City of Bath College won the coveted ‘Further Education Oscar’ for its Living Classroom philosophy where students undertake skilled stonemasonry work under real conditions of heritage restoration work.
The ‘Living Classroom’ incorporates the restoration and conservation of the Grade II* Orangery at the Tyntesfield Estate in North Somerset, which was at risk of being lost forever. Students worked with the National Trust and specialist stone conservators, Nimbus Conservation, to totally transform the building in a three-year project. Level 3 students undertook the work whilst studying for the NVQ in Heritage Skills.
Stonemasonry students also participated in the on-going restoration of the 19th century Victorian Gothic Woodchester Mansion in the Cotswolds. The building boasts incredible architecture and its carvings are among the best in the world. Level 2 students completed the work whilst studying for their Stonemasonry Diploma.
Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said they were proud to be associated with an award that recognised excellence in practical teaching and learning.
She said: “The ‘Living Classroom’ initiative from City of Bath College demonstrates an excellent understanding of how to provide innovative delivery of high quality practical teaching and learning.
“The partnerships with heritage organisations and conservation companies give the student stonemasons first hand real world experience and access to experienced professionals and provide them with meaningful and challenging conservation projects to work on.
The presentation ceremony also saw Stonemasonry Lecturer Ray Sumner being awarded a Master Craftsman Certificate. He is one of only 11 people in the UK to be awarded the prestigious award for sharing his stonemasonry skills with others.