Collaboration is the key to farming education, says Easton and Otley College principal Jane Townsend

PUBLISHED: 08:37 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:58 08 May 2018

Jane Townsend, principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jane Townsend, principal of Easton and Otley College. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


Collaboration with industry partners is a key strategy in the drive to improve agricultural education in East Anglia, says JANE TOWNSEND, recently appointed principal of Easton and Otley College.

As this publication is entitled Agricultural Review, I thought I would ‘agriculturally review’ my experiences at Easton and Otley since coming to work in this wonderful region for this amazing college last September.

The thing that has struck me the most about East Anglia in relation to the other places where I’ve worked is that businesses here (both farming and otherwise) genuinely seem and are wanting to collaborate and work together for the greater good.

I’ve worked in education for 25 years – mostly in a land-based context – and that desire to help each other inspires me and the new senior team to want to do more to tailor our courses to your needs and provide you with a workforce that can cope with the demands of a rapidly changing industry.

I know that this sentiment may have been shared with you before, however, my determination to make sure this happens will be judged by my actions.

Already we are in positive discussions with [Norwich-based machinery dealers] Ben Burgess to work with them and develop our courses and we are keen to set up an agricultural academy with a curriculum that is part designed by you, for you.

We are working hard and we are making excellent progress. We have seen our students win national competitions in Peterborough at an event called Winterstock. Two student teams went toe to toe (or tweed to tweed) with other so-called agricultural big-hitters and won first and second prize.

We’ve also had other groups take part in European competitions where they represented the nation (Agrolympics and Paris) and more educational trips abroad are planned to help our students make connections amidst a post-Brexit Britain.

Speaking of Brexit, I’ve enjoyed attending many lively discussions at the college thanks to link ups with organisations like Barclays UK and the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association where this and many other topics have been debated.

It was also great to hear a talk by Adam Henson from Countryfile at Easton.

At Otley we recently hosted an event with Links East UK – an organisation that helps to build partnerships with China – and our outlook is inclusive to everyone. We want to work locally, nationally and internationally.

Like the many people I’ve met with since my time in the region, we want to collaborate for the greater good.

We want to have a say and make a difference by not working in isolation – but working collectively with the industries that we passionately serve.

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