Brand new Plastering Full-time Course

Furness College’s first ever full-time plastering students have been practising their new trade.

Young men and women aged from 16 upwards try their hand at dry lining, scratch coats, cement screeds, skimming and making moulds – a whole new experience outside the normal school or college class. On the way they gain an NVQ 1 or NVQ 2 and valuable experience that could lead to an apprenticeship or an advanced apprenticeship.

Some of the first intake of would-be plasterers have come off the dole to join the course, others joined straight from school. Robert Bower; 18, came straight from another course at Furness College. He said: “I’ve done a level one bricklaying course and came on this to tie in with it. I’m enjoying it. I would rather be at college than on the dole. After this I would like to be a general builder, plastering and labouring. I’ve done work with my uncle, labouring. I would have thought there would be some building work going on or some apprenticeships. And if not, I can always do my house up. My uncle, he can do conservatories and stuff and I would like to be able to do that, then you don’t have to fork out money for people to do it for you.”

Jade Ho, 26, has ideas about making a career for herself with more artistic aspects of plastering – creating her own individual designs out of plaster to add style to someone’s house.
“When I asked about the course they said it went into quite a depth. We will be learning about moulding and other old techniques like using house hair and lime. I thought it would be interesting to make your own designs, to look at symbolism, to be artistic. I looked it up on the internet and when you see what can be done – I thought it would be nice for kids’ bedrooms to have something different and I could maybe branch out on my own with it.”

Dan Grisdale, 27, got made redundant, not once but twice, and decided to get some qualifications.”After being laid off I thought it was time to get a decent trade. Ideally I would like to get off the dole and become a proper plasterer. I don’t like signing on – I’m sick of it. I have had my benefits suspended because of joining, but it’s still worth it. I am really enjoying it, just learning new things, and something that should stand me in good stead for the rest of my life.”
Louis Cochrane came straight from school at 16. He said: “I just applied for loads of courses and got a choice of painting and decorating or plastering. The plastering seemed better. It’s really good, I’m learning new things, something I have never done before. I would like to carry on the training into the second year, hopefully.”

Tutor assessor Colin Thompson is a builder who specialises in plastering. He designed the course, making sure it would give students a whole range of plastering skills as well as units in key skills, health and safety and core construction subjects. He also designed the timber frame construction that the students work on, honouring their skills. The frame was built by joinery staff at the college.
The course runs over either one or two years, for 36 weeks each year, and there is no age limit.
The students learn to draw what they want to create, measure the job and work out how much board they need, how much plaster and even how many nails there will be in the job.
A second year will teach them “the fancy stuff” – making dados, cutting a pattern to your own design or making your own running moulds.

The course came about after Colin met up with local companies who had identified a need for college training in plastering. Furness College director of 14-19 education Jane Ridyard said: “Colin teaches plastering at the college but is also an assessor so he goes round a lot of employers in the area assessing apprentices. Companies were saying they could do with students doing plastering. This was something we could deliver so we decided to put a full-time course together, as a result of the demand from employers.”

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