointed so many of the kids. They are so lucky to have it."

Teacher Howard Wood says the chance to see and work with stock is great for the pupils. "At a time when we are becoming more and more urbanised and divorced from our food sources, many students at Oathall become ambassadors for what goes on in the countryside and for its conservation," he says.

The farm, started in 1941 during the Dig For Victory campaign, was praised by OFSTED inspectors only last November. They described it as "an exceptional resource used to add variety to the curriculum". TR