South Devon College Provides Real-Life Roofing Training

IN A ROOFING COLLEGE first, South Devon College has constructed a real-life 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 100m roof.

The 20-metre 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.

Best learning environment

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 on site.”

Roofing industry support

The real-life roof can be adjusted to accommodate a removable bolt-on dormer, chimney and a parapet wall for practising abutments. And, 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.



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