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.”

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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.

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White Rocks Farm College

White Rocks Farm College is a small specialist centre offering vocational BTEC courses for students who have additional educational needs. They are a specialist 16+ Vocational College, with a 19+ unit for students who are not yet ready for work.

The College is set in an idyllic location just outside Sevenoaks,where it is nestled into a wooded hillside on the Greensand Ridge, providing breathtaking views across the Weald of Kent.  It is run by Sue Woods who has who has been working with horses, dogs & many other animals for over 30 years. White Rocks Farm College was founded in 2009 and has grown and developed each year. They specialise in taking students who struggle in the conventional education system. 

The majority of the animals at White Rocks Farm started their career as film animals but are now invaluable in helping to teach our students animal care. 
White Rocks College have a vast selection of animals including poultry, farm animals (such as pigs and cows) and of course the smalls which include our trained film/therapy cats and dogs. They are BHS approved and run the only RDA western riding group in the UK. Our Junior Club is Clubmark Accredited. We also do carriage driving and horse logging. Students are taught in our professional yard and work with a variety of horses and ponies including competition horses, youngstock, driving ponies, and logging horses plus our therapy horses. There are opportunities for some students to ride and drive as part of their course. 
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Named for their son, Harlings is run by Abbi and Will Richardson.  Set in beautiful Devon landscape on the Bere Peninsula and close to the Devon/Cornwall border, the story of Harlings began in 2018.  Abbi, a business and animal care provider, and Will who came from a background of large-scale commercial farming, were looking for a smallholding where they could approach farming in a completely different way.

Abbi says:  “Harling, who has an incredible way with animals, has special needs and we were looking for an environment away from towns in a tranquil setting where he could thrive.  We had looked all over Cornwall and then, in 2019, we found this really beautiful spot within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Devon.  When he saw it, our son said ‘I love it, I feel safe here’, and we knew we had found our home.”

One of the priorities when transforming Harlings was accessibility.  The grounds and facilities, built from scratch, were designed with wheelchair access in mind.  In terms of what is on offer, Abbi says that:  “We’ve been led by people coming to us and asking what we can do.”  Harlings offers educational visits which are funded through the Countryside Stewardship Educational Access payments scheme.  The farm is accredited by the Countryside Educational Visits (CEVAS) scheme, which gives farmers the tools, knowledge and practical guidance to host safe farm visits and it also has the Green Care quality mark, awarded by the charity Social Farms and Gardens, which shows that the team runs a safe and professional organisation.

The farm’s inventory of livestock includes English goats, Berkshire pigs, Gloucester cattle and Dorset Horn sheep.  Abbi says:  “I was really sceptical about having animals with horns to begin with, but we work with people with a wide range of special needs and find that the animals are really amazing – particularly our English goats.  In choosing our livestock, we have had a lot of help and support from other breeders and have met some really lovely people.”

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