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Publication - Research Publication

Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)

Published: 23 Mar 2016

Report evaluating how all nine projects have contributed to the programme’s overall outcomes.

119 page PDF

1.8MB

119 page PDF

1.8MB

Contents
Evaluation of the Food Education Programme (2012-2015)
Annex 8: From Farm to Plate - Royal Highland Education Trust

119 page PDF

1.8MB

Annex 8: From Farm to Plate - Royal Highland Education Trust

Background to the project

463. This section provides background information to the project 'From Farm to Plate' from the Royal Highland Education Trust ( RHET). It describes how the project came to life, discusses the project's aims, outcomes and budget.

Project description

464. RHET is an educational charity that works to support schools in teaching school children about the issues surrounding food, farming and the countryside, through farm visits, classroom talks, free resources for schools and the education programme at the Royal Highland Show.

465. Learning opportunities focus on: farming and food production, outdoor learning for all, Countryside - incl. forestry and estate management and environmental awareness.

466. The main target groups for this project were teachers, students, farmers, RHET partners and also the general public. Delivery partners included local councils, farmers and schools.

467. A project coordinator in each of RHETs 12 areas was responsible for liaising with schools, activity providers, hosts, farmers, enterprise coordinators. Area coordinator also provided the administration and programming for events, arranged the hired facilities required, carried out health and safety assessments and managed site visits.

468. There were two key activities carried out by the project:

  • Food and Farming Days: Food & Farming days were a single event typically running from 10 am till approximately 2:30 pm. They were specifically designed for P6/7 pupils. Pupils and their teachers attended an external agriculture related venue, such as farms, estates, agricultural centres (marts), agricultural show grounds. Pupils participated in a range of activities which may have included: grinding wheat into flour, making butter from cream, looking at sheep, sheep handling, livestock, cuts of meat and planting vegetables. A school had to sign up to RHET to have arrangements made. Teachers attended a visit to the site prior to the event where they had the opportunity to help shape sessions.
  • Farmer's Markets (primary & secondary schools): Farmer's Markets were primarily geared towards business & enterprise but they were also about involving the wider community and encouraging understanding and consumption of Scottish/local produce.

469. Since the project started the enthusiasm around farmers markets has gradually worn and it was reported to be very difficult to 'sell' this idea to schools/teachers. The main reason reported was that it required much more preparation than for the Food and Farming events. As such, the project concentrated on the Food and Farming Days.

Project aims and outcomes

470. The overall aim of From Farm to Plate was to ensure that:

Food is used as a topic for interdisciplinary leaning with enriched delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

471. Specifically, the outcomes of the project were defined as:

  • Educate children and teachers about food, farming and the countryside providing positive links to the Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in regard to food sourcing.
  • Create strong partnerships between RHET, farmers, schools and other food sector education partners, where relevant, to deliver food-based events for schools encouraging pupil engagement and learning.
  • Increase understanding of farming and food production in Scotland and encourage consumption of Scottish produce.

Budget

472. The project From Farm to Plate started during pilot years 2010-12. The total level of funding over that time from the Scottish Government was over £84,700.

473. During the main years of the FEP, funding allocated from the Scottish Government came to over £50,000 per annum (£58,284 in Year 1; £51,846 in Year 2 and £52,446 in Year 3).

Progress on project delivery

474. Progress on project delivery, was assessed using information gathered from various data provided, which included:

  • Individual projects' progress against targets set by the Scottish Government
  • Individual projects' achievement of project aims
  • Challenges faced
  • Feedback from the target populations on successful delivery and satisfaction
  • Identification of characteristics/features of successful projects

Attainment of Scottish Government targets

475. The two main targets set for RHET were in regards to the number of Food and Farming days and Farmers markets organised. While the target against Food and Farming days was continuously exceeded, farmers markets did not share the same momentum for the reasons explained previously.

476. Taking the total number of events to be organised at 24 during each financial year, RHET managed however to meet its overall target during Year 1 and Year 2, but felt short of 5 events during Year 3. The table below shows detail of progress over time.

Table 32: RHET Progress towards achieving targets

Target Progress Status
Targets Year 1

12 Food & Farming days 18 Food and Farming days organised Exceeded
12 Farmers markets 11 markets took place Partially achieved
Targets Year 2
12 Food & Farming days 26 events in total Exceeded
12 Farmers markets 7 markets across 8 schools Partially achieved
Targets Year 3
12 Food & Farming days 15 events in total Exceeded
12 Farmers markets 5 farmers markets Partially achieved

477. Additionally, the Scotland's Farming Year DVD was revamped and launched in February 2013. The DVD was available free to all primary schools and focused on health & wellbeing, science and social studies. Its aim was to provide a comprehensive introduction to farming in Scotland, and its role in food production and the countryside [23] .

Achievement of project aims

478. Objective #1: Educate children and teachers about food, farming and the countryside providing positive links to the Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in regard to food sourcing. From reports provided, the project appeared to have increased knowledge among participants to the event, as well as raised enthusiasm to keep involvement in the food topic.

479. Objective #2: Create strong partnerships between RHET, farmers, schools and other food sector education partners, where relevant, to deliver food-based events for schools encouraging pupil engagement and learning. The level of in-kind investment was consistently high and surpassed Scottish Government funding. No issues were recorded in regards of engagement with industry.

480. Objective #3: Increase understanding of farming and food production in Scotland and encourage consumption of Scottish produce. No data was provided to support any progress towards this objective.

Challenges

481. The main challenges as reported by the project coordinator were:

  • Time commitment and competition for time among schools. While the project found it hard to engage with new schools, once they [schools] were involved they enjoy it and in most cases wanted to repeat the experience.
  • Some resistance from schools and inflexibility from others (some schools only do one trip per school year). More resistance was evident when organising farmers markets because of the work load involved for teachers. Teachers had to asses if they had the time to commit, if the programme fitted with what they were currently doing and what the outcomes were going to be for the pupils. Over time, resistance from teachers to attending farmers markets increased.
  • Ensuring the project fits with specific learning or alternative plans. From the project coordinators experience, it appeared that some schools were more rigid than others and unless RHET approached them at the right time regarding planning, convincing them to take part was a difficult task.
  • Costs and lack of appropriate equipment. Some schools were reluctant to take part unless full transport costs were covered. This challenge was more acute in the more deprived areas.

482. Despite some resistance and limited amount of resources available, the project made some good progress. Coordinators remained flexible towards schools, allowing for more Food and Farming days to take place in detriment of farmers markets.

Feedback from target audiences

483. Overall, the project appeared to receive positive feedback from pupils, teachers and farmers. The project coordinator reported that schools liked the interactivity and the general experience of outdoor learning.

484. On completion of the events, teachers received feedback forms to report on their experience of the day. On the whole, there was an overwhelmingly positive response from teachers to both the food and farming days and the school farmer's markets. They were considered to be well organised and enjoyed by those taking part and many commented on how they would recommend it to other schools.

485. There were a few negative comments. These were mainly about the lack of facilities for hand-washing and breaks. There were no consistent themes with other comments and suggestions indicating individual preferences or one off experiences and little cause for concern.

486. When asked what sessions the pupils enjoyed most, many teachers responded that they enjoyed all sessions, but in particular some elements stood out: hands-on activities (such as making food stuffs), handling animals or tasting food.

487. Where issues were raised and suggestions made for improvements, these tended to focus on facility provision, the level of hands-on activities, the duration of events, delivery of the activities, event information and getting to the event location.

488. Farms/businesses were also provided with feedback forms to report on their experience. The vast majority expressed a high level of satisfaction with how the day went but suggestions for improvement were given on the following:

  • Listening - The ability for groups to hear what is being said (dependant on group size, space and acoustics of the environment)
  • Time and group management - There could be improvements in time management of groups and organisation of the groups at the start of the day, especially where transport issues resulted in delays. Also, one commented that more time was needed at each station.
  • Transport - arrangements should be more realistic considering school logistics.

489. Anecdotally, among farmers encountered by the project there seemed to be a lot of altruism and them actually wanting people to know what they do.

490. No feedback forms were distributed to the pupils directly, so their experience can only be evaluated through teachers' perceptions.

Key features of success

491. As stated above, feedback forms received from teachers and industry were overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.

492. Crofting Connections [see Annex 2] and the Co-op 'From Farm to Fork' [24] are the only other groups in Scotland doing anything similar to RHET regarding farming education. RHET is the main player in Scotland, as Crofting Connection concentrates around the crofting areas of the Highland & Islands.

493. There was an under spent each year enabling spend on more information boards, leaflets, farm activities book and Farm Visits guidance leaflets.

Progress on Programme Outcomes

494. This section focuses on the impact that From Farm to Plate has had on the wider FEP outcomes of Opportunities, Embeddedness, Investment and Learning and Behaviour Change.

Opportunities

495. This section reports on progress towards the overall programme outcome: Opportunities to learn about food are provided to young people.

496. Since the launch of the FEP around 14,400 opportunities for children to learn about food as part of RHET were created. This included somewhere between 140-220 schools on a yearly basis.

497. Demand fluctuated as teachers/schools and providers interests varied. There was, however, a consistent downward trend in the number of farmer's markets organised. Food and Farming days were much more popular and the trend was to continue investing in this area. Further detail on opportunities created is reported in the table below:

Table 33: RHET - Opportunities created over time


FEP: Year 1 2012-13 FEP: Year 2 2013-14 FEP: Year 3 2014-15
Number of pupil opportunities created 5,120 5,285 4,834
Food & Farming days
Number of Food & Farming days 22 14 15
Schools involved in Food &Farming days 106 174 137
Farmers markets
Number of farmer's markets 11 7 5
Schools involved in Farmers markets 21 40 19

498. The vast majority of schools engaged were primary schools with the exception of four secondary schools in Year 1 and three in Year 3.

499. The coverage of the programme was spread across most local authorities, although there is concentration along the Central Belt and the East coast of Scotland. The map below shows the geographical spread of the project over time.

Image 8: RHET geographical coverage

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500. All in all, the project managed to create a consistent high number of pupil opportunities to learn about food year on year. The Food & Farming days remained popular and successful, with positive feedback received from both teachers and industry.

Embeddedness

501. Food education activities are embedded in the curriculum and teachers appreciate food as a learning resource and are confident to deliver food related learning.

502. The following indicators were identified as appropriate to measure progress towards the Embeddedness outcome:

  • Number of Food education CPD events
  • Number of teachers attending CPD events regarding food events
  • Feedback from CPD (or other events) indicating positive impacts on learning, enthusiasm and confidence
  • Resources - range, availability and feedback on use

503. RHET was involved in a number of teacher training events across Scotland, where they brought the Curriculum learning to life using the farm setting to cover several subject areas. A total of 100 teachers were reached in Year 1, 200 in Year 2 and 200 in Year 3.

504. From feedback collected by RHET, the information events were welcomed by teachers considering them appropriate and useful. The majority of teachers said that the Food & Farming days met their curricular needs. Most teachers also agreed that the sessions for pupils were also pitched at an appropriate level. Some quotes include:

  • 'The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The content of each session was interesting and informative. Each session was also interactive to ensure that pupils were engaged.'
  • 'Excellent sessions with various activities, every child irrespective of ability had an understanding of what was being discussed.'

505. Resources created by RHET for the purpose of this project include: a Scotland's Farming Year DVD, a Teachers Notes document for those engaged with a Food and Farming event or Farmer's markets and an Information booklet for the CPD sessions (this contains information about the faring enterprises, the location, history and heritage of the farm (if applicable)).

506. No formal feedback on the resources was collected by the project but anecdotal evidence showed that these had been warmly received and widely used particularly when preparing for the Food & Farming days or Farmer's markets.

Investment

507. The level of in-kind investment received from industry and other external partners by RHET is consistently and significantly higher than the funding received from the Scottish Government.

508. Even though, there was a considerable drop in in-kind investment during Year 3, this was still above government's funding. Should be noted that as Food & Farming days developed, less people were required to set up and run them in relation to the earlier days of the project. This was reflected in the total number of hours in-kind. Furthermore, all Farmer's markets had varying amounts of time committed to them to help them set up and run. The table below shows level of in-kind investment over time.

Table 34: RHET investment

FEP: Year 1 2012-13 FEP: Year 2 2013-14 FEP: Year 3 2014-15
Scottish Government funding £58,284 £51,846 £52,446
In-kind investment from industry and other external partners £198,720 £222,400 £78,423

509. During its lifetime, the project managed to engage with industry and achieved a considerable amount of in-kind investment. Future financial engagement from industry with the project should be closely monitored, considering the drop recorded during Year 3.

Learning and Behaviour Change

510. RHET collected formal feedback from teachers taking part in the events. The response was highly positive and suggested that the pupils had learnt a lot across a range of areas including: types of farming, where food comes from, butchery, how some food is made, roles & jobs in the farm, healthy eating, and environmental awareness.

511. Most of teachers reported that pupils' knowledge and understanding of food and farming had been enhanced by taking part in the Food & Farming day.

512. From the feedback collected, the sessions pupils enjoyed the most related to the Eatwell Plate Challenge, the auction, seeing real life animals and for some also the tractor ride. When asked what their pupils enjoyed the least, most said that nothing. Some, however, said that the least popular sessions were in relation to crops/cereals, vegetables or potatoes.

513. Teachers were also asked how they intend to carry on the learning within the classroom and a wide range of ideas were offered, e.g. linking the visit to the environment, healthy eating, nutrition, fair trade or even science and art work. For a minority the Food & Farming day was the culmination of activity already carried out.

514. Many schools had either been involved in a farm visit prior to or following the food and farming event, which is a good step towards embedding the food, farming and countryside learning into the curriculum.

515. So overall, it appears that the project has helped improve knowledge and understanding of food and farming. However, there is no clear indication of the impact the learning has had/will have on future behaviour.


Contact

Email: RESAS, socialresearch@gov.scot