KENT LIFE HERITAGE FARM PARK WINS AWARD FOR INSPIRATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME
Kent Life Heritage Farm Park, near Maidstone, has picked up its third award of the year, this time in recognition of its education programme.
The popular family attraction, which is also a working farm, has won a Sandford Award, an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.
The award scheme is managed by the Heritage Education Trust in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. Judge Irene Davies, who assessed Kent Life’s education programme while observing schools that visited the site, said: “Kent Life Heritage Farm Park is a lovely little microcosm of Kent rural life. This is its unique feature and all the schools visiting on the day praised this and gave it as the reason for booking a visit.
“The atmosphere is relaxed with children working and playing happily. All aspects of country life, from the village to the farm, are easily accessible and the children can immerse themselves in the past.”
The judge’s report said Kent Life’s education programme contributed to an understanding of local heritage, with workshops such as Meet the Animals, Kitchen Garden, Sheep to Sock and Hopping in Kent showing children a direct link to what would have been happening on the site in the past and allowing them to see where food comes from.
The report also said that staff had worked hard to respond to changes in the National Curriculum, introducing a programme of themed days in consultation with regular school visitors and ‘making every effort to incorporate suggestions and new topics’ in response to teacher requests.
Teachers who spoke to the judge praised the site for being ‘safe and contained’ and ‘large enough for the children to see it as a farm and rural village but not too large to overwhelm them’. They also said that seeing animals being cared for and fruit and vegetables growing made it ‘a real experience of Kent rural life’. There was praise too for Kent Life’s ability to tailor visits to suit each school’s specific needs.
Judge Irene Davies added that Kent Life had made a ‘laudable attempt’ to meet the needs of local teachers with a series of workshops, many of which provided fun interaction for the children and reinforced the work done in class. She also highlighted the attraction’s ‘excellent welcome and orientation’ for visitors, its easy booking process, and ‘well organised management’ of groups.
Kent Life General Manager Dan Gooch said: “This is a wonderful achievement for Kent Life and all our staff. The Sandford Award is a ‘kite mark’ for high quality education provision which is recognised in schools and other education institutions across the UK. It’s national recognition of the wonderful contribution our staff make to enhancing children’s learning.”
This is the third award that Kent Life has won so far this year. In April, it was named winner in the Best Customer Service category at the prestigious Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2015, dubbed the Oscars of the museum world; and in June, it was named Attraction of the Year by its parent company, Continuum Attractions.
In the last two years it has also picked up gold at Tourism South East’s Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2012-13 for Outstanding Customer Service; a coveted Certificate of Excellence Award from TripAdvisor; and a ‘highly commended’ in the Best in Education category of the National Farm Attractions Network.
Kent Life has something to entertain all ages and generations. Kids can go wild in the outdoor adventure play area or soft indoor play barn, as well as enjoy donkey rides, a pottery studio, junior electric quads, tractor rides, dressing up, stilt walking and much more!
Kent Life, set in 28 acres of glorious countryside, is also a real working farm, so there are plenty of animals to see including pigs, sheep, ducks, goats and alpacas. Young visitors can even snuggle up to the smaller farmyard friends in Cuddle Corner. The attraction also has special events all year round so there’s always something to do, whatever the weather.
Kent Life is just off junction 6 of the M20 or only an hour by train from London. For full details visit www.kentlife.org.uk or call 01622 763936.