Interview with Cody Smith, 15, from Milnthorpe
What course are you studying?
Construction (Brickwork) Level 1 & 2
Is College like you had expected. If not, why?
I thought they’d be a lot of assignments but the assessment in Brickwork is through practical tasks and multiple choice exams. Every wall you build you get either a pass, merit or distinction. Everyone works at their own pace and it’s a calm environment.
What do you most enjoy about College life?
There’s no detentions like school and you can have a laugh with the tutors and talk to them like you talk to friends. At school you’re told what to do, they can be strict and more serious, whereas at college it’s more relaxed and respectful.
Can you describe the course and what you do?
For the Brickwork course we have one theory lesson on Monday morning and the rest of the week is all practical. I also have lessons in Maths, English and PSD.
In the Level 1 course you build 13 types of walls, things like a chimney and cavity wall. You get a booklet that gives you all the measurements and you plan it out yourself. We use the 345 method (which uses Pythagoras) to work out right angles. We then draw the outline on the floor and use spirit levels to check the bricks are level. Instead of using cement we use lime that sets hard but that we can re-use.
I recently built an arch, which was a lot harder with a lot more cuts, which all had to be done by hand by using a chisel and hammer. I’ve now finished all the builds for Level 1 so I’ve started some Level 2 work, including this arch. I’m on track for a distinction for the Level 1.
What are you hoping to do after College?
I have been offered an apprenticeship place at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate. I’ve enjoyed the Brickwork course and am now undecided whether to go into Construction or Horticulture. I’m going to work with my brother as a trial over Easter, as he works in construction. I think I’ll come back to College to complete the Level 2 and 3 course, as it’s free when you are under 19. I can defer the apprenticeship place and do it in the future if I want to.
What would you say to people considering College?
Construction is totally different than the subjects you do in school. Some of my friends think they can go straight onto Level 2, but the subjects at school are totally different to Construction. You need to learn the basic technical skills before you can build some of the bigger and complex builds in Level 2 & 3.
This course gives you both the opportunity to gain paid work experience in construction (as it’s only 3 days a week) and gain the qualifications you need.
I’d definitely recommend College!