A farming family have been praised as “invaluable” for helping children in Dorset make a safe return to the classroom.
Stuart and Tessa Casely have been opening up the doors of Gore Farm, Sherborne to pupils whose education has been interrupted by the pandemic.
Youngsters at Trent Young’s CE Primary School have benefited from the learning opportunities offered by the farm, which is part of the Ernest Cook Trust educational charity.
But in the past months the 400-acre farm has become more crucial than ever, paving the way for the school to operate again thanks to the efforts of its farmers.
They have been hosting groups of children several times a week, freeing up space at the school to make social distancing easier – to the delight of the primary.
Sherril Atkins, headteacher at Trent Young’s CE Primary School, said: “The help from the Gore Farm Team has been invaluable in helping us deal with the challenges of the last few months.
“Not only has Gore Farm hosting a group of children each day enabled us to reduce risk by increasing the time the children are outside learning, but the activities have played a part in helping children settle back into school.
"Having the opportunity to learn about sustainability, farming and the countryside first-hand is also important," she said.
The farm is only a short walk from the school - located within the local learning area - so the partnership is within government guidelines.
And children who visit experience every aspect of the working farm, learning where their food comes from and how it is made.
Stuart Casely, of Gore Farm said: “By welcoming children back onto the farm we’ve helped the school create the space they need as well as continuing adding variety to their learning.
“We’re incredibly proud to have risen to this challenge to safely welcome back Trent Young’s School and maintain this really special aspect of the children’s education.”