Meopham School young farmers Aidan and Alahna Atkins
A school farm is to close due to budget cuts – but the head teacher is determined to keep rural studies going.
Meopham School has had a small farm in its grounds for more than 30 years, with animals including rabbits, poultry, sheep and cattle.
The Wrotham Road school was given details of its budget from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) during the summer term - and it showed large savings needed to be made.
But when head teacher Matthew Munro believed it was all under control, the EFA came back during the summer holidays demanding further savings.
One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "My daughter chose this school specifically for the farm.
"It is the only school farm left in west Kent, and I know other parents who have moved to Meopham just so their children can go here.
"My daughter wants to go into veterinary nursing and hoped to get the qualifications she needed in Meopham to allow her study that at Hadlow College.
"The school told parents they needed to make £260,000 in savings initially but then the EFA slapped another £80,000 on top – and farm costs the most to run. It’s a huge disappointment."
Meopham School has had a farm in its grounds for more than 30 years
But all is not lost, according to Mr Munro.
A new project to set up a farm in the grounds of nearby Jeskyns park is under way, as many of the school's farm animals already graze and live on land in the woodland.
Mr Munro added: "We will create an Open Farmers Club for anybody to join, but with our students as the founding members.
"The plan is for this to be completed by the end of the academic year but we won’t be closing the school farm until the site at Jeskyns is ready to go, to ensure a smooth transition and allow our students to continue with their rural studies.
"I appreciate this is upsetting for all concerned, but I'm hopeful that out of this situation we will actually be able to create something even better for our students.
"Unfortunately, school farms all across the area have closed, including ones in Longfield and Wrotham. The only ones still surviving are the large self-sustaining farms, separate from schools."
Sheep and lambs are among the animals at the Meopham School farm