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Throughout the history of the Apuldram Centre training has always taken place on a very informal basis within the various departments.  In 2005 the board of directors were looking at the direction of the centre over the next 10-15 years and decided to put training on a more formal footing. Various nationally-recognised and accredited training schemes were looked at and the National Proficiency Test Council – NPTC – was settled on as being a scheme which it was felt was suitable for the centre’s trainees. The scheme is run as a franchise of Chichester College.

The scheme, although portfolio-based, has many practical tasks to successfully complete with the aid of a dedicated member of staff. There are knowledge-evidence questions to be satisfactorily answered for the portfolio and the member of staff types these up. The tasks are photographed whilst being carried out and this, plus the record of success as the person works through the various parts of the tasks – which are broken down into easy bite size parts – all help to build a portfolio which is then reviewed by an Internal Verifier, working for Chichester College, who, in turn, is then checked by an External Verifier, working for NPTC.  This is done to ensure the maintaining of a set, verifiable and consistent standard. This all therefore maintains a validity nationally.

In 2005 30 trainees worked through an Entry Level 2 Production Horticulture course with a 100% pass. They were then presented with their certificates by the Mayor of Chichester. Since then the courses have expanded to the point where they now cover three levels of horticulture, three levels of catering, two levels of vehicle maintenance and one level in Life Skills.  All of the foregoing courses are at Entry Level 1, 2 and 3 as well as one of the horticultural courses being at Level 1, which is getting towards an NVQ. level. There have been consistently high standards with 100% pass throughout. Some trainees complete within one year, some need a second year to gain a pass, but all have and are enjoying the courses and soon as they finish their course they want to know what they are doing next and in fact want to get on with the next level as soon as possible.

Within the Training Room literacy, numeracy, time-telling, money matters and IT are also taught and once again the trainees enjoy these sessions, showing great interest and keenness.

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