"My son started Year 8 a few months ago and was receiving detentions almost daily, a very disappointing and frustrating start. This was doubly difficult given he is in top set for all subjects with great ability to do very well in school. He was acting out at home and in conflict with me and his dad. I felt like I was losing him already.
(His) inclusion in Jamie's farm was a real turning point. He came back just full of stories about his experience and really happy and proud of himself. It was truly heart warming. Although it's only been a week since he returned he's had one detention for lateness which is an incredible turn around. He is talking more and I'm excited and hopeful for the future. That means a lot !!
A very happy parent, with many thanks "
Over the last year, we have supported selected students at the school to attend Jamie's Farm, whose farm-based programmes support vulnerable young people who are at risk of social or academic exclusion.
Twelve students at a time, accompanied by three KAA teachers, attend one of their five-day residentials during the school holidays. In a homely and welcoming environment, farming, family and therapy are uniquely combined to improve young people’s mental well-being and self-esteem, engagement with education, behaviour and essential life skills.
During the residential, young people are involved with the daily running of a rural livestock farm and work to complete real jobs with tangible outcomes. The five days are abundant in enriching and fulfilling activities including preparing and cooking meals, feeding animals, cleaning pens, daily hiking, lambing, arts and crafts, log chopping. And despite not having access to their phones or any ‘junk’ food, teachers report that these fast become distant memories!
Alongside this, our students benefit from a flexible programme of one-to-one and group reflective sessions, supporting them to vocalise rather than act out their challenges, and develop new positive patterns to carry forward into home and school life. After the residentials the Jamie’s Farm team also carry out follow up visits, and our own teachers hold a monthly group for Jamie’s Farm ‘graduates’ in order to ensure positive changes are sustained.
Students who are selected face a range of complex challenges at home, including child protection issues, being young carers, bereavement, exposure to poverty, and risk of gang violence. A number of the students have been personally affected by Grenfell. These issues manifest in the form of challenging behaviour, poor attendance, low self-esteem, low attainment and in some cases, the risk of being permanently excluded from mainstream education.
The almost unanimous reports from teachers, families and the students themselves are that the Jamie's Farm experience has a transformative impact on even the most hard-to-reach students. KAA's Principal David Benson says:
"Jamie's Farm has proved to be one of the most beneficial interventions our students experience. Staff provide exceptional mentoring to some of our most vulnerable students and we have seen amazing development in their self-esteem, attainment and behaviour following their residential trips.”
How you can help
In the past, this programme has been funded by private donations, as the cost of the trips are simply not possible within the school budget.
Teachers have told us that they have a long list of students who they believe would benefit greatly from this experience.
We are inviting donations to fund a Jamie's Farm residential for 12 more young people in February 2020. One residential costs £6,000. This includes:
- Full costs of the immersive 5-day programme for 12 young people and three teachers
- Transport costs
Your support will have a huge impact on the lives and futures of some of our most vulnerable students.
Please dig deep - thank you!