LEAF Education, works to engage, inspire and motivate the next generation of young people to become involved in, and aware of the agricultural industry. The impact of this work has gone from strength to strength in the past year, according to its latest report.
With public interest in climate change and food security increasing, LEAF Education has experienced a surge in interest from the education sector wanting to know more about where their food comes from. In response, the leading agri-education organisation has trebled the amount of training and support it offers to farmers – an encouraging sign of how the agri-food sector is increasingly recognising the importance of inspiring future generations.
In the last academic year, LEAF Education, has broken its own record, engaging with more young people, teachers, and schools on-farm and in the classroom than ever before. The number of students benefiting from the organisation’s work has doubled since before the pandemic with a near seven-fold increase in engagement with Key Stages 4 and 5 students.
The organisation has directly provided 35,610 young people with bespoke interactive sessions, worked with 1,570 teachers, and supported 485 farmers with wider professional training, totalling 40,206 hours! Through its partnership with Farmer Time which connects farmers with schools to learn more about life on a farm where visits are not always possible, 995 schools and farmers have been paired, engaging 30,286 children, and offered 72,511 learning hours.
Writing the foreword to LEAF Education’s impacts report, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, Honorary President of LEAF says: “The question of how we feed ourselves, protect our fragile planet and enrich our natural environment has never been more urgent or more vital. Sustainable food production is now rightly at the forefront of our society’s collective attention. The call from future generations for us to reach for a world that is not only sustainable but nature positive and climate positive is getting louder.”
Over the last 12 months, LEAF Education has grown substantially, with a new LEAF Education Programme Manager, four full time Regional Education Consultants and an Education Support Coordinator. The growing team enables it to continue to meet the ever-rising demand for, and interest in, its work from schools, young people, and the agricultural industry.
Carl Edwards, LEAF’s Director, Education and Public Engagement says: “This year’s report highlights how many more of us, particularly young people, want to have a deeper connection to how our food is produced. It shows how a growing number of people understand the benefits of the natural environment to our wellbeing, are keen to become more conscious consumers and recognise the contribution they make through their food choices. Ensuring our young people are equipped with balanced and informed insights into food and farming is the first step in meeting these shared objectives.
“The LEAF Education Team and particularly our network of Regional Education Consultants working throughout England and Wales, are incredibly proud to see the positive attitudes, questions, and thirst for knowledge amongst all the young people we work with. We are grateful to them all and to all our farmers and industry partners who continue to support our work and go out of their way to support our future generations.”
Other highlights from the report include:
– A Royal occasion: LEAF celebrated its 30th Anniversary at Ragley Hall on May 2022, with celebrations led by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO. Pupils from Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School in Alcester, a LEAF Education Demonstration School, spent the day with The Countess participating in a range of activities including sessions on dairy and dairy milk alternatives, tasting LEAF Marque certified produce, and tree planting to commemorate the 30th anniversary
– COP26: in partnership with Sainsbury’s, LEAF Education aimed to highlight the work being done by food producers across the world to mitigate against the climate crisis and to help consumers make more sustainable food choices. LEAF developed the Sainsbury’s Global Farm Website and learning zone, incorporating COP26 through the topics of biodiversity, climate change causes and solutions, plastics, soils and water. While 4,600 young people joined LEAF Demonstration Farmers Jake Freestone and Duncan Farrington on a virtual farm tour
– Teachers Shape the Future: Currently LEAF Education has 15 Demonstration Schools across England which it is looking to double next year. 100% of the teachers LEAF currently works with say the bespoke teacher training, CPD and support offered has increased their confidence in teaching food, farming and the wider natural environment in their classroom. In the past year LEAF Education has honed the quality of the training and support so it is relevant to the National Curriculum, whilst taking account of the demands placed on teachers. 100% of teachers rate LEAF’s work as very good or outstanding
– Farming Fortnight: Farming Fortnight took place from 6-17 June 2022, offering a wide range of engaging and informative National Curriculum linked resources and materials on farming, food production and the natural environment, supporting teachers in delivering inspiring lessons and activities. Each day focussed on a different farming theme, with dedicated social media hashtags to encourage schools and students to share their learning experiences – with #MilkingMonday proving the most popular day. Over 300,000 people had the opportunity to take part and almost 1 million people saw #FarmingFortnight on social media during the period
– And the winner is…: The annual National Food, Farming and Natural Environment Competition is the pinnacle of the organisation’s secondary aged work, providing opportunities for Key Stage 3 and 4 students to experience hands on farming and learn about careers in the agri-food sector since 2018. This year’s finalists’ weekend, run in partnership with Bayer and Coleg Cambria, was once again held at Coleg Cambria in Llysfasi, North Wales. The winners were students from Pipers Corner Independent School in High Wycombe
– Pleased to meet you: LEAF’s attendance at the EIT Food Conference brought home the message that LEAF Education remains at the forefront of global discussions around the future of food. With many talks focusing on innovative education approaches to attract youth to a career in agriculture, sustainable integrated farm management practices, and support for improved nutrition of children and families, LEAF hope to develop further European and international relationships as the leading agriculture education provider in the UK.