9:03am Tuesday 13th November 2012
By Anne Moore
A school's vision of having classes run outdoors has become a reality.
Springfield Academy in Calne, which cares for vulnerable children, has opened its new Greenfield Campus on land it rents from Goatacre farmer Kevin Iles.
The campus will offer lessons in animal care and therapeutic sessions not just to Springfield pupils, but to students from other schools in the area.
Funding from the Springfields Charitable Trust has paid for a new barn, a custom built classroom so lessons can continue whatever the weather, as well as pens and paddocks.
Over the past two weeks animals have been moving into the new site, including Shetland ponies, hens rescued from battery farms and rare breed pigs. Many of these animals have come from animal sanctuaries and in the future the farm will be home to two donkeys from a donkey rescue centre.
There are also plans to revamp the farm’s pond to have ducks there and to have a bee farm producing honey for sale.
Pupils from the Springfields have already visited the land, as have students from Hardenhuish in Chippenham, St John’s in Marlborough and from both Devizes and Corsham schools.
The project will be managed by Laura Jones, a qualified zooologist who used to work at London Zoo, and more recently worked for the Greatwood horse rehabilitation centre in Marlborough.
Mrs Jones, who will be working alongside teaching assistant Harriet Baulu, said the new project would help children to learn more about the agricultural industry.
She said: “It’s fascinating that children, who you just assume because they live in Wiltshire are familiar with animals, are not used to handling them. They can get a real sense of acheivement caring for animals.”
Springfields headteacher Trystan Williams said: “The more facilities we have got the more children we can work with. This is coming from years of evidence based research and we are making the most of animals to have an impact on children’s emotional and social health.”
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