Students at Manly West Public School are learning the art of chicken wrangling in a program designed to support student wellbeing.
Every lunchtime small groups of students, known as ‘Chicken Wranglers,’ descend on the school’s kitchen garden area to feed the chickens, check water levels and hunt for eggs.
The program was set up to link with the school’s broader student wellbeing program and encourages positive social behaviour and promotes a sense of belonging for students within the school community.
The Chicken Wranglers program has been running at Manly West Public School for almost five years.
Catherine Wyles, assistant principal, said the position of Chicken Wrangler was a highly sought-after role within the student body.
“The students show great enthusiasm for the program and look forward to their turn to participate,” she said.
“Our Year 2 students are looking forward to commencing training over the next few weeks.”
Being a Chicken Wrangler is a big responsibility with students in Year 2 and 3 trained by students in Year 5 and 6. The older students lead the younger students in a buddy system, which strengthens their confidence and leadership skills.
Once trained, students are presented with a badge to wear identifying them as an official ‘Chicken Wrangler’.
Seven chickens currently call Manly West Public home, roosting in a purpose-built chicken coop located within the expansive surrounds of the school’s Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden.
Fresh food scraps from the school canteen are used as chicken feed or garden compost and any eggs laid are offered to the canteen for school lunches.
Beyond the chicken coop, there are garden beds, a compost pit and worm farm, with Year 3 students responsible for planting and caring for vegetables, herbs and other plants. The garden is utilised during lessons across all areas of the curriculum and provides an immersive learning experience for the students.
Parents and community members often get involved with the garden and volunteer in tending to the chickens on weekends and during school holidays.