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RCI January 2018

PITCHED ROOFING Leeds College of Building’s roofing and tiling lecturer David Mallory on hard work, punctuation and giving every student his personal mobile number 07:00 I’m definitely a morning person. I get up at ten past six and I like to get into college at seven so that I can prepare properly for the day. Each group I teach has their own course file and I like to make sure that all the paperwork is up-to-date. I have been a roofing and tiling lecturer for 15 years. I started off, like my students, as an apprentice roofer and worked up to running my own company. One day I had been arguing with a customer who didn’t want to pay me, when I saw a job as a roofing lecturer advertised and decided to apply. I got that job and haven’t looked back. At first, I worked part-time as a lecturer, part-time as a roofer but now I teach full time. Very occasionally, a friend from the industry will need a difficult detail doing and I’ll help him out with that. Most of my time is spent teaching in the workshop or the classroom. I also have an increasing workload of admin, including marking assignments, updating records, and communicating with employers and managing agents such as CITB. Part of my job now is to correct my students’ spelling, punctuation and grammar when I’m marking written work. Around 70% of the apprentices who come to us don’t have GCSEs in English and Maths so they will have lessons in those subjects too, once a week. 09:00 Workshop sessions start. Some days we will have four one-and-a-half hour sessions in the workshop, on others we have two sessions with the rest spent in the class room. I take a register, give a little tool box talk on any changes that have taken place in the workshop, any PPE they need and what else is going on. If students don’t turn up, I have to chase them. Funny how their phones are often turned off when I call them…. My three groups of apprentices are all employed full-time and come to us in two-week-long blocks. As well as teaching them in college, I visit them on site to assess the work that they are doing with their employer. There are 12 students in my first-year group and 17 in my second-year group, both working towards their Level 2 C-Skills qualification. I also have 11 students studying for a third year to get a Level 3 qualification. My colleague Chris also has groups of first and second-year students. Most students are aged between 16 and 24. After that there is no grant support for apprentices. I do have one student who is 49 who has been working in construction for a while and wants to train himself up. 10:30 We break for 15 minutes, and then it’s back to the workshop. The apprentices all must work through 22 projects over two years that will help give them the skills to deal with all tiles, slates and plain tiles. The college has good links with several 074 JANUARY 2018 RCIMAG.COM manufacturers who supply us with their products. It’s important that the apprentices get to work with different systems and understand that no two products are fixed in the same way so they must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. All the apprentices will be at different stages of different projects, depending on their skill level, their previous experience and their level of motivation. In any group, there will be the full spectrum of commitment from those that are eager to learn as much as possible to those that wish they weren’t there at all. For those that are keen and finish more quickly, I give them extra projects to challenge them and keep them interested. Every year we put our most talented apprentices forward to compete in the SkillBuild competition. Last year we had two brothers winning gold and bronze in the finals in Birmingham, which was a proud moment for the College. I was also proud when one of my students was one of ten finalists in Redland’s Apprentice of the Year Competition last year. This is a bit different from SkillBuild in that the apprentices have to submit a written entry, and the two-day competition involves a range of activities, not just practical roofing skills. At the college, the help and support we receive from Redland is hugely appreciated. The donation of materials, for example, enables the trainees to not only encounter new and varied products and materials; but also the chance to experience new installation techniques. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is seeing the apprentices master new skills. For instance, I force them to use hand cutters rather than the petrol ones they use on site. At first, they moan and groan because they are more difficult to use but by the middle of a valley they are getting it right. It’s great to see the satisfaction on their faces. We are lucky to have really good workshop facilities at the Hunslet Campus. It was purposebuilt two years ago and there’s a second building under construction next door. The College hopes to secure a third plot adjacent to that which will bring all our three campuses into one location. 13:00 In the afternoon, we may continue in the workshop or have sessions in the classroom. Before we start a project in the workshop, I like to give the apprentices an overview of what we will be doing. They may only have worked with one manufacturer’s systems or on one site so they often don’t appreciate that there are different ways of doing things With any new group of students, I always put my mobile number on the board and tell them to ring me if they need any advice or information. I get calls from lots of former students, years after they’ve left college, who are on a job and need to know how to do something. I’m always happy to help. One thing I always ask now, though, is that they call during working hours. That’s because I once received a call at 2am from a student who had been out celebrating gaining his qualifications and was calling to tell me how great I was. When students are enthusiastic, my job is easy, but as a lecturer you have to appreciate that some of the students will be challenging. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. They often don’t have any support at home. The best piece of advice I ever had was from a manager and mentor during the early part of my teaching career, Chris Ferguson, who’s now retired. He said “Don’t back them into a corner. Always give them a way out.” 16:00 The end of my day. I have two daughters, aged nine and 12, and I spend as much time as I can with them and my wife. We do outdoor activities like biking and camping and until recently I’ve been volunteering with my daughter’s scout group, first as a parent helper then as a scout leader. My students wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I was presented with a certificate at the 2017 End of Year Awards for being the scout leader most likely to say the phrase “It’s your time you are wasting.” I enjoyed my first career in roofing. It was all I ever wanted to do, even when teachers tried to discourage me because construction was only for the “bad lads”. If I could tell my younger self anything, I’d want to warn myself just how hard it was going to be. The roofing is the easy part, it’s all the other things related to running a business, dealing with customers and the taxman and getting paid that’s difficult.” The life of a lecturer David Mallory, Leeds College of Building “When students are enthusiastic, my job is easy, but as a lecturer you have to appreciate that some of the students will be challenging. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them” “I enjoyed my first career in roofing. It was all I ever wanted to do, even when teachers tried to discourage me because construction was only for the ‘bad lads’”


RCI January 2018
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