Merrist Wood College 

The college’s 400-acre estate features woodlands, wetlands, livestock, gardens and grasslands, as well as a specialist animal management centre. The College’s rare breeds conservation programme supports Portland sheep, Wensleydale sheep, Oxford Sandy & Black pigs, Golden Guernsey goats and rare breeds of poultry.
Luke Gates, Head of Animal Collections at Merrist Wood said: “The RBST is an organisation that we have been passionate about supporting for many years with our first rare breeds arriving at Merrist Wood in 2000. Over the last 7 years we have been serious about developing our rare breeds for teaching and learning and supporting the RBST. We now have ten different breeds who are in need of protection due to low numbers. Many people know about giant pandas and various rhino species needing conservation support, but many of our own native livestock breeds are actually more rare.”

Charlie Dodd, Farm Manager at Merrist Wood added: “This year the RBST is running a campaign called Love a Longwool which is what really spurred us on to become RBST accredited this year. To become the first ever Education Facility rare breeds farm under their new framework is fantastic news for the Activate Learning group. We have just scanned our rare breeds sheep and are excited to announce all are pregnant and with the help of the RBST we look forward to do our part in conserving these breeds.”

Tom's Farm Nightingale Academy

Tom’s Farm is home to a number of ‘Priority’ and ‘At Risk’ rare breeds including Border Leicester sheep, Derbyshire Gritstone sheep, Oxford Sandy & Black pigs, Golden Guernsey goats, Bagot goats, and Norfolk Black turkeys. Other native breeds cared for at the farm include Shetland ponies, Welsh ponies, Shetland sheep and Southdown sheep. Tom’s Farm works with other school farms and rare breed farm parks including Jimmy’s Farm and Hadleigh Farm, and it is currently running a UK-wide breeding and education programme supporting rare breed Oxford Sandy and Black pigs.

  • Tom’s Farm is a field to fork experience for students, parents, staff and the wider community aimed at reconnecting people with farming and the origins of their food.
  • Based predominately in schools and educational facilities we have developed a tried and tested curriculum aimed at achieving accredited qualifications in Horticulture, Land Based studies and Animal Care through KS1-5. Our current offer is designed to drive the students to completing a challenging, yet achievable qualification supported with a holistic and deep understanding of the course.
  • Twinned with education comes our mission for conservation of rare and native breeds of livestock that we use as both a tool for our qualifications and as an incredible therapy resource aimed at allowing young people moments of reflection and resetting whilst developing the ever-important skills of care and empathy.
  • Nightingale Community Academy is part of a wider trust known as Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust. Since the College was established in 1983 it has grown from a small hospital provision into an Outstanding College that operates from six college centres and provides post-16 education for students with moderate, complex and profound learning needs.