11 October 2019
AFTER a bountiful lambing season this spring, Roedean School’s farm found itself with excess ewes – so has handed four over to a South Downs farm which helps children with health and behavioural issues.
The independent girls’ school in Brighton swapped its four Welsh Badger Face ewes for four bantam hens with East Clayton Farm, a 120-acre site in the South Downs leased by the charity Lorica in 2004. The site’s farm buildings have been transformed into living accommodation for highly dependent young adults whose health needs mean they need 24/7 care and the farm hosts visits from children with behavioural issues who have trouble settling into school.
Roedean head of experiential learning and experienced shepherd Leland Fieldsend, who runs the farm with some of the pupils, said: “We are delighted that, just as they have here at Roedean, the ewes will make a meaningful difference to young people’s lives; they are brilliantly interactive, and should fit into their new home very well. The bantam hens we received in return are already favourites among the Roedean flock, and we look forward to lots of Roedean eggs!”
Roedean has operated a farm on its site for the last three and a half years, an idea dreamt up by headmaster Oliver Blond to introduce the girls to animal husbandry and better understanding of farm life. Farm prefects are appointed and given responsibilities for the farms’ poultry and sheep, with animal welfare being at the heart of activities. As part of the all pupils’ weekly curriculum, they can choose from a range of lessons and activities during their Head Hand Heart (HHH) period, and many of them choose to work on the farm.
Mr Fieldsend added: “There are loads of activities the girls can do as part of their HHH and the farm option is really popular. They can get outside here on the South Downs, learn about everything from animal husbandry to biodiversity and food security and really get to know the animals. It was the first time we lambed this year, which was a real hit with the girls and it’s proved to be a real success.”
Farm prefect Millie Hoffmann, whose mum Bronwyn Eastwood is the farm vet, said: “We’ll miss the Badgers but we know they are going to a really good home so that has made us feel better.”
East Clayton farm CEO Jean Rolfe added: “The young people who visit East Clayton Farm get so much out of working with the animals and being given responsibility to look after them. We are delighted to receive four new resident ewes who have settled in really quickly and are already becoming firm favourites.”