National Conference 2013 Back




THE GUILD OF BRICKLAYERS                                                                                                                                                      21st ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2012

Progressive Pedagogies versus Procrastination


Andrew Cainen PPGB opened the Guild of Bricklayers annual national conference at the CERAM Research centre in Stoke, having worked out what the conference title actually meant he went on to use this to provide a link between the needs of the trainees and the needs of the employers and in his opening expressed the importance of the training providers and their tutors in ensuring that these needs are met to guarantee the future success of the brickwork industry within construction.      


The key note speaker for the day Dr Geoffrey Edgel gave a presentation on the history of the CERAM Research Centre and of some of the projects that they have been involved with, which include testing stone on Portcullis House seen below which sits on the corner of Bridge Street and Victoria Embankment overlooking the River Thames. Sitting on top of the Jubilee Line and Westminster Tube Station Portcullis House provides offices to around a third of the members of parliament.    Some of the other projects include testing on the new cover for the sarcophagus at Chernobyl. In his summary of the work of Ceram MC Tony Tucker expressed the sense of pride on behalf of the UK construction sector that a UK company is at the forefront of such exciting projects.  


The workshops this year generated some stimulating pedagogical debate. In the workshop for promoting the use of interactive learning in the workshops and classrooms delegates discussed different approaches to their practice and it soon became apparent that no matter how defined a curriculum can be the methods of delivering raining are not the same in any two centres. What does become apparent is the dynamic innovation used at centres across the country in their delivery. It really is astounding that in its 2011/12 report Ofsted did not manage to find one provider that had outstanding teaching and learning and yet here we have bricklayers discussing the use of Augmented Reality (AR) the downloading of training videos using an app on a mobile phone (Demonstrated by Leigh Jakeman of South Staffordshire College) really does show how teaching has developed from my early days when the best tutors sharpened their stick of chalk before every session.


                                              Andy Gould of the local Reaseheath College attending his first Guild of Bricklayers Conference is seen here providing feedback on the workshop, impressed by the quality of the workshop and the quality of the debate with colleagues around his teaching Andy is already looking forward to next year’s conference.  In the second workshop Ian Roberts (City and Guilds) introduced delegates to the Brickwork units in the new qualifications due for launch in spring 2012. The plenary provided by Stefan Read and Kevin Harold suggested that the writing of these qualifications and the content was very good and that the language was excellent for both tutors and learners, both tutors suggested that these would be popular qualifications and look forward to seeing the assessment materials when the full launch is made.


Steve Southern from Swindon College is seen here providing feedback on the experiences of inspection workshop. Having been inspected the week of the conference and nervously looking at his phone for a message on the outcome Steve was excellently placed to support the discussion and provide an update on the expectations laid out in the New Inspection Framework (NIF). Again colleagues had an excellent opportunity to share their experiences of how different centres were working towards providing their evidence to inspectors and also for their self-assessment reports (SARs).



The fourth workshop provided delegates with the opportunity to observe the workshops and working labs of the CERAM Research Centre. Again Dr Edgell gave some in depth explanations of the experiments being conducted, his enthusiasm for his work no doubt a factor in helping CERAM to be successful and also in making the day so interesting for delegates at the conference. Of the many examples of the work in the labs were experiments on weathering of external cladding materials and strength tests on a range of materials including testing lintels to destruction.




The extensive testing facilities proved to be a real hit with delegates who were impressed with the range of work that Ceram is engaged in and also with the technology available that was observed during the tour. The picture below left sees Terry Coatsworh of Lincoln College who is seen explaining to David Anwar of Accrington and Rossendale how this sophisticated piece of apparatus can be used in the calculation of teacher’s pensions, while past president Dennis Westwood (Melchior) below managed to find this time machine, when we left him he was undecided whether to go backwards or forwards.




The afternoon session was inspired by Ian Roberts (City and Guilds) who gave an overview of the roll out of the new City and Guilds construction qualifications. Ian gave a transparent view of the inner working of City and Guilds and outlined the support materials that have been developed alongside the new qualifications by subject specialists to ease the burden on centre tutors and to support the progress of their candidates. Ian went on to describe how the teams of ‘subject specialists’ all current practitioners have come together with the teams at City and Guilds to prepare the qualifications for approval by OFQUAL and to prepare the assessment packages for on-line and written assessments, practical assessments and also to provide a range of qualification support materials to support the delivery. Another key point explained by Ian is how City and Guilds are developing their team of qualification consultants and the role of Ian and Paul as portfolio managers.



The days final session of the day was led by Paul Brown National Chair of the British Association of Construction Heads (BACH) who discussed the work the BACH carry out on behalf of colleagues working in construction. This was useful for colleagues to know how their own heads of department can join BACH and benefit from the lobbying of awarding bodies and funding agencies on their behalf and also to know that there is a support network available for managers to discuss the issues they face in centres. Paul said that only the day before he had been at a regional meeting in Sheffield where construction Heads of Department had been sharing ideas on planning and resourcing for the new learning programmes that will form the basis of the funding allocation in September 2013. Delegates were grateful for the time that Paul had made to support the conference only a week before the BACH week long national conference in Newcastle, members of the education committee wish Paul well in his year in office as Chair of BACH and with the national conference.