Issue 8 2023

Issue 8 2023, Acquisition International | 7 Changing Students’ Lives Through Agriculture and Animal Care n 2000, Paula started her career as an ICT and business teacher, working at a large secondary school in Manchester. She quickly rose to become head of her department, taking on the responsibility of leading a team of eight professionals. Paula soon noticed a need for the provision of additional support to young people with special educational needs and disabilities. She was inspired to establish ARC in 2009, driven by desire to support students who are falling behind at school but who may eventually like to work in the farming or animal industries. ARC started as a community interest company but soon became a specialist independent school. Thanks to Paula’s hard work, the organisation has grown into a successful trauma informed centre that supports approximately 200 children from eight different local authorities. At ARC, students are given the opportunity to work with a large range of animals such as horses, alpacas, goats, sheep, rabbits, hens, and ducks, gaining hands-on experience in tasks like grooming, holding, and caring for them. Today, the centre is home to over 96 farming animals, employing a number of qualified animal experts to support their care. The ARC team also includes several educational and therapeutic professionals who support the students throughout their time at the centre. The team work to help the children regulate their behaviours and emotions, engaging with their school to organise a comprehensive reintegration package. The centre is proud that all of the young people it has worked with have successfully increased their attendance from as low as 0% to at least 90%. ARC also provides an alternative curriculum, through which it enables children to work towards obtaining qualifications in a large range of Agricultural and Horticultural studies that are useful for the animal and farming industries. The centre is AQA accredited to offer Unit Awards and is equipped with qualified staff who can support them through their studies in these topics. ARC’s staff can also help them learn Functional Skills and GCSE level content in Mathematics, English, Biology, and ICT. The centre will deliver the work that their school has planned for them to ensure that they reach their potential. During a typical week at ARC, students will spend mornings doing handson tasks, working with the animals, and studying for Unit Awards. They will also spend at least two afternoons working with qualified teachers or HTLAs on their numeracy and literacy skills, ranging from entry level up to GCSE standard. Those who are with the centre full time will spend one morning a week at their school, accompanied by ARC’s staff, as part of their re-integration plan. One to one support is also available for those who need it. Working closely with parents and schools, ARC helps students across Manchester to overcome challenges and re-engage with their education. The company has been especially successful with students who present with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, as well as ADHD, ASD, and learning disabilities. As a result of her passion for everything ARC does and her tireless energy to support children with various disabilities and difficulties, Paula Forth has been awarded Most Community-Focused Rural Education Centre Director, North West England, in the Influential Businesswoman Awards 2023. We congratulate Paula on this excellent achievement and look forward to seeing what the future holds for her and her team at ARC. Contact: Paula Forth Company: ARC Agricultural and Rural Centre The Agricultural and Rural Centre (ARC) provides struggling secondary school students with the opportunity to work in animal care and farming. The centre aims to help them regulate their emotions, re-engage with education, and discover an alternative curriculum through which they can gain qualifications in agriculture and horticulture. ARC was founded by Paula Forth, who has been named Most Community-Focused Rural Education Centre Director for her extraordinary work. I May23608