AshColl trade course 2021 webStanding in front of the 1980s Toyota Starlet that is being sanded and primed ready for painting are (from left) Sophie Woods, Isi Ula and Jack Gibbons. Photo Maddison GourlayAshburton College’s automotive course is receiving praise from training industry providers for being an innovative course.

Four years of hard work from Kyle Backhouse-Smith, Daniel Thew, and Mike Pearce is paying off with industry training providers wanting to use their course as a model and roll it out nationally.

The Ashburton College automotive course had the highest national pass rate with the highest national pass with the training industry in its first year.

“Our training providers were stoked,” Backhouse-Smith said.

Thew said a trial year in 2020 was to see how the course would go and everyone in the two trial classes passed the course with great marks.

The successful trial was crucial in getting the course up and running, he said.

Year 13 student Sophie Woods participated in the course during its trial run last year and has moved on to the second year of the course this year.

“My favourite part of the course so far was learning about the CV joint,” Woods said.

“Pulling it apart and putting it back together again, learning how it works and how it all fits together.”

All of the theory of the course is done online through the training provider, planned by Backhouse-Smith and Thew.

The structure of the theory assessments forces students to ask for help, Backhouse-Smith said.

Students have to read resources before doing a timed assessment.

If they fail too many times they have to ring the industry training provider to let them back in, Backhouse-Smith said.

“It forces the students to ask for help if they are struggling,” Thew said.

“This system has been a key indentifier on where certain students are struggling, so appropriate support can be provided.”

Industry providers require the students to know how to service vehicles as part of their practical assessments, with safety aspects and changing tyres also required knowledge.

Staff vehicles were the first to be used in practical assessments, receiving oil changes, new cam belts as well as other general servicing.

The automotive course now has four cars, and they are currently working on a 1980s Toyota Starlet to get it ready for painting.

Backhouse-Smith and Thew are being sent to Hamilton on a professional development programme to use a new type of paint, the only people in the South Island that will have access to the paint, and will be passing their skills on to their students.

Work experience is an option for students that wanted to try out trades before they left school, Backhouse-Smith said, but the automotive course runs as a class structure, and stops students from being out of class the whole day and missing a full day of study.

“By keeping them in a class environment it keeps them on track and helps them engage more, and stops them disrupting others,” Backhouse-Smith said.

They then hope to get their students into a workplace environment in their last year of the course to give them connections and more experience, building on what the tutors have already taught them.

By Maddison Gourlay © The Ashburton Guardian - 2 March 2021