That is the view of Josh Payne, Education Manager for the National Farmers Union (NFU). A former primary school teacher, Josh tells Chris Biddle in the latest Inside Agri-Turf podcast that the best time to engage children’s interest in STEM subjects, demonstrated through the prism of farming, food and nutrition is during their very early school days. By the time they get to secondary school, many have developed pre-conceived ideas and opinions through a variety of external resources he says.
Very few small children will end up in agriculture, he added but each one of them will be consumers.
The application of science, technology, engineering and maths is best demonstrated by engaging children in practical projects which excite and engage, rather than in the classroom. The NFU have developed a range of resources for teachers which in its first full year reached over 250,000 primary school children.
Josh is joined on the podcast by Emma Foyle, currently Deputy Head of a primary school in Bournemouth who has over 30 years teaching experience who fully welcomes the NFU’s teacher support programme. We do not want all learning to be in pre-planned boxes, she says, there has to be a link to real life and hopefully also an opportunity to meet role models who can bring their industry to life.
Tractor in Schools has been a success in the past, but Josh says that like every other STEM subject, the tractor’s use and role on the farm has to be explained and put into context.