In a different field …
Over the coming weeks in the countdown to the Royal Highland Show, hundreds of children from across the country will be taken out of their classrooms – and many out of their comfort zones – to discover Scotland as they’ve never seen it before. From primary schools north, east, south and west, children will down their pencils and don welly boots to explore Scotland’s farms. And this unique opportunity is all thanks to the extraordinary work of the Royal Highland Education Trust.
The Trust’s purpose is to bring farming and the working countryside and its practices to life for young people and they do this – with a small army of volunteers – providing free educational activities and experiential learning opportunities linked to Curriculum for Excellence.
As the summer term progresses, 150 pupils from Aberdour, Inverkeithing, Pitreavie and Masterton primary schools in Fife will be visiting Barns Farm near Aberdour (24th May). The children will be looking at livestock (sheep & cattle), diversification, renewable energy, conservation, cereals and the farm’s machinery. On the same day, close to 100 pupils from Thornhill, Deanston, Gargunnock, Bantaskin, Alva, and Slamannan primaries will be enjoying time out at Lerrocks Farm. A week later, 280 students from Cupar’s Bell Baxter High School will be having a series of talks on reduced packaging, food miles, sustainable practice and career opportunities.
In the same week, almost 200 pupils from Annette St, Crookston Castle, Darnley, St Marnock’s primary schools are visiting Pollock Park in Glasgow. Their visit includes discovering all about beef production, dairy production, vegetables, wildlife crime, Clydesdale horses and tractors, and a sheepdog trial. Children from Ballantrae, Colmonell and Girvan primaries will be spending time on the Kings Arms Farm at Ballantrae.
Into June, Meldrum Farm is the destination for a further 100 pupils – this time S2s from Callanders’ McLaren High. And children from Dunblane Primary are having a morning as part of Health Week that involves 5 learning stations covering dairy, meat, cereals, eggs and fruit and veg. A whopping 300 children from schools across Levenmouth – Aberhill, Balcurvie, Kennoway, Methilhill, Mountfleurie, St Agatha’s and Parkhill primary Schools – will be spending time looking at sheep, sheep shearing, machinery, cereals, vegetables, cows & calves, deer management, forestry, game keeping, wildlife crime and pond life … all delivered by Gilston Mains on Fife’s East Neuk.
In other areas, some of this year’s visits have been completed: Kinnordy Estate welcomed almost 400 children across two days from Airlie, Ancrum Road, Cortachy, Downfield, Eassie, Glamis, Isla, Longhaugh, Newtyle, Northmuir, Southmuir, St Pius and Tannadice primary schools in Angus. In the same county, around 100 children from Maisondieu, Andover, Stracathro and Edzell primary schools will be visiting the Angus Showground.
And this is just a summary of a few! Such visits are taking place right across Scotland. In fact, every academic year, RHET takes more than 16,500 children onto farms and estates … and over 28,000 pupils have a farmer come and talk in their school. At the Royal Highland Show, RHET accommodates roughly 300 school groups on the Thursday and Friday and provides educational activities for the general public on the Saturday and Sunday.
Incredibly, all RHET services and resources are free to schools in Scotland and organised by a team of Project Coordinators and volunteer committees, representing each of the twelve RHET Countryside Initiatives throughout Scotland. Each Coordinator works year-round to help deliver opportunities for pre-school, primary and secondary children to gain a better understanding of the Scottish countryside by providing reliable and balanced information on farming and rural issues – and organising fully risk-assessed farm visits, classroom talks and a host of competitions and events.
Year of Young People 2018
RHET’s work is especially poignant in 2018 as this is Scotland’s Year of Young People. The organisation works with numerous partners to provide and deliver world-leading learning opportunities, designed for all Scotland’s young people. They may well be farm visits or outdoor events such as the ones we’ve highlighted but they could just as easily be classroom talks by those working on farms, the provision of free educational resources for schools or help with competitions and projects working with schools.
Whatever the resource and whatever the delivery, RHET’s aim is to provide the opportunity for every child in Scotland to learn about food, farming and the countryside – and to create a wider understanding of not only environmental work but also the economic and social realities of rural Scotland.
All of this farm support for schools and children comes hot on the heels of the news that Scotland’s food and drink exports grew to a whopping £6 billion in 2017 – and the Scottish Government wanting our food & drink industry to double its value to £30 billion by 2030. Earlier this year, James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: “The world is increasingly developing a taste for Scottish produce and it is driving incredible growth for Scottish food and drink businesses and the economy as a whole.”
To reach that goal, we need more young people to want to work on our farms, in our farming businesses and in food & drink production. T that end, RHET are leading the way, encouraging a new generation to engage with farming. But they have outstanding support from other organisations, passionate about their work and role in developing careers for youngsters.
One such organisation is LANTRA. They have over 40 years’ experience of developing quality training and qualifications – and their work is designed specifically to meet the needs of those working in land-based and environmental fields.
They’re helping youngsters find careers working on the land right the way across Scotland in all manner of areas …
- Agriculture – for people who are practical, hard-working and like the outdoors or have an interest in science and technology.
- Aquaculture – ideal if you like working outdoors, developing new skills and keeping up with the latest science and technology.
- Environmental Conservation – the environmental conservation industry is amongst the most diverse, dynamic and rewarding in Scotland.
- Equine – love horses and want a job where you could work with them every day? Choose a career in the equine industry!
- Fisheries Management – great choice if you enjoy working outdoors and have a passion for fishing.
- Game & Wildlife – like to use your initiative, take responsibility and work hard? Game and Wildlife is for you!
- Horticulture – be creative and get your hands dirty with a helping of science and technology if you work in horticulture.
- Land-based Engineering – problem-solving abilities and innovative solutions needed if you want to work with the latest technologies.
- Trees & Timber – Like being outdoors using machinery and getting your hands dirty, or prefer science or research within a lab? Trees and timber is the career for you!
The network of organisations working together to benefit our countryside is extraordinary – and there’s a great focus on youngsters, encouraging the next generation. From Apprenticeships.Scot, promoting apprenticeships and vacancies to numerous countryside trusts, such as the Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) which aims to maintain, enhance and promote the coast and countryside of Argyll and the Isles. From Countryside Learning Scotland, a unique charity helping people to learn about the countryside with a particular concern for young people and those living in urban areas, to Food and Drink Federation Scotland – the voice of food and drink manufacturing, highlighting many careers on offer. Add in a few more … Historic Environment Scotland, NFU Scotland, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), Open Farm Sunday, The Mountains and the People, Forestry Commission Scotland, The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, RSABI, Rural Skills Scotland, The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC), The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Natural Heritage … and you begin to get a sense of the enormous collective effort that goes on day by day – all helping to shape and support those working in our countryside.
The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) was established in 1999 as the educational charity of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). The Trust’s head office is in Ingliston House on the Royal Highland Showground next to Edinburgh airport. Alongside the head office sit twelve Countryside Initiatives (CI) that cover all of Scotland: Angus, Ayrshire & Arran, Clyde, Dumfries & Galloway, Dumbarton, Lomond & Renfrew, Fife, Forth Valley, Highland, Lothian, Perth & Kinross, Royal Northern and the Scottish Borders. Each consists of a local board/committee and Project Coordinator, all of whom work together to deliver RHET’s aims and ambitions to pupils. Volunteers account for the largest portion of RHET’s work across the country and total over 1,000 people. Find out here how you can get involved.
The Royal Highland Show
… where you can count on a great day out.
Four days, 100 media titles broadcasting live, 280 acres, 1,000 exhibitors, 6,500 animals, and annual economic impact of more than £65 million: that’s the The Royal Highland Show.
Visitors from home and abroad will descend on the Highland Show ground at Ingliston to see all manner of displays and exhibits, showcasing Scotland … our bountiful larder, spectacular show jumping, countryside pursuits, educational workshops, entertainment, shopping and a whole host of business opportunities.
This year’s show runs from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th June. Follow this link for tickets and much more.
Thanks to RHET, LANTRA and partners for the images used in this Blog.
Thanks for reading!