Sparsholt College Group hosted its first ever Employer Thank You Event on campus to celebrate local employers from a variety of different industries who support our students with apprenticeships and work placements.  

Our Guest speaker at the event was Tom Heap, Countryfile and Radio 4 show presenter. Tom has had previous involvement with Sparsholt, joining our students and staff showcasing their skills at RHS Chelsea in 2020 where he helped spread the word about Sparsholt College Group students on a truly international stage.  

Tom said “There is a fertile valley of life going on here and that is tremendous. That is a testament to the college and of course to the employers and no doubt the incredibly talented students who prove their worth every time they go out on one of their placements” 

There were three special recognition awards presented at the event. 

The Industry Insight award was presented to Marwell Wildlife Park. The work carried out at Marwell simulates a real-life environment working within animal enclosures and exposure to the general public. Learners find these experiences invaluable, and they are an asset to present on their CVs. 

The Apprentice Employer of the Year award was presented to Location Landscapes. Location Landscapes have worked in partnership with Sparsholt College since 2015. They took on their first apprentice in 2015 (who is currently now one of their supervisors) and have continued to commit to the recruitment of apprentices to which they have just recently appointed their sixth apprentice.   

Finally, the Employer Mentor award was presented to TruGreen. Working with them over the summer, we asked if Alwyn and Sandra would be willing to help offer an industry placement to a Level 2 Horticulture student with additional learning support needs who lived close by to them. They met with the student and his parent and agreed to take the student onto placement. 

Student attendance on placement was limited in the Autumn term but Alwyn and Sandra encouraged the student to continue, and they spent over 150 hours on placement, largely working in the Spring term with Trugreen. The student’s course tutor fed back that as a result of their time with Trugreen, the student was teaching their peers at College about lawncare during practical session on the college grounds. 

Suzanne Grant , Deputy Principal, said “We support around 4,500 learners each year across a full land based and general further education curriculum. The employers are such an important part of the Sparsholt College Group community.  

“We have always striven to be known and recognised as the educational establishment where our students are given every opportunity to learn the theory of their craft but also where they are given every opportunity to practically master their craft. In coming to us we want students to know that they will have every opportunity to develop the competencies they will need in the future. 

“We know hands down that we cannot possibly do that without your help.  It has been long said that there is a gap between the delivery of educators and the needs of industry. With your help we work together every day to bridge that gap.“ 

Michèle Price, Chief Executive at The Winchester Beacon, attended the event and commented “Thanks to all involved for such a different and enjoyable event for someone like myself involved in such a different area, it was fascinating. It was a great insight into the work that Sparsholt College Group does and how they are evolving and the importance of your role in raising awareness of the countryside, its habitat and wildlife.”  

After the awards were presented, the employers were then able to take part in three activities. These included a tractor trailer ride around our beautiful campus, taking in views of our Equine Centre and Fam. A tour of our Animal Health and Welfare Research Centre, the home of the respected National Zoo Academy and discovering our apple collection and RHS Chelsea garden with our very own pomologist Chris Bird. 

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