Askham Bryan College
By Laurence Gale MSc
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an editor for Pitchcare is having the opportunity to meet and see so many interesting and knowledgeable people.
The success of any sports facility is largely due to and dependent on the qualities and knowledge of certain individuals or teams of people. Education and training is a key component to increasing the awareness and skill level of individuals who are working in the sports turf industry. To that end there are a number of colleges and training establishments in the UK that offer a wide range of qualifications for the turf grass industry.
Steve has been in the post for ten years and oversees the course work and lecturing for a number of sports turf programmes ranging from NVQ level 2, and 3, and HNC/HND sports turf management. The college currently caters for around 150 students registered on these programmes, with approximately 800 students on horticultural courses.
The college is set in 65 acres of grounds offering a wide range of facilities. The college not only provides sports turf courses but also has a large selection of other disciplines in horticulture, agriculture, animal care, equine management, engineering and business studies. Steve and his colleague Nic Bisset are responsible for delivering all the sports turf courses at the college. Steve also teaches surveying and AutoCad. He said it was disappointing and worrying that some people in the industry still do not use equipment such as automatic levels for work on drainage or construction and are still seen putting in drains using spirit levels.
The full-time students had recently completed some autumn renovations on the golf facilities. They had the opportunity to see and use the new SISIS Aer-Aid System on the golf greens. This was followed by scarifying, top dressing and seeding operations. The fairways had been aerated with a Blec Machine.
The college also trains students in the use of pesticides providing courses and training certificates for PA1, PA2 and PA6. However, the college has not, in the last ten years, used any pesticides to control pests and diseases on any of their amenity and turf grass facilities. It has been based on a policy of environmental and cost issues. Steve said that they had very little disease with only a few small outbreaks of fusarium and red thread, which were used as teaching aids, enabling the students to see and recognise these diseases.
The college is currently changing some of the courses in conjunction with Leeds University. There has been a change in the NDH programme and, as from next year, the college will be running the Sports Foundation degrees. The part time education courses for the turf grass industry currently operating are the work based NVQ level qualifications beginning with NVQ 2, moving to NVQ3 and also the Sportsturf Technical Certificate. The full-time education programme is HND and, as from next year, the new Foundation Degree will start.
Steve himself is continuing to improve his own understanding of the industry, he has recently completed and passed his MSc in Sports Surface technology at Cranfield University.
Some of the students from the college have already made their mark on the industry with a couple of them obtaining scholarships to work in America and Australia. This experience has enabled one of the students to secure a post at the famous K club in Ireland, and another is currently involved in the construction of a new golf facility in the Bahamas.
The future can be bright and rewarding for those who choose to combine education and training with their desire to work in the sports turf industry.
For further information about the courses on offer at Askham Bryan or to pick up a prospectus you can contact the college at:-
Askham Bryan College,
Tel: 01904 772277
Web Site Address www.askham-bryan.ac.uk/