1st Annual ATF Conference, LANTRA House, Stoneleigh
Around 50 farriers gathered at LANTRA House in Stoneleigh Park to attend the 1st ATF Annual Conference organised and run by the Farrier Training Agency. Entitled ‘Together, Training and Developing Farriers of Tomorrow, Today’ the Conference Chaired by Training Advisory Committee Chairman, Cecil Swan RSS (Hons) covered a range of current subjects delivered by a host of guest speakers.
Craig D’Arcy DipWCF
Delegates were welcomed by Craig D’Arcy DipWCF, new President of the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers. Craig reminded delegates that all apprentices were members of the Association for the period of their apprenticeship which included the Helpline and reconciliation. Working closely with the FTA, the National Association is keen to promote and improve training within the industry.
Farrier Training Agency, Training Director Peter Ablett likened ‘knowledge and information like manure – no good unless you spread it around’! Hence the reason for the Conference!
Gail Dunn (Learning and Skills Network) has been working with the FTA for the past 5 months. The FTA is accountable to the Learning Skills Council (the source of funding) and has a contractual requirement under the Framework for Excellence. Gail endorsed the farriery apprenticeship scheme – the 90% completion rate was a ‘mark of excellence’.
As LANTRA Project Manager for Standards and Qualifications Jenny gave an insight into National Occupational Standards (NOS). Developing, maintaining and updating NOS is a constant process - after implementation, review is always necessary. Constructive input is always welcomed and delegates were encouraged to stay in regular contact with Jenny and the team at LANTRA/FTA. It was unanimous that the number of units to be covered should be kept to a minimum - -increasing the number of units is likely to further complicate the training and assessment process resulting in increased paperwork. In many cases additional units proposed were already covered in other units and perhaps amendments to these units would be more appropriate.
Industry Partner Manager, Lisa Jarvis introduced herself as key point of contact for ATFs. Reiterating Jenny’s sentiment that thoughts and suggestions are always welcome and that the setting of NOS is not a closed working process. Feedback from employers remains absolutely critical to the development of the qualification and all comments are listened to and taken on board.
Following a short coffee break delegates were shown a video, ‘Shift Happens’. (Click here to watch video). It is without a doubt that the world is evolving very quickly and then change is inevitable.
Brian Saunders AWCF
Brian, and his business partner Darren Bazin, have recently launched Know Foot Know Horse (www.knowfootknowhorse.com). A new concept in learning, the downloadable films are based on the NOS syllabus and forms a valuable training aid for the apprentices and qualified farriers. Brian welcomed feedback from ATFs and apprentices and confirmed that the site will be constantly updated with new films.
Continuing the theme of ‘e-learning’ Quality Manger at the FTA, Neville Higgins discussed the various forms in which e-learning is available. Learning can be supported and enhanced through a variety of mechanisms ranging from the internet or intranet to interactive whiteboards and virtual leaning environments to digital cameras and mobile and wireless communications. Their use is varied and may be utilised by the Field Officer, at college, in the work place and in training reviews. Moving it forward with the FTA, an E-learning Strategy is being put in place and will be coordinated by Vicki Davitt. Trials will begin at some point in the future with groups of ATFs, apprentices and colleges.
Kevin Willard, FWCF
Following a buffet lunch, Kevin invited ATFs to ‘mark’ shoes on display in the room. ATFs were advised of the year and college block that the shoe was intended for and asked to mark them accordingly. Following the assessment the actual marks and reasons for those marks were given. It is obviously essential that ATFs and colleges are expecting the same standards at each stage of the apprenticeship for appropriate training to given and the exercise proved very worthwhile.
Tim Whittington, DipWCF
A thought provoking case study from Tim described an accident he incurred as part of his job as a farrier. He suffered the trauma of losing a finger following a client deciding to pull her horse’s mane whilst he was cleaning its feet in preparation for shoeing. Tim was advised that the customer was indeed liable and could potentially be sued for compensation. The customer was not insured and, credibly, Tim decided to take no further action. Tim’s experience was a painful reminder to all farriers of the risks they take in their daily work. Tim now asks for all of his clients to have public liability insurance, which can easily be obtained from the BHS.
Provided an insight into Self Investing Pensions (SIPP). In the economic climate whereby pensions have lost a lot of money a SIPP was offered as a way of releasing some of that money to invest and potentially develop your business. Whilst SIPPs cannot be used for private properties and other restrictions apply they may certainly be a way of making money work better for you.
Andrew Poynton, FWCF
Known throughout the industry for the introduction of ‘Imprints’, Andrew acknowledged farriery as a traditional yet progressive industry. Boasting a golden heritage the art and science of farriery is constantly developing. In the UK Andrew acknowledged the most comprehensive training scheme in the world and congratulations should be given to farriers training apprenitces and working together to ‘raise the bar’.
Questions were invited from delegates to the panel of Simon Curtis FWCF HonAssocRCVS, Carl Bettison AWCF (Hons), David Symons FWCF (Hons), Kevin Willard FWCF and Peter Ablett. Topics raised included the proposal for quicker college feedback upon apprentice completion of a college block, the demand for farriers across the UK, the ATF shoemaking assessment to include shoeing, new ATFs to hold the WCF Associate examination and education regarding multi-farrier practises. All comments were discussed and noted and feedback will follow in the future.
Chairman of the FRC, Simon Curtis FWCF HonAssocRCVS provided a brief summary of the speakers from the day.
Acknowledgement was given to FTA staff, in particular Sarah Jane Millard, for the execution of the Conference. All delegates were well prepared and informed and the day ran seemlessly.