Borders College delivers sector-leading rural skills training to a wide range of individuals and organisations across the region. The Rural Skills department has excellent community and business partnerships and supports learners from all backgrounds to fulfil their potential.
Current focus areas for the department is sustainability, conservation and natural capital.
During lockdown, to support staff wellbeing and professional development, the rural skills team provided informative materials to encourage staff from all areas to get outdoors and engage with nature. Staff from the rural skills team are attending walk leader training so that in the future we can support lunchtime walking groups.
Conservation teaching is integrated across the range of rural skills subjects, and learners are signposted to conservation career paths or volunteering opportunities.
Examples of recent and planned rural projects include:
- Borders Red Squirrels project: students work as partners on this conservation activity at Spottiswoode Estate.
- College bees: bees have been introduced to the site at Newtown St Boswells campus, and students have an opportunity to be involved with beekeeping.
- Students and school pupils carry out small projects such as making bee boxes to create habitats for insects and wildlife both on campus and at partner sites.
- Campus redesign project: following a recent campus build project, senior college students have been working on a redesign of some outdoor space. Plans include making use of recycled materials and encouraging pollinators. Student plans and garden designs are complete, and in the next academic year landscaping and horticulture students will begin the practical elements of this project.
- Orchard planting project. Full-time students and school academy pupils planted a community orchard adjacent to Kelso Abbey.
- Tree planting projects: forestry schools academy pupils and full-time horticulture learners participate in tree planting projects in partnership with Borders Forest Trust.
- New Modern Agriculture group award at SCQF 5. This includes units on sustainable farming and technology.
- Estate Skills: staff deliver estate skills and training, incorporating sustainability and engaging with community partners.
- Newtown in Bloom: this is a mutually beneficial community partnership sharing resources, improving community spaces and encouraging pollinators.
- College landscaping students completed a playground landscaping project to encourage use of outdoor school space at a local primary school.
- Local communities and green recovery: the rural skills team are currently assessing interest in countryside skills training programme for volunteers and local community groups.
Conservation and natural capital are key themes for Borders College Rural Skills department now and in the future, as the team continue to focus regionally on green community recovery and engage globally with key stakeholder organisations, acting as ambassadors for sustainability and representing the colleges sector with a range of stakeholders.