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Diary of a head teacher Martin Johnson – Sacred Heart R.C. Primary School

The Urban Farm at Sacred Heart R.C. Primary School, Westhoughton, is central to their strategy to promote wellbeing and to reinforce communication centred learning across the curriculum. KS2 children apply to become farmers and stewards of creation, managing elements of the farm on a daily basis.

Martin Johnson, Head Teacher, describes their approach:

Our school has expanded over recent years, including major rebuild and refurbishment work. In 2010, with the appointment of an NQT whose specialism included outdoor learning and the global dimension, the time was ripe to develop further our outdoor spaces to provide a classroom without walls, where all curriculum areas could be developed and learning flourish.

Since the early days, where a living willow longship, for reading and role– play and scientific discovery, was built by Jason Bilinkewycz and his Y5 pupils, the school now runs structured outdoor learning (Willow Wanderers and oLé) sessions for all year groups, supporting elements of our curriculum map. Our school has an extended plot with a range of livestock and resources, many of them constructed by farm and site manager, and lead outdoor learning practitioner, Chris Simpson.

The urban farm is an integral part of our strategy to reinforce communication skills, and to promote our vision of stewardship. It is the ‘silent’ teaching assistant for every class, and the venue for much of our forest school activity.

The Room2Grow farmyard is home to a range of allotment beds, greenhouse, outdoor classroom, peace plot, sensory garden, habitat, the coop, croft and pond–dipping areas. The pavilion– barn covers an outdoor piano, used for tinkering at break–times, and the whole space is home to our sheep, goats, cats, rabbits, guinea–pigs, chickens, Muscovy ducks, Indian Runner ducks and call ducks. A Tamworth pig is soon to join us in the farmyard, and the children are busily preparing for her arrival, researching the requirements needed to keep a pig.

Our school cats, Squirrel, Magpie and Hercules are firm favourites, with Squirrel being a popular reading buddy for our less–keen readers, and the rabbits and guinea pigs helping our Reception children settle into school amidst the trauma of leaving their parents.

The urban farm is an integral part of our strategy to reinforce communication skills, and to promote our vision of stewardship.


Our animals are cared for by our Farmers and Stewards of Creation – KS2 children trained to take a leading role in helping us care for our common home, entrusted to us by the Creator.

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