8th November 2019

South Devon College has constructed a building for roofing students to develop their skills on.

The College has invested £20,000 in a two-storey, timber-framed workshop on its campus and paid £10,000 for permanent scaffolding to be erected, allowing ongoing access to the building’s roof.

The 20m long roof has been permanently closed boarded, felted and counter-battened and the pitch has been deliberately set at 350 so that students can hone their skills using a range of roofing materials, including slate, plain and Roman tiles, and single and double lap tiling.

At the rear of the workshop there’s scaffolding surrounding additional steelwork so that students can practice cutting a roof onto an extension. Meanwhile, the interior of the new workshop will be used by the college’s carpentry students.

Roofing lecturer, Steve Dowell explains the motivation behind the building investment: “We want to provide the best learning environment for our roofing students and this building gives them real-life, outside working experience. They can work at height fully supervised practising strip and reclaim techniques, installing a variety of roofing types.

“It’s all well and good training in a workshop, but we want to know that our students can stand alone whether working individually or as a team in this real-life environment. They have to read a method statement, organise materials and work together, just like they would on site.”

The real-life roof can be adjusted to accommodate a removable bolt-on dormer, chimney and a parapet wall for practising abutments. With industry support from Cupa Pizarras who are supplying slate and BMI Redland providing tiles, the roof can be stripped and reused time and again.

Steve says, “We’ve had brilliant support from across the industry, not least from Simon Dixon at NFRC who has been so enthusiastic and encouraging about the real-life rig.”

Steve continues, “The guys need the best real-life environment to train in and this provides a safe, realistic experience for them so that they feel confident on site. It really enhances our teaching. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from the students’ companies who know that their apprentices are getting the best possible training to make them site-ready.”

South Devon College has taken its latest roofing students on block release, rather than the day release arrangement they used to operate. As the only roofing college in the South West, students come from as far away as Cornwall as well as Devon, Somerset and Dorset, with most students staying in local hotels for the week, funded by CITB. This means they have plenty of time to devote to perfecting their roofing skills during their block release weeks.

Steve said, “I’m super-excited about this cohort of first-year roofing students. They are motivated and committed and often choose to come in early and go home late so that they can spend more time developing their skills. They’ve got really promising careers in roofing ahead of them.”

There will be an official launch of the real-life rig in February next year to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

If you’re interested in studying a course in roofing or want to upskill your workforce, why not go along to South Devon College’s next Open Event on Thursday 20th November 2019 from 4pm-7pm at the main campus on Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ. You can find more information by visiting southdevon.ac.uk, getting in touch with the Helpzone team by emailing [email protected] or calling them on 08000 380 123.


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