The Downs Malvern pupils are learning all about animals and farming, thanks to Headteacher Andy Nuttall’s initiative

Pupils at The Downs Malvern are welcoming a new cohort, thanks to Headteacher Andy Nuttall’s initiative to teach them about animals. The Worcestershire prep will soon be home to rare breed pigs and will ‘babysit’ sheep from a neighbouring farm. There are also plans to add geese and guinea fowl to the school flock – pupils already tend chickens and quails.

The Downs Malvern become farming folk
Pupils at The Downs Malvern already tend chickens and quails

With a background in Zoology, Andy Nuttall, who joined The Downs as Headmaster in May last year, has channelled his passion for the natural world to widen the scope of activities that are on offer for pupils at the school. “With 55 acres of land nestled into the Malvern Hills, we’re incredibly lucky to be surrounded by nature here at The Downs and the natural world is something that we actively encourage our pupils to engage with,” he says. “Whether that’s through what we call ‘outdoor adventure’ sessions, in our hobbies and activities or by getting involved with the animals that call the school home, we want our pupils to understand their world and their impact on it.”

The Head has chosen these larger animals to teach children important lessons about food provenance. Having also notified the Animal and Plant Health Agency and receiving the school’s herd number, he has been in touch with local breeders and has two young ‘gilts’ (young female pigs) lined up for the school smallholding. He favours rare breeds due to their relatively docile nature, slower growth rate and the important link to the heritage of the countryside. Once the fencing for the animals’ new home is in place, the pigs will be settled into their new surroundings.

“Our quails and chickens have proven to be incredibly popular members of The Downs community and teach the children important animal husbandry skills, he adds. “With the pigs, we will also be teaching them about ‘farm to fork’ so they understand more about how the food they eat gets on their plate.”

The Downs Malvern

Further reading: The King Alfred School on real-world learning