The Groundsman

June 2013

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GROW WITH THE IOG 19 the Groundsman June 2013 IOG apprentice to head groundsman for Anson Colin Hoskins reviews the recent success story for an IOG Apprentice who achieved his goals by successfully completing the course and secured a significant groundscare role By: Colin Hoskins fter completing an Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Apprenticeship, 23-year-old Anson Downham has risen from being a caretaker to head groundsman at Tiffin School in Kingston-upon-Thames in under three years. "The IOG apprenticeship played a key role in enabling me to fully understand not only sports turf maintenance but also health and safety and environmental issues," says Anson, "and I'm already applying the knowledge and skills I've learned into improving the cricket squares, football and rugby pitches in my charge." A Promising start Anson started work at the school in Surrey two-and-a-half years ago as caretaker of one of the pavilions on the sports fields. Then the school's estate manager, Alex Di Luzio, asked Anson to help out on the sports pitches. "Anson approached his new task with such gusto that he was soon offered the role as assistant groundsman," says Alex, who adds: "We knew that an improvement in Anson's technical and manual groundsmanship skills would of course not only benefit Anson but ultimately lead to improvements in pitch standards. "So, without hesitation, we enrolled Anson on the IOG-NPTC oneyear Level 2 Apprenticeship in Sports & Amenity Turf Maintenance." To successfully complete the workbased diploma course, Anson had to work through a number of units (the IOG Apprenticeship is in line with the Qualifications and Credit Framework). In addition to covering the maintenance of cricket, football and rugby pitches, these units included the basic principles of plant and soil science as well as sports and amenity turf maintenance, plus knowledge of identifying and controlling plant problems. In addition, his training embraced an understanding of work-related experience in the land-based industries and an introduction to machinery operation. Work-based learning The units were completed online via the IOG's innovative iCampus virtual learning environment, which was complemented by online/phone assistance, when appropriate, from the IOG assessor who also visited the school for Anson's necessary periodic assessments. Commenting on the convenience and ease of use of iCampus, Anson says: "I really enjoyed the fact that the apprenticeship was work-based, which enabled me to learn on my own pitches and with my own equipment," "Being online, the learning environment is so easy to manage and meant I could complete the tutorials at times that suited me and my work schedule. Also, I received invaluable input from the IOG assessor. "The experience has certainly given me a thirst for more expert groundsmanship knowledge." Education benefits Just before the apprenticeship was completed, the school's head groundsman retired and, says Alex Di Luzio, "based on Anson's work ethic and obvious knowledge gains, it was a easy decision to promote him – and to enrol the new assistant groundsman as an IOG Apprentice, too. "Investing is staff education and training can only benefit the playing surfaces and there's no doubt that better surfaces help to inspire better players," Alex adds. Anson's prowess for groundsmanship has already attracted favourable comments on the pitches in his charge (three for football, five for rugby and two mini-rugby pitches). "I'm now looking at changing the renovation programme for the five cricket squares too," he says. Key Facts The IOG delivers its Apprenticeship programme as part of the national curriculum to people aged 16 years and above, and it currently has 22 apprentices placed at independent schools, sports clubs, golf clubs, local authorities and sports turf maintenance contractors. In 2012, the IOG delivered 115 training courses to more than 1,000 delegates; from 1995 to 2012, the IOG delivered more than 1,800 courses to over 18,000 delegates. For more details about IOG Apprencticeships and training, visit or call 01908 312511. Visit for more information and digital editions

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