Pupils at a Suffolk primary school became business leaders for the day when they were handed a budget of more than £85,000 to choose which brand of telescopic handler a neighbouring farm should buy.
The youngsters were given a presentation on the role of the machine, the performance required, how dealers would provide service back-up and how to assess the three short-listed contenders’ quotes.
They were also given pictures of the machines, asked to think about their styling and overall appearance and were promised the telehandler they chose would be the one bought by the farm.
As a result of the evaluations by the 10 to 11-year-old Year Six pupils at Barnham Primary School, a JCB Loadall 531-70 Agri Super was bought by the Euston Estate. On the day it was delivered by local dealer G & J Peck, farm manager Matthew Hawthorne took the Loadall to the school for the pupils to admire before it was put to work.
Matthew said: “We haven’t had a JCB loader on the farm for many years but the Loadall’s design, styling and features put the machine ahead of its competitors – and I think being British built helped too. I’m very happy with the children’s choice – it has the edge on all-round visibility, it’s a lot quieter than the two other machines we considered, so it scores well on driver comfort, and it generally feels well built.
“This was a very interesting project that opened the eyes of pupils to the different factors involved in making an important purchase and got them working with some very large numbers,” he added. “I’m convinced more schools and farms could work together to the benefit of pupils from diverse backgrounds, who would understand more about what goes into food production while learning key skills.”
The new Loadall, which is built at JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire, can lift 3.1 tonnes and take a 2.4 tonne load to a height of 7 metres using its telescopic boom.
G & J Peck Director Jon Wareing said: “This was a wonderful project to be involved in and we are absolutely delighted the pupils chose the JCB Loadall 531-70 Agri Super for the farm to buy, particularly after they went into such great detail in arriving at their decision.”
Matthew Hawthorne is an enthusiastic advocate of schools using farms to bring maths, science and other subjects such as biology and food production to life. He has previously engaged pupils at Barnham Primary School with projects on growing sugar beet, woodland and coppicing management, and even practical comparisons of tractor performance and fuel consumption.
Matthew, who is the school’s chair of governors, said: “Agriculture involves maths and some aspects of science every single day, so what better place is there than a farm for youngsters to learn through practical hands-on projects.”
The new machine will handle a range of routine tasks such as loading bales and grain on the Euston Estate, which grows 1,700 acres of grain and oilseed crops, 1,000 acres of maize for a bio-digesting electricity generator, and 16,000 tonnes of sugar beet. It will also be engaged in forestry and general maintenance work.