Education, Education, Education.

Education of the origins of food, how it is produced and how everyone can benefit from healthily grown produce is at the core of the Newbury and District Agricultural Society’s aim to educate.The Education Officer of the Society, Jan Murray, is responsible for a calendar of events either visiting schools, inviting schools to events on the showground or running demonstrations and competitions at local venues.

There is no cost to schools for any part of the Education programme and for more details of any of the projects and to make a booking, contact Jan on

The Society has been awarded a Business Ambassador Award, given by the Education Business Partnership at West Berkshire Council. This recognises businesses, individuals and organisations who give their time and expertise to support students to develop aspirations and employability. Education at the society was shortlisted in the national Bayer/FACE awards category for 'Inspiring Educator' 2015.

The Education Marquee at the Royal County of Berkshire Show

Each year Pre-schools, Primary, Secondary, Mainstream and Special Schools across Berkshire are invited to exhibit in the Education tent at the Royal County of Berkshire Show. Schools can book one or two trestle tables and choose to exhibit high quality work or display to the competition theme of “Work Outside the Classroom” or “Environmental Artwork”, (secondary schools only). Displays have to be assembled day before the Show and the Society Vice Chair and the President Elect judge the competition entries under the guidance of the Chair of the Education committee. Prizes are awarded to the winning schools. There is no cost to display in the tent, which is sponsored by John Nike and schools receive two complimentary tickets for the Show when they display. Places need to be booked in advance with the Education Officer. Schools are also invited to bring along a group of students to perform over the weekend of the Show or at the President’s Tea Party which is held at 4.00pm the evening before the Show. In 2016 the winner of the “Work Outside the Classroom” competition was Robert Sandilands Primary School and “Environmental Artwork” was Kennet School.

Outdoor Themed Days at the Showground

A day tailored to a theme of your choice on the showground can be arranged and led by the Education Officer. Themes on offer range from orienteering to team building, colour, senses, plants, minibeasts, natural/manmade etc. The showground is a vast but safely contained area and a great environment for an outdoor classroom.

Cookery School

Cookery School is an exciting opportunity for secondary schools. Four practical sessions using locally sourced in season produce are based at the school and spread over an academic year, with the fifth session a farm visit to see where the produce comes from and how it is grown. Cookery School is free and can fit into your school timetable, taking place during lessons, lunchtimes or after school. However, at the present time it is fully subscribed and a waiting list is in place. The farms currently supporting Cookery School are Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Peterley Manor Farm, Cobbs Farm, Fielders Farm Shop and Hare Hatch Sheeplands.

Farming, Environment and Sustainability Challenge

This Challenge is aimed at mainstream secondary aged pupils and the final is held each year in June. The previous September a launch meeting is held at the showground where schools can discuss their ideas before being linked with an appropriate business to work on a challenge over two terms with an outcome which will benefit the business. At the Final in the Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury, teams of up to 6 students set up a display of evidence and the judges, (Chairman and President of the Society with the General Manager and Chair of the Education committee), will informally talk to the students about their challenge. After a buffet lunch the teams give a formal presentation of up to 10 minutes. After deliberation trophies and prize monies of £200 and £100 are awarded to the winner and runner up and each participating school receives £100 towards their costs. The schools winning trophies are invited to attend a presentation on the Sunday morning of the County Show in the President’s enclosure.
In 2016 the winner of the challenge was Kennet School who worked with The English Provender Company on designing some summer chutneys. The runners up were The Downs School who spoke passionately about making jams from hedgerow fruits as a way of preserving endangered hedgerows.

"Shake Up Your Wake Up" Breakfast Workshops

Each year the Society offers breakfast workshops to support and coincide with the HCGA Breakfast Project "Shake Up Your Wake Up", which promotes breakfast as the most important meal of the day. The workshops are suitable for the Primary age range and last a morning for up to around 30 pupils. The workshop begins with a demonstration of porridge and breakfast smoothies with tastings, followed by some breakfast themed games. A talk using Buttercup comes next and finally the pupils plant breakfast cereal crops – oats, wheat and barley.

In 2018 these workshops are running for three weeks commencing January 15th, a total of 15 workshops. These workshops are always very popular so contact Jan if you would like to reserve one.

Meet the animals

The Society has three wooden animals that can be booked for school visits.
Buttercup, the milking cow is used to educate young people where milk comes from and a visit includes a talk appropriate to the age of the pupils and the opportunity to milk her. For pre-school and KS1 the talk is the story of milk from cow to shops, for years 3/4 the focus is on Rights and Needs and year s 5/6 are introduced to the processes that milk undergoes before consumption, including the story of Louis Pasteur and pasteurization.

Clover the goat is another animal which the pupils get to milk and also included with a visit is the opportunity to taste goat’s cheese.

Rasher the Berkshire pig is a starting point for a talk on where sausages come from and how all of the pig is used. A visit includes a sausage making demonstration and a plate of freshly made sausages for the school to cook.

Early November is British Sausage Week and to support this the Society runs sausage workshops which last about one hour and are suitable for a class of up to around 30 pupils. The workshop includes information about the history of sausages and sausage facts as well as blind tasting of pork and vegetarian sausages. A talk on Rasher the wooden pig is included as well as a sausage making demonstration. In 2017 workshops are being offered during the week beginning October 30th. Bookings can be made now with the Education Officer.

Potato Challenge for Schools

Each January Primary schools are invited to register with the Potato Council for their free potato growing kits and then come along to a Planting day in March either at the showground or Langley Academy where they will have a talk on growing potatoes before planting their seed potatoes in grow bags to take back to school to grow on, a demonstration of making potato salad with tastings, the opportunity to learn about the importance of smell when tasting, with a blind potato crisp experiment and the chance to decorate their own potato cake.
In June the schools are invited to bring back their grow bags to harvest after making their own individual potato salad. Prizes are awarded to the heaviest yields.
The dates for 2017 are: planting on March 13th at the showground and 14th March at Langley Academy, and then harvesting on June 19th at the showground and 20th June at Langley Academy. Any school who would like to take part but has difficulty making both days are invited to plant at school and then come along to the harvesting day only.
The winners of the challenge in 2016 were Robert Sandilands Primary and Parlaunt Primary Academy.

Autumn Harvest Celebration

Each October two days are held celebrating the best of home grown autumn produce, at the showground and at Wellington College. The day consists of a series of activities in the morning: apple bobbing, the story of Johnny Appleseed, a talk and tasting of English apple varieties, a close examination of seasonal vegetables, including squashes and pumpkins, a demonstration and tastings of apple crumble and pumpkin soup and the opportunity to create an individual autumn collage. After lunch the weighing is held of school grown pumpkins and prizes are awarded for the heaviest specimens. In 2016 the heaviest pumpkins were grown by Garland Junior School and St Anthony's Primary School. This project will be running again in October 2017 at the showground and at Wellington College.
Please contact the Education Officer if you would like to register interest.

Ploughing Match Competitions

Each October the Society hold a Ploughing Match and schools and youth groups are invited to enter any of the competitions being run for schools - scarecrows, kites and autumn collages. Entries must be delivered to the showground by the day before at the latest and collected from there after the event or by prior arrangement entries for the scarecrow competition can be collected directly from the school and returned after the event. Prizes are awarded for 1st – 4th place.
In 2016 the Ploughing Match was held at Sulhamstead Farm on October 15th. There were lots of competition entries and the worthy winning scarecrow was 'Herby', which was made by the Gardening Club at Loddon Primary School.

Agricultural Challenge for Special Education

Around the end of April or early May the Final of the Agricultural Challenge for Special Education is held in the Carnarvon Suite, Mary Hare School Newbury. This follows two terms of the participating schools working on a series of activities agreed upon the previous summer. Schools can enter up to 5 categories from the agreed list and on the day can bring along a team of up to 9 students. Certificates are awarded to all of the participating students and certificates are also awarded to the winner of each category. Trophies are awarded to the “Best in Show” and the two runners up and each school receives a cheque for £100 towards any costs, with additional prize money of £100 to the winning school and £75 and £50 for the runners up.
In 2017 the categories were:
• A collage on the theme of the seaside
• A cookery class – something made with chocolate
• A feeding station for birds made from recycled materials
• A gardeners calendar for 2017 featuring photos of things growing in the school garden
• Grow and plant up a herb planter - the planter can be homemade or bought
• A country craft task - e.g. weaving, felting, rug making etc.
• A garden themed board game

Details of the 2018 challenge, including the date and venue, will appear here later in the year.

The Final for 2017 was held on Thursday 27th April in the ArlingtonArts Centre at Mary Hare School.
The winning school in 2017 was Kennel Lane School with Addington School, Mary Hare Primary School runners up. Please contact the Education Officer, Jan Murray if you would like to participate: