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Goldcliff Farm: A Haven of ‘Real Life’ Learning

Eddie and Elaine Ford, a husband-wife team, are championing practical skills that go beyond the classroom setting at their Goldcliff farm.
Eddie and Elaine Ford, a husband-wife team, are championing practical skills that go beyond the classroom setting at their Goldcliff farm.

Goldcliff Farm: A Haven of ‘Real Life’ Learning


Summary:

  • Goldcliff Farm near Newport revolutionizes education by offering practical skills outside traditional schooling through the WELLIES programme, spanning woodworking, gardening, and more.
  • Eddie and Elaine Ford, the driving force behind the initiative, help learners with behavioural challenges find solace and growth through hands-on tasks like animal care and driving, fostering a unique learning environment.
  • The farm’s self-funded education unit garners community support, collaborating with local businesses and charities to provide real-life experiences and opportunities for personal development beyond classroom walls.

 

In the quiet countryside near Newport, a family-run farm is breaking the mould of traditional education. Eddie and Elaine Ford, a husband-wife team, are championing practical skills that go beyond the classroom setting at their Goldcliff farm.

WELLIES—Work Experience on the Living Levels, Including Educational Support—is their brainchild, initially starting as an animal care programme. Over the past six years, it has blossomed into a hub for learning various hands-on skills. From woodworking and gardening to building and operating forklifts, visitors can explore a diverse array of practical abilities here.

Their reach extends far and wide, welcoming mental health groups, individuals with special educational needs, council services, and even Scout groups. The forest school area proves vital for Scout groups striving to achieve their night-out badge.

Eddie, 53, is passionate about using the farm’s activities to support other noble causes. Learners pitch in by crafting flower arrangements and planters for Langstone Vale Crematorium. Recently, they’ve constructed bases for Emma Webb’s plastic horse, aiding her charity walk to London, and a sleigh for Father Christmas’ joyous visit to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital.

Collaborations with groups like Pride in Pill, led by the esteemed Paul Murphy, winner of the Pride of Gwent Community Hero Award, showcase the farm’s commitment to community involvement.

It’s really rewarding because when some learners come to us, we’re told about behavioural problems,” explains Eddie.

But they get so immersed in what they’re doing, like the chance to drive or work with the animals, we don’t have problems on the farm.

“If that school doesn’t suit, this does.”

“We both went to British Sign Language classes which helps us to communicate with visitors,” he adds.

We also enjoy seeing the satisfaction of learners progressing at tasks they simply wouldn’t get the chance to do in an everyday school environment.”

The education unit is a self-sustaining venture, relying primarily on its own resources with occasional contributions from local businesses.

The community’s support shines through various avenues. The Glastonselfy Music Festival in Crosskeys rallies behind the cause, raising funds for a specialised wheelchair trailer. Meanwhile, Bworkz, a charity supporting veterans, collaborates to build an accessible apiary on-site.

We’re trying to get them to experience real life so they can reach their full potential in life,” Elaine emphasises.

At Goldcliff Farm, they firmly believe that not all learning happens within the confines of the four walls.

The farm stands as a testament to an unconventional yet impactful approach to education, nurturing skills that transcend textbooks and chalkboards and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for life’s practicalities.

 

 


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