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Woolly Arrivals

Chipping Campden School has been awash with woolly wonders this spring with the arrival of eight Cotswold Longwool lambs over the last 14 days.

These rare breed lambs have been born on the school farm which is run as part of the rural science or ELBS curriculum, short for environmental & land-based science. This hands-on subject is offered as an option for all students and taught to GCSE level.

The new-borns have come from seven ewes that make up a demonstration flock which has been at school since 2007. The flock - which at one point numbered 27 animals - originally descended from two ewes and standing lambs purchased from well-known Cotswold farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson.

Students participate in all aspects of animal husbandry from weighing and measuring the lambs, docking tails, bottle and tube feeding where necessary, and general looking after them and their mothers.

This distinctive breed of Longwool was introduced into the country by the Romans, and their wool played a major role in the development of many Cotswold towns and villages including Chipping Campden.

Their wool, known as the ‘Golden Fleece’ was an important export and played a major role in the wealth and prosperity of the district and nation as a whole. The fifteenth century founder of Chipping Campden School was in fact a wealthy wool merchant that left money in his will to establish a school for boys.

The farm here at Chipping Campden School is one of over 110 in the country that is part of a UK-wide organisation called the School Farms Network which is chaired by our Teacher of ELBS, Mr Carr.

He said: “As a species, humankind has been looking after crops and animals for millennia. It’s hard-wired into us. I believe it is extremely good for young people to understand where their food comes from. The look on the students’ faces when they are interacting with the animals is priceless.”

He adds that as a nation, the country is annually short of some 6,000 agricultural and horticultural workers, so he feels that the work of the school farm is vital in order to inspire a future generation of farmers.

As well as the flock of sheep, the school farm also has an allotment where students help grow crops for the school canteen, a couple of dozen rare breed hens which supply staff with fresh eggs, and last year it raised three Gloucester Old Spot cross-bred hogs for the food chain. It also bottles its own fresh-pressed apple juice from a three acre orchard which is currently being sold from the Noel Arms Hotel.

The origin of teaching rural sciences at Chipping Campden School goes back to the Second World War ‘dig for victory’ campaign and probably before that as when Mr Carr first arrived, he says found school text books on agriculture from 1917 in the classroom!

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