Peasenhall: Primary school’s piglet smallhold is welcomed by top education boss
09:00 08 March 2013
A SCHOOL that is rearing three pigs to help its pupils learn more about the origin of their food had a visit from one of the country’s top education chiefs.
As part of a wider tour Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, Schools Commissioner for England, dropped by Peasenhall Primary, near Saxmundham, yesterday. The school has just taken ownership of a trio of rare breed piglets that are a cross between a Berkshire and a Gloucester Old Spot.
Pupils will raise the animals before sending them off to the butcher, where they will enter the food chain - an outcome that has been thoroughly explained to the children. Although the project has received support from teachers, governors and parents there has been opposition from animal rights campaigners.
Teacher Sarah Brown said the aim was to help children understand the “provenance of food” and animal welfare.
“We felt it was important for children to learn about where their food comes from,” she said. “We live in a rural area and they are surrounded by fields that have animals in them that are being reared for consumption. We have had 100% support from parents. If that wasn’t the case then we wouldn’t be doing it. The children are all aware that the pigs are not pets but part of the food chain. They know what’s going to happen. We wanted that to be clear from the outset. All the children are from meat eating families. We don’t have any vegetarians at the school. Those were all issues that were discussed before we started the project.”
To ensure the highest levels of animal welfare the school will receive regular visits from an expert from the Suffolk Smallholders Society, while parents will also help rear the pigs. The children will use the piglets for learning across the curriculum from writing journals and drawing through to marketing the meat and coming up with their own recipes. They also learn that a broad and balanced diet may, at times, include meat, if you are not from a vegetarian or vegan family or follow a religious faith that prohibits the eating of some foods.
The smallhold project is run in conjunction with Suffolk-based community interest company Cook With Me Kids. Director Emma Haines said Dr Sidwell was very supportive of the idea. “She thought it was fabulous,” she said. “We would love to see it introduced in more schools.”
Dr Sidwell also stopped by Wickham Market Primary School to learn about its Early Bird Breakfast Club, which is being run in conjunction with Healthy Ambitions Suffolk and Cook With Me Kids.
She said: “It is essential that children have a good breakfast. As a headteacher, I saw that breakfast clubs can help to improve children’s attendance, concentration, motivation and promote healthy eating habits. That’s why initiatives like these are so important.”