Skills For Work – A report From Tiree High School

We have been doing a new course called Rural Skills at Tiree High School to get us an Intermediate 1 certificate at the end of session 2009-2010.

The qualification is awarded by SQA in partnership with Argyll College, whose representative on the island is Will Wright. Mr Stirrat is our mentor in school.

On a Wednesday we go out onto a farm for the afternoon and we do a variety of things to do with farming which will benefit us in our course and also benefits the farmer. On a Thursday we write out reports of what we did the previous afternoon, add any photos we took on the Wednesday and keep the records for assessment.

The course includes the following units:

  • Animal Handling
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Estate Maintenance
  • Land Based Industries
  • Employability Skills
  • Crop Production

The crofters who are involved are Ewan MacKinnon, Hugh MacInnes, and Lachie MacFadyen. We have also had help from John Bowler (RSPB). We are very grateful for the time and effort they have contributed and would like to say thank you for their help over the last 2 years.

“Having access to a vocational option has been a real enhancement to the school curriculum. We are very grateful to Ewan MacKinnon, Hugh MacInnes, Lachie MacFadyen and John Bowler for providing their time and expertise to make this possible.” ~ Myra Macarthur HT

Land Based Industries

Every Thursday we have some classroom time to write up our reports and do research.

Part of this course is a unit called Land Based Industries where we have researched 3 industries. This is a short report of what we have found:

Fencing
Fencing is usually done by the crofters or farmers themselves or by fencing contractors. Resources needed include wooden posts to tension the fence, stobs, wire, Rylock, tools and if necessary a digger and truck.

We looked into methods used and different types of fence on Tiree and on the mainland. When we were working on the crofts we helped put up fences to keep the animals in.

RSPB
John Bowler is the local RSPB warden. He has taken us out on several Wednesday afternoons to help set water levels for the birds to breed and building a bridge for the cows to cross.This helps protect their habitat.

This industry needs membership and volunteers to keep it going . Because of the varied species of birds that live on or visit Tiree it needs somebody to maintain their habitat so that the birds are protected and encouraged to breed.

Dairy Farming
Although there is no dairy farming on Tiree, much of mainland farming is for dairy. This industry relies on good quality Friesian Cows or Jersey Cows. We have been studying dairy farming in class at school.

When a male calf is born the farmer usually sells the calf for veal production or breeding depending on the quality of the calf. The female calves are kept for milking and breeding. Most dairy farmers have a milking parlour but some farmers milk their cows by hand in a byre. Most farmers grow their own food for the cows which is corn, hay and silage. It is fed straight to the cows in winter.

Ruairidh Munn and Ewan Brown

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