5 November 2020
St Augustine’s Priory, Ealing Catholic independent day school for girls, was delighted to have been selected as one of the 25 shortlisted schools at the i25 2020 awards with two staff members, Marc Raffray and Michael Kane, recognised for their work. The i25 2020 virtual awards ceremony took place last night to recognise, as their website states, ‘the independent sector’s leading influences and innovators who have made an impact in some way: the top 25.’
St Augustine’s Priory were in excellent company as the twenty-five shortlisted schools were narrowed down to the five finalists with Westminster School emerging as the deserving winner.
On the shortlist of 25, Marc Raffray and Michael Kane were recognised for their founding work and on-going and invaluable commitment to the Priory Farm, the St Augustine’s Priory’s own farm, which incorporates pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, an orchard and an allotment.
To have a farm in a school based in London is unusual and the Priory Farm is a year round community project that relies on volunteer students and families, not only during term time but at weekends and throughout the holidays. Reaching out to the local community is a primary focus of the Priory Farm and 540 children from local state primary schools have visited for farm tours since May 2018. St Augustine’s Priory is looking forward to welcoming pupils from state partner schools as soon as schools are able to receive visitors once more.
The Priory Farm is a centre for continual innovation and adaptability which can be seen from a look at its programme of student involvement, animal care and scientific and community initiatives.
Pupils are involved at all levels. Mr Raffray runs a tiered training programme for pupil Farm Managers where pupils are taught how to care for the livestock and he has also started a sheep breeding programme. Guiding groups of visiting local school children is an opportunity for them to learn about caring for animals and the farm’s environmental advantages. Mr Raffray also organises sales to parents of the St Augustine’s Priory chicken eggs and apple juice, produced from the St Augustine’s Priory orchard.
Michael Kane, Head of Science, is always looking to incorporate scientific advances in the running of the farm and, among other things, has organised a soundproof shed for the chickens and cockerel, the harvesting of water in butts and has worked with the I.T. Department to install a temperature regulator for the chickens. Cross-curricular activity is an essential focus for the Priory Farm involving, for example, the three sciences, Art, I.T. and R.E.
The benefit of Priory Farm for teaching sustainability and the development of practical, organisational and leadership skills amongst the pupils is invaluable.
As Headteacher, Sarah Raffray commented, ‘We are thrilled at being one of the 25 shortlisted schools at the i25 2020 awards. In these extraordinary times, the Priory Farm is a source of well-being for all staff and pupils – providing mental space and ways of living sympathetically with our environment.’
St Augustine’s Priory is a leading Catholic Independent Day School for girls aged 3 – 18 set in 13 acres of grounds.
Ms S Masih, Email SophiePMasih@sapriory.com
Ms M King, Email MKing@sapriory.com