Nethercott House School Trips

Farms For City Children

Home / Activity Centres South West / Devon

Children’s author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare founded Farms for City Children at Nethercott House in Devon in 1976. The charity offers urban children from all over the country a unique opportunity to live and work together for a week at a time on a real farm in the heart of the countryside. It is an intense, ‘learning through doing’ experience of a different life – for children who may not know where their food comes from and have limited opportunities to explore the outside world.

We now have three working farms, where we welcome around 3,000 children and 400 teachers a year. Each of the farms are staffed by a combination of Farm School Manager or School Manager with a background in teaching and Farm Managers with responsibility for the farm work and outdoor environment. There are also cooks, housekeepers and domestic staff who provide a welcoming and caring atmosphere at each centre, and farm workers employed to work directly with the children outside.

The land surrounding Nethercott House is farmed in partnership with brothers Graham and David Ward, a relationship that goes back to the very earliest days of the Charity when the family partnership of Graham and David and their father John Ward helped Clare and Michael Morpurgo to start Farms for City Children in 1976. Graham has a herd of organic milking Friesians, while David farms sheep and a beef herd. The children help look after donkeys, ponies, pigs and a wide range of poultry, as well as participating in woodland activities and going on a Sunday walk. There is a large walled kitchen garden where the children help grow the vegetables they eat with their meals. As farming is very seasonal, activities will vary throughout the year.

school trip at Nethercott House
Nethercott House school groups

Why are Farms For City Children great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

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Living and working on the farm for a week fosters children’s independence, confidence, self-esteem, resilience and collaborative skills, whilst encouraging the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. Children become farmers for a week, working with the animals and the land, developing their understanding of where our food comes from. The breadth and rich variety of activities and experiences available during the week’s residential visit to one of our farms covers many aspects of the National Curriculum, for example links can be made with PSHE, Science, DT (particularly Cooking and Nutrition), and PE. Other subjects, activity dependent, are English, Mathematics, Geography, History and Art and Design (National Curriculum links refer to Key Stage Two). Our Education Officer can discuss further about curricular links and pre or post visit support.

What activities are available during group visits?

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In the course of a highly structured day, the children are divided into three work groups.

Our staff and the farmers provide activities that involve the children and their teachers actively in the day-to-day running of the farms.

The children are encouraged to take full responsibility for the work they do, caring for the animals and the land. The experience stretches them physically, emotionally and intellectually in ways not possible in the classroom, building their confidence and nurturing a real sense of achievement.

What size groups do you cater for?

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Up to 39 children (minimum charge for 36 children). Teachers go free (minimum of four adults but can accommodate up to five).

Do you offer on-site classroom facilities?

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We have two designated rooms; one with sofas, board games and books, and another with table tennis and table football. There is also a large garden for children to play in and explore. We have a large classroom as well as a well-stocked library with fiction and non-fiction titles. You will need to bring your own materials for classroom activities. Access to a landline and Wi-Fi is available for visiting adults.

Is there first aid on site?

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Senior staff at the farm all hold 3 day First Aid qualifications and most other staff hold 1 day emergency First Aid qualifications. We encourage schools to ensure that all adults accompanying the children are First Aid trained as our staff are not present overnight.

Do you offer access for visitors with disabilities?

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We encourage children of all abilities to visit the farm and regularly host groups with all sorts of physical and mental abilities. However, our heritage buildings and countryside setting can pose a challenge for some and it's important that you discuss all such issues with us ahead of your visit.

Do you cater for visitors with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

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We encourage all children to visit the farm and regularly host children with a variety of special educational needs, disabilities, health conditions and allergies. However, our heritage buildings and countryside setting can pose a challenge for some and it's important that you discuss all such issues with us ahead of your visit.




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