Reaseheath bake-off competition hots up

Entries are streaming in for Reaseheath College’s Year 9 Schools Bake Off Competition.

The first heat of the cooking challenge is well under way, with teams of pupils from 42 secondary schools throughout Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Wirral and mid Wales making final touches to their tasty treats before submitting their ideas before the December 6 deadline. Kings Grove School, Crewe, and Sandbach High School are among local schools who are actively involved.

The schools can enter up to three teams of pupils which must produce a savoury or sweet cake or pastry with a Royal theme. The pupils must put forward their concept on a mood board, backed up by photos of the finished product. Their work will be judged by a panel of Reaseheath food technologists, with marks awarded for presentation and appearance.

The semi finalists will have to reproduce their product in school early in the New Year under the watchful eye of another Reaseheath panel. The finalists will be invited into the college’s specialist  Food Centre on March 20 to recreate their dishes once more in front of a panel of celebrity judges.

The winning team will receive £100 in cash plus two tablets pcs for their school. The second and third prizewinners will receive cash.

Julie Bent, Reaseheath’s Food Training and Communications Co-ordinator, explained: “We invited schools to take part in this challenge, partly because home baking has become so popular and partly to encourage pupils to look seriously at careers in the wider food industry. We’ve had an amazing response. Although many entries have come from food technology departments, in some cases pupils from the whole year have become involved.

“We’re looking forward to judging some amazing entries.”


Zoo trip prize for Bury budding scientists

Budding scientists from Bury Church of England High School saw some of their lessons come to life during a behind-the-scenes visit to Reaseheath’s zoo.

Twelve pupils from Years 9 and 10 helped to feed ring tailed lemurs and meerkats and flew birds of prey during an action packed trip round our animal management department.

Pupil Lucy Tyrer, 15, won the chance to spend time with Reaseheath’s zoo keepers after becoming one of the top prizewinners at The Big Bang Fair in Liverpool, a north west event aimed at encouraging young scientists and engineers.

Her project, ‘The Perfect Cup of Tea’, was awarded top marks for enthusiasm and commitment to STEM (education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The category prize was sponsored by Reaseheath College.

Lucy chose to bring 11 fellow science enthusiasts on her day out. All the pupils have completed CREST (Creative Science and Technology) awards. Lucy, who wants to become a vet said: “This was a really good experience. All the colleges near us are in towns so being out in the country and meeting all the animals was amazing.”

Chemistry teacher Amy Jackson, who accompanied the group, said: “Our pupils, particularly girls, are become more and more interested in science. This was a great opportunity to come to Reaseheath and spend time outside doing practical activities. The facilities here are stunning. The whole group had a really good learning experience and loved every minute.”


Career chat inspires herpetological students

Former animal management students Luke Harding and Simon Maddock described their adventures with some of the world’s rarest reptiles and amphibians during a talk to Reaseheath’s Herpetological and Entomological Society (RHES) yesterday.

Both Luke, 25, and Simon, 24, have gone on to become specialist herpetologists since completing their Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management in 2007. They have remained close friends since their schooldays and regularly share and discuss their research findings.

Luke has just returned from the Caribbean where he has been involved in a project to reinstate an endangered species of frog to the islands of Montserrat and Dominica. Called the ‘Mountain Chicken’, the frog used to be Dominica’s national dish and gets its name because it tastes like chicken.

The frog population on both islands has been drastically hit by disease, illegal hunting and habitat loss. Scientists are desperately trying to save the species through a captive breeding programme and by raising its profile among the local population. Alongside working closely with London Zoo, which has a captive breeding facility, one of Luke’s key tasks was to help run Dominica’s first highly successful Mountain Chicken Day last September.

As well as describing his Caribbean adventures, Luke also talked about his part in a research project  on Komodo dragons in Indonesia…and how he got to follow his dream.

On leaving Reaseheath, Luke began a degree in zoo biology at Nottingham Trent University but left after he was offered an internship at Chester Zoo. He completed his degree later via the Open University. Following his internship he worked as a herpetologist for Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire and then at Colchester Zoo, where he became Deputy Head of the herpetological department. He then transferred full time onto the mountain chicken project.

An equally well travelled Simon outlined his involvement in active research projects in India, Ecuador Papua New Guinea and the Seychelles. He is currently based at the Natural History Museum in London, where he is researching for a joint PhD on the evolution and conservation of amphibians and snakes in the Seychelles in collaboration with the University College London.

Simon says that his Reaseheath experience prepared him well for his academic career. He gained a degree and Masters degree in zoology at Bangor University before moving on to study for his doctorate.

Both former students took part in a lively Q and A session after their talk. Luke said: “It’s great to be back here. Reaseheath has always been a fantastic institution with great staff but it’s been good to catch up with all the new, top end facilities. Hopefully we’ve shown the current students what they can achieve through hard work, determination and drive.

Advised Simon: “It’s really important that you attend events, gain contacts and keep networking. There are loads of opportunities out there but they won’t just be handed to you.”

Luke Harding and Simon Maddock with Josh Flood and Nathan Brookes-Bennett, chairs RHES

Luke Harding and Simon Maddock with Josh Flood and Nathan Brookes-Bennett, chairs RHES

RHES make the most of Manchester’s minibeasts!

On Monday 21st October, Reaseheath Herpetological and Entomological Society (RHES) travelled to Manchester for a day focused on all things creepy crawly. First stop was Manchester Museum.

After taking a tour round the museum itself and purchasing a few commemorative knick-knacks from the gift shop, RHES members met up with Dr Dmitri Logunov for a behind-the-scenes look at Manchester Museum’s invertebrate collection.

Dr Dmitri Logunov is the curator of Arthropods at Manchester Museum, and is well known for his work with and passion for spiders.

In particular the family saltcidae otherwise known as jumping spiders, which he discussed with RHES at length, much to the delight of our resident spider lovers.

RHES trip to Manchester MuseumOnce behind the scenes in the museum’s archives, Dmitri introduced RHES members to a number of glass cases containing a wide variety of preserved specimens including; beetles, butterflies and earwigs. He went on to walk them through the methods of cataloguing and classifying specimens within a collection.

Dmitri also taught members about the different ‘values’ specimens can have to a collection whether scientific, historical, or even monetary. some specimens in the collection are apparently worth in excess of one million pounds, though are deemed priceless to the museum.

Another main focus of dmitri’s talk, was to try and explain the responsibilities and requirements of being a curator and with a number of members passionate about working in this field it certainly was a highlight of the day.

After the talk and a number of questions dmitri then took us down for a guided tour of the spirit vaults to show us a selection of specimens; including a very extensive collection of spiders which he was currently working with, as well as centipedes, crustaceans & molluscs. We finished the tour with another wave of questions as members tested both their own and Dmitri’s knowledge, much to both our and his satisfaction.

Elephant beetle RHES tripLater on in the evening RHES attended the monthly meeting of the Manchester Invertebrate and Spider Club or M.I.S.C, who are a society dedicated to the keeping, breeding and proper welfare of exotic invertebrates with a heavy focus on tarantulas.

At the meeting we met up with Mark Brocklehurst, founder of the house of spiders with whom we discussed a number of topics including tarantula husbandry, breeding and enclosure design. Two members, Kyle Fahey and Harry Julian ended their night by purchasing a number of spiderlings to add to their collections much to the their delight (and to the dismay of their parents).

To finish, I’d like to thank a number of people most importantly the members who came on the trip without which we would have had no trip, as well as a big thank you to Dmitri and Manchester Museum for taking the time to speak with us, M.I.S.C for inviting us down and to Kyle, Lauren and my fellow committee members for helping me organise this trip; a big thank you to all.

Nathan Brooks-Bennett
RHES Chair 

Arley Hall opens its doors to the public

Arley Hall, the grand Victorian Jacobian Hall owned by Lord and Lady Askbrook, situated in rural Cheshire opens its doors to the public for its Christmas Floral Extravanganza from the 30th November till the 6th December.

Floristry students prepare for arley hall

Level 3 Floristry students at Reaseheath have been given the opportunity to decorate ‘The Gallery’ as part of the event. The huge room with sky high windows, an enormous marble fireplace and wooden cladding will feature a 15ft Christmas Tree and an abundance of arrangements designed and put together by Level 3 students.

Students have been preparing their designs, collecting together sundries and accessories, visiting wholesalers and ordering flowers ready to decorate ‘The Gallery’ on Thursday 28th November.

Today we have been conditioning flowers, collecting foliage from the Reaseheath grounds and putting together the bases for the arrangement, ready for all our equipment to be transported to Arley Hall tomorrow, where students will work solidly for two days decorating in time for the Arley Hall opening on Saturday.

The other rooms within Arley Hall are to be decorated by florists at the forefront of the floristry industry within Cheshire, and Reaseheath students are privileged to have been given the chance to take part in such a fantastic event at one of England’s historic houses and gardens of distinction.

Reaseheath College to build cutting edge Food Futures Centre

Reaseheath College has announced plans to add to its world class facilities by building an £8million industry-led Food Futures Centre.

The project will enable the Cheshire based college to support the government’s agri-tech strategy, which is designed to increase the competitiveness of the agriculture and food production industry and enable it to meet the challenge of world population growth and climate change.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills, through the Skills Funding Agency, has allocated nearly £6m of capital grant for the project.

The building will provide a national centre for horticultural production, environmental management and conservation and renewable energy, and will be the leading one of its type in the country. It will include a visitor and interpretation centre and a schools unit.

In a second project, the college, in partnership with Cheshire East Council, is to develop a state-of-the-art centre for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. This £1.5m project, funded by the Education Funding Agency, will develop desperately needed specialist facilities for students from the Cheshire East area. Part of its remit is to help students achieve independent living skills.

Both developments are planned to be sited on a part of the college golf course which will close to the public next March. The buildings have been designed with considerable input from professional industry advisors. It is hoped that the planning applications will be submitted before the end of the year and that both buildings will be open for students and the public by September 2015.

The college also intends to use the opportunity to reconstruct its existing turf based sports pitches and build new 3G and multi-use artificial sports areas. A new sports centre for use by community and students will also be built. Significantly enhancing the sporting facilities and resources available to local people, the sports centre will cater for grass based team sports and sports requiring an artificial playing surface such as hockey, as well as a six court sports hall, team changing facilities and a fitness centre.

Space released by the relocation of the horticulture department has been earmarked for a further halls of residence on campus. Work on the design for these halls will begin shortly, with construction planned to start in summer 2014.

Announcing the approval of capital funding last week, Principal Meredydd David said that it had opened a huge and exciting opportunity for Reaseheath to be involved in the development of another world class educational facility.

He said: “I am thrilled that the government has identified Reaseheath as their preferred location for investing capital to develop this national Food Futures Centre. This will ensure that Reaseheath can continue to deliver specialist technical and educational training to next generation leaders.

“As a leading college, we are under constant pressure to invest into our facilities, but we also face campus restrictions. Following considerable discussion with master planners and local authority planning officers, it has become apparent that the only viable location for the new projects are on our golf course.

“The course is now used very little for training students and, regretfully, there is no other option than to close it. Reaseheath is continuing to work with the golf club to mitigate the impact of the closure, as far as is possible.”

Apprentice helps to grow dog grooming business

A Cheshire dog grooming parlour is successfully using the government’s apprenticeship programme to develop its workforce.

Angela Mayers, owner  of The Groom Room in Saltney, has seen her  well established business thrive since employing 19 year-old  Bethan Roberts.  Bethan , a former Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management student at  Reaseheath College, Nantwich, joined The Groom Room for work experience and so impressed Angela that she was offered a permanent position.

The young animal lover, who has always wanted to work with dogs, now has a paid job grooming, bathing and drying canine clients.  As an advanced apprentice, she is continuing to gain specific dog grooming qualifications at her workplace and is regularly visited by work based assessors from Reaseheath.  She had been introduced to dog grooming previously during her college course.

Angela Mayers has been part of the thriving business community in Saltney for seven years. The Groom Room offers an individual service for all breeds of dog and clients travel in from as far as Cumbria to take advantage of specialised processes such as hand stripping.

Said Angela: “The training Bethan received from Reaseheath College was excellent but, by taking advantage of the apprenticeship programme, I’ve been able to offer her the opportunity to gain more qualifications and practical experience.

“The apprenticeship programme is a great scheme and has made a real difference to my business as well as to Bethan’s future career.  It’s developed to guidelines so the training is nationally recognised and well supported by workbased assessors.  I ‘d  urge all businesses to take advantage of it.”

“Bethan lives near Ellesmere Port and is a former pupil at the Catholic High School, Chester. She said: “This is a dream job for me because I’m earning a wage and doing something which I enjoy.”

For further details about the The Groom Room visit their website

For further details about apprenticeship opportunities at Reaseheath College visit the apprenticeships section on our website. 

Reaseheath students pay tribute to Britain’s war veterans

Representatives from the Reaseheath College’s Students Association were among those to join representatives from the Royal British Legion at Crewe Station on Monday for a special platform service to mark Remembrance Day. The service was marked by the arrival of a sign written Virgin pendolino train which will bear the insignia of a poppy on its cab for the next year.

students join Remembrance Day service at Crewe station

Students from the Nantwich college had spent the previous week helping to raise funds for the Poppy appeal in the station alongside ex servicemen. The Crewe campaign raised more than £4,000.

Stuart Kay, Chairman of the Crewe branch of the Royal British Legion said: “Reaseheath students behaved in a very professional manner and helped us considerably in our fund raising efforts. These young people appreciate that many servicemen and women are the same age as themselves and are involved in current conflicts throughout the world.”

Virgin Hero Royal British Legion Standard BearerStudents and staff also turned out in force at a college service to commemorate Remembrance Day. Hundreds gathered around the flagpole to hear an address by Principal Meredydd David and observed two minutes’ silence at 11am on Monday.



Reaseheath funding bid will help farming businesses

Reaseheath College, Nantwich, agricultural advisors are to help 50 farmers with challenged areas of their businesses following a successful bid for funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

The project, which will run for 18 months, will help the businesses become more profitable and sustainable over the long term. Specialists from Reaseheath’s Agricultural Development Academy (RADA) aim to encourage efficient farm practices by providing a range of specific technical help, advice and planning.

The £48,250 funding will be spent on accessing farmers in most need and providing them with expert input, as well as managing the project from Reaseheath.  A steering group who share an interest in assisting farm businesses will be working in close partnership with the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund was set up by Prince Charles to tackle key issues which negatively impact on rural Britain and to secure a sustainable future for British agriculture and the rural economy. Since its launch in 2010 the fund has handed out £3.3million to projects nationwide. Reaseheath’s bid was one of just 16 selected out of the latest 290 applications.

The project is to be managed by Lesley Innes, RADA Knowledge Transfer Facilitator, who successfully handled Reaseheath’s RDPE Livestock Northwest Cheshire programme over the past four years.

RADA Manager George Fisher said: We are delighted to receive this funding.  The project will open up new doors for us to work with farmers that do not usually interact with Reaseheath and the knowledge transfer work that we do.  Most importantly, it will enable us to help farmers that are in urgent need of support and business improvement.”

For further details contact:  Lesley Innes 01270 625131  

Floral designs for Arley Halls Christmas Extravaganza

By Reaseheath Level 3 Floristry students

We have been asked to decorate The Gallery at Arley Hall for their Christmas Extravaganza, which is taking place between Saturday 30th November to Friday 6th December.

Floristry students arley HallTo help us to decide what displays we would include in the Christmas Extravaganza we visited Arley Hall today and undertook an assessment.  We began by asking a member of staff multiple questions to help us to get an idea of what we could and couldn’t do, as well as find out key information such as budget, dates and room layout.

We then split into four groups and allocated each group a different section of the room. Firstly, the front section then the middle section and fire place, then the far end of the room and finally the Christmas tree. In our groups we analysed our own sections recording information such as size and space. With this information we can plan our designs effectively and make sure our final products are in proportion to The Gallery.

Once we were finished in The Gallery we took a brief walk into the gardens to look at their varied chose of foliage. This is to be included as a representation of the grounds and the hall.

We are now busy planning our designs and flowers to construct on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November.