‘Dig In’ gets thumbs up from teachers

Tuesday, 9 April, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has urged teachers to encourage their pupils’ natural curiosity about food and farming by using the UFU’s new schools resource. Speaking after the UFU's first involvement in the annual conference of the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) and NASUWT policy officer, Lorraine McKnight said the UFU’s message had been well received by teachers.

“Our Dig In education programme is tailored to fit in with the national curriculum.  It covers a number of areas including science, geography, mutual understanding and personal development.  It is a ready-made resource for teachers, and it gives children an educational and fun way to learn about what happens on farms.”

The ‘Dig In’ teaching resource has been a success and was rolled out initially to 250 primary schools right across Northern Ireland during May 2018.  The UFU is keen to build on that and used the conference to make contact with teachers and school principals to show them how well the resource could be incorporated into lesson plans in line with existing educational priorities.

“Our experience is that this is something children enjoy whether they attend an urban or rural based school.  It is important that people understand the countryside and farming, and that is less so today than when many families had links to relatives still involved in agriculture.  With this knowledge children are well placed to make objective decisions about diet and health, in an era when they get mixed messages about food due to the growth of the internet and social media,” said Ms McKnight.

The UFU is also encouraging teachers to take advantage of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend in June.  This will see 24 farms opening their gates to visitors from June 14th to 16th, with special provision at many for school groups. 

“This event is now firmly established within the UFU calendar. Last year it was a finalist in the annual Farming Life awards in the best promotional campaign or event category an achievement, which speaks volumes in terms of the value and scale by which Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is received amongst visitors.  We know from previous years that children, and adults, have found Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend to be very much a hands-on experience that is both educational and fun,” said Ms McKnight. 

Anyone interested in receiving further information on the UFU’s dedicated schools programme and/or Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is encouraged to contact Lorraine at UFU Headquarters via telephone number 028 9037 0222 or alternatively via e-mail at lmcknight@ufuhq.com.