On Monday 3rd December, we welcomed the Leeds TV crew into Kirklees College, or more precisely the Taylor Hill campus where all the Animal Management courses are based. The aim of the day was to make a film all about life on the HNC in Animal Management. The added bonus was we got to meet lots of actual animals- something the GHWY team were pretty excited about!
Of course, every course has classroom-based elements, so that’s where we started. Even this wasn’t quite standard though, as not every classroom has a kestrel in it! The kestrel was merely visiting, with students having the opportunity to learn about the correct care and handling of birds of prey, building on their recent work experience at a specialist birds of prey centre. Work experience is an important part of the course throughout the year, as well as highlight trips that many of the students took part in during their BTEC National at the college. Past trips include a visit to a cat rescue group in Malta, and there are plans in the pipeline to visit a reserve in Africa. The Animal Management department does lots of fundraising for this in order to make sure that as many students as possible can take part. There are also plenty of opportunities to go on other smaller-scale animal-related visits.
Taylor Hill is one of Kirklees College’s specialist campuses, and if you didn’t know it was there you could easily drive past and miss it. However, once inside the facilities are amazing and the students were keen to show us everything. We visited the fish, small mammals, birds, reptiles and went outside in the rain to meet the goats, sheep and pigs. We saw the hands-on work students do with the animals who are kept at the centre, including health checks, cleaning out, administering worming tablets and hoof trimming to name just a few. The giant snake (which took 5 people to hold) got mixed reviews, but the albino hedgehog and attention-seeking parrot were much more warmly received. The cat, who was willing to be stroked even after he had had his worming and de-flea treatment caught on camera, was also pretty popular!
After a break in the campus café there was then the opportunity to interview both the staff and students about the Animal Management course. It was great to hear about the range of backgrounds that the students came from, including one who had started at BTEC Level 1 and worked their way up to the HNC and a parent who had returned to education after having children. They all clearly loved the course and in the future were keen to work with animals in some form, from working in zoos to following a family tradition of working in agriculture.
Animal Management tutor Anne describes herself as ’just a girl from Bristol’, and she whole-heartedly believes that her students can achieve just as much as she has, if not more. Her career path includes working at zoos in both the UK and overseas, gaining a degree and running projects and charity projects abroad. She sees no limits for her students, and small class sizes mean that she can tailor the course to what her students are interested. This might include making things more tropical or livestock-based etc. depending on what those particular students are interested in.
After a fantastic day, we now just have to wait to see what the final video looks like! It was great to spend the day exploring all that Kirklees College’s Taylor Hill campus has to offer, and I will certainly be finding reasons to go back.
Sian Bex, Higher Education Provider Outreach Officer at Kirklees College