The open day was considered a great success, with many visitors complimenting staff and students on the range of course displays, student ambassadors, careers information and good value attractions. The annual event, held in association with the Sussex Federation of Young Farmers’ clubs, attracted visitors from throughout the South East and overseas. The principal, Jeremy Kerswell said: “We thank everyone who came along to support the open day, including all visitors, exhibitors, sponsors and our staff and students. The event is always a superb way to showcase the incredible diversity of courses the college offers. Staff and students are very proud of their achievements and the result shows in the attractive estate, the impressive student facilities and our successful courses ensuring highly skilled graduates suitable for successful employment. I am also pleased to announce that Plumpton College has been awarded an ‘Outstanding in all areas’ grade following a recent Ofsted inspection into the residential provision. Inspector Joanne Vyas praised the exemplary care of the students, directly relating it to high student success rates and their good employability”.
The open day provides something to suit every visitor and is a great opportunity to demonstrate the work of the College through a variety of demonstrations, tours and activities, with every department represented offering course information, activities and careers advice. The land based sector has identified a need for nearly 600,000 young people to enter the profession within the next ten years. The college is pleased to welcome more students than ever from non-farming backgrounds, as well as a higher percentage of female students and those with excellent academic qualifications. The principal believes these students will be able to tackle the challenges ahead. The College has successfully introduced new courses and training programmes to cater for a highly skilled workforce to meet industry needs, including the Foundation Degree in Creative Metalworking, a Masters programme (MSc) in Viticulture and Oenology, (itself a unique post-graduate Degree within the UK) and the new Foundation Degree in Urban Horticulture, all attracting much interest.
Visitors at the open day sampled Plumpton Estate award-winning wines, wine tasting master classes and winery tours. The UK Wine Research Centre, which was opened by HRH, The Duchess of Cornwall, attracted much attention to discover both scientific aspects of wines and to purchase Plumpton Estate and a range of Alumni wines. The College is co-host of the first International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, 26-28 May. Plumpton College own produce included sales of cheese, ice cream, cakes, kindling, plants and Estate wines. Popular tours at the equine department included the stables and riding schools, the specialist carriage driving facilities, horse grooming, musical riding, lungeing displays, loose jumping, Shire horses and a ride on a mechanical horse. Students on the Rural Pathways programme offered sales of art work and exhibited their winning entry for the Jim Green competition.
Stunt bikers, sheep shearing by staff and students, falconry displays, children’s activities, a young farmers’ tug of war, classic cars, vintage steam engines, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Services and a busy crafts market by the Sussex Rural Business Centre attracted much attention. Students and staff at the animal management centre offered guided informative tours of the range of small animals, while the dog grooming unit provided practical demonstrations. The veterinary nurse training centre offered student information and displays including the range of continuous professional training courses. At the horticulture unit, visitors purchased plants including the College’s own ‘Plumpton King’ tomato variety and sought gardening advice from staff, with tours of the glasshouses, garden design and hard landscaping areas. The attractive landscaped grounds, display gardens and colourful horticultural displays delighted visitors. Horticulture students are completing their garden designs for competitions at the South of England show as well as Hampton Court Flower show.
The well-stocked machinery workshops offered imaginative student projects, many specialist vehicles, including a tractor with GPS satellite monitoring system and a welding competition. Working forges, jewellery-making and blacksmithing demonstrated silversmithing, metalsmithing and copper-work skills, with student portfolios registered for competition at the South of England show and a stand at the New Designers show in London. Motor vehicle operations displayed working vehicles on ramps and student competitions attracting much interest. Forestry demonstrations included pole climbing, firewood processing, sawmilling & woodland crafts, with sales of kindling wood to enhance the students’ commercial acumen.
The game department, situated past the large College farm, provided another attraction for visitors on the tractor/trailer rides. Students provided course information, with practical displays including course commercial contacts. Visitors took part in organised air rifle shooting. Fishery displays at the college farm included aquatic tanks, fly tying, rig making, information about the college fishing lake, electric fishing, seine netting equipment and students showing off their work throughout the year. Two of the world’s sixteen Master Butchers, Julien Pursglove, (technical manager, lamb, game & venison, meat, fish & poultry at Sainsbury’s) and Dave Smith, (senior accounts manager, APB group) visited the college to offer practical skills, industry advice and master classes in butchery skills at the large college farm with its specialist dairy.
Floristry department offered a timely ode to Shakespeare with a Midsummer’s night dream floral arch, a floral theme which also greeted visitors at the college reception. The adventure sports department offered many attractions, including a climbing tower, sailing dinghy simulator and kayaks. The department has extensive student facilities, including a sailing academy at Piddinghoe and an outdoor centre at Snowdonia. Staff and students from animal care courses held dog showing on the lawns, situated in the South Downs National Park. A range of children’s activities offered a story teller, a milk-a-cow, crafts and a smoothie-making bike. Forest school activities included wool carding and a leadership programme.
Plumpton College is a rural college, teaching a wide range of land-based courses to over 3,000 full time and part time students who come from far and wide, both within the UK and overseas and the growth opportunities are exciting. The college courses cover a wide range of land based vocational courses, training, apprenticeships, traineeships and internships programmes. The College is keen to constantly evolve their resources to meet the needs of the rapidly changing sector and have introduced dynamic and exciting ways to teach, within all study programmes. A strong teaching staff with extensive international, research and industry expertise complements the student support offered to teaching and learning study programmes.
Student provision includes accommodation on campus at the main college location in the centre of the South Downs National Park, a range of bursaries and loans, subsided transport within Sussex, pastoral provision and a lively social calendar.