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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher

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November 2021

November 2021

22 Nov 2021

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July/August 2021

July/August 2021

26 Jul 2021

Well, Peter Cuss was right.  The oak trees and hazel coppice had been completely stripped of all their leaves by the winter moth caterpillar. Four weeks on they have grown back with a vengeance. Now they have full, lush foliage with vivid bright green leaves, not an embattled response, but proving resilience and determination that they are alive and here to stay.

It has felt like that with the schools work.  Children and teachers have just wanted to be out of the classroom away from tired and familiar surroundings. Getting onto a coach with a journey to the foreign-to-many territory, the countryside, and a farm, has really been a breath of fresh air, and they have loved it, including the rain and mud, stinging nettles and hay fever. To be able to see ewes and their lambs, cows and calves feed, and even hold a chicken, learn about growing wheat and bread making. They donned waders and explored and measured the Pang, dipped the pond and used sweep nets to identify insects on field margins. They have dug holes to study the solid clays, gritty sands and fertile loams and discussed land use and rotations, organic and conventional farming.

The camps, mainly from schools in Reading, have been really enjoyable, with enthusiasm from children and teachers to make the most of being here.  They join in “command tasks” which are a fun way to develop leadership, self-confidence and mutual respect.  Then there is the walk to Bradfield along the Pang with its views across the valley, ducks and swans, the shadow of trees across the clear water and the noise of the river as it rushes through the old mill.  So they arrive for swimming at the College, and then a trailer ride back to Rushall. But that is not all because there is bivvy building, camp fires with marsh mallows, a barbeque, watching bats in the barn and being woken in the morning by a still noisy dawn chorus and lots more.

It is odd that we struggled so much during the last 12 plus months with fears that we would have to start all over again.  It hasn’t been like that, and since January we have continued to receive support from the government, and in addition from West Berkshire, two businesses and substantial donations from local people. There are a lot of tired and smiling faces as a result of this fantastic outpouring of generosity.

John Bishop