St Augustine’s Priory, Ealing Catholic independent day school for girls, has been named as one of 25 shortlisted schools at the i25 2020 awards with two staff members, Marc Raffray and Michael Kane, also recognised for their work.
Westminster School emerged as the deserving winner.
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 when he’s not looking after the farm, 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 IT 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, IT and RE.
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.”