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Droylsden school scoops farming and environment honours

Droylsden’s Laurus Ryecroft has won the prestigious title of ‘Food, Farming and Natural Environment School of the Year 2021.’

The Food, Farming and Natural Environment School of the Year competition, launched by LEAF Education in 2018, aims to engage and inspire future generations about farming and food production through transformative and meaningful on-farm experiences.

It offers young people the chance to experience farming, bring them closer to how their food is produced, raise awareness of the role of farming in combating climate change and the career opportunities available in the sector.

Head of School at Laurus Ryecroft, Martin Vevers, said: “For us to win National Innovation School of the Year just goes to show how much our young people value sustainability in food production and are keen to learn more.”

Students from the school competed in a finals weekend against four other schools, the event staged at the Llysfasi college campus in north east Wales.

Students and staff worked with LEAF Education staff, college lecturers, the farm manager and industry experts to debate the motion: “Farming can become carbon neutral in the future.”

Students discussed this complex issue in detail and used their understanding and knowledge to present a response to the hypothesis, which they presented to a panel of judges.

The presentations were delivered with a clear passion and support for the farming industry.

They also demonstrated the grasp the students had gained of the issues and challenges facing the agriculture industry in its journey to net zero by 2040.

The weekend also saw pupils take part in hands-on activities, such as milking, tractor driving, habitat management, woodland management, lamb selection and soil analysis – all linked to efficient farm practices, including carbon sequestration and renewable energy.

Mr Vevers added: “Being involved with this competition has provided our students with opportunities they would not normally experience.

“To meet with inspirational speakers and to learn about sustainability in an academic and practical way is invaluable for them and us.”

LEAF Education Director of Education and Public Engagement, Carl Edwards, said: “Each school was more than worthy of their place in the final, but it was the group of students from Laurus Ryecroft that stood out the most.

“We were impressed by how they linked every experience they had to supporting their strong belief that the farming industry can become carbon neutral by 2040.

“Having had zero experience on farm before, the judges were amazed by how quickly and competently these three young adults understood what our industry is doing to tackle the climate crisis.”

Out of the 33 students who have taken part in the competition since its inception, more than a third (12) have gone on to apply to study at land-based colleges. All students reported that it had ‘positively changed their perception of the farming industry’ and that it had ‘helped them with their studies back at school’.

The other four finalists participating in the weekend were: William Howard School, Cumbria; The Market Bosworth School, Leicestershire; Pipers Corner School, Buckinghamshire; and Ysgol y Preseli, Pembrokeshire.

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