Care farming, learning and young people : an exploration into the possible contribution of care farming to young people’s engagement with learning

Fell-Chambers, Rachael

February 2020

Thesis or dissertation

© 2020 Rachael Fell-Chambers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The aim of this study was to explore the possible contribution of care farming to young people’s engagement with learning. Firstly, the perceptions and experiences of young people accessing alternative curriculum on three care farms were gathered through a methodological approach underpinned by aspects of ethnography. Secondly, care farm providers and school support staff were consulted with to provide an understanding as to why young people attend care farms in England and to ascertain if they felt there were any perceived benefits to their learning.

The study positions its research within three care farm sites across England, all of whom offer alternative curriculum opportunities. Data were captured longitudinally during typical farming practices such as collecting eggs, sheep shearing and fencing to capture any naturally occurring evidence. Unstructured interviews, photo elicitation and semi-structured interviews were all triangulated with observational fieldwork notes.

Data yielded in this study found that care farms provide a nurturing and enabling learning environment for young people to self-discover and be free from the humiliation and frustration experienced, by some, in the traditional schooling system. The most significant finding was the compelling interplay between the care farm context, the natural environment and the values of informal education. The informal relational discourse, evident through triangulated data, synergised with the nature-based pedagogy and the multitude of learning contexts on a care farm. This, therefore, provided a catalyst for young people to learn practically, socially and introspectively.

Department of Education Studies, The University of Education
Hope, Max A.; Gormally, Sinéad, 1984-
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