IT COULD be the coming of the moo millennium. The National Union of Farmers wants 2000 to herald a new era in children's understanding of the countryside.
This year the union will attempt to persuade 2,000 teachers of the curricular value of the farmyard, through a series of nationwide seminars with farmers.
Research in 1993 revealed that only 12 per cent of primary schools had visited a farm. But the NFU says that, following its campaigns, that is up to 48 per cent.
NFU education consultant Jill Clay, co-ordinator of the Millennium Education Initiative, said: "A recent MORI survey showed gaps in children's bsic knowledge. Half the children surveyed thought margarine comes from cows and nearly a quarter did not know that ham comes from pigs.
"Children who visit a farm or nursery can achieve a host of curriculum targets."
The campaign kicked off this week with the first of 11 national seminars for teachers. There will also be 106 regional seminars.
But Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, warned that schools would struggle to find time for visits. "It's another example of a bright idea not having been properly thought through," he said.