Cliff’s Diary of Practical Training – Part 1

Day 1:

5am Tuesday 3rd May

The alarm screams and it is time to be up and about today, as it’s day 1 of a 4 day training week I’m due to be at ATL training centre Featherstone by 8am and I have to get there by public transport which means a 5.45am bus into Bradford and then another bus to Wakefield that takes 1hour 15mins then yet another bus to Featherstone and 10mins walk to Green Lane, industrial park were the centre is situated.

It is a beautiful sunny morning so the journey seemed to pass quickly. The training centre is a smart new industrial unit and already a hive of activity. The canteen is full of students, some like myself for the first time, others are there for later training weeks also there is a mix of plumbing and electrical students. It soon becomes apparent who is in my group and after introductions we are approached by our tutor for the week – Neil Linely.

Neil takes us to one of the centre classrooms to give us the induction and explain how the week will pan out as we only have 4 days to do 5 days work because of the May day bank holiday. There is also paperwork to be done before we can get started. With that completed we were out to the practical training area where we are issued with our tool kit and asked to list the contents and check the condition of each item before signing for them.

The rest of the morning is taken up with Health & Safety Boring but essential as not everyone in the group is used to a workshop environment.

Lunch is taken up with more in depth conversations with the other students the group is 12 people from all round the north of England and Scotland mainly and as one would expect from many different working backgrounds but all seem to key together well and everyone is keen to get the most out of the week, so the 30min lunch goes in a flash.

In the afternoon we were give the task of soldering and fittings practise, much more enjoyable not making anything in particular just getting used to soldering and using fittings, with Neil taking 3 students at a time to go and do safe ladder techniques for this we also need to take photos for our portfolio’s, again the afternoon is gone in a flash with all feeling tired and ready for home or to lodgings for them that are staying locally for the week. One of the students offers to drop me in Wakefield which takes 30mins off my travelling time. “Thanks James” I am home at 7.30pm, tired and hungry.

Day 2:

After another early start and long journey we are straight on with more soldering practise but this time to actual specification drawings with Neil showing us how to use our pipe benders correctly and accurately, by this point it is more apparent who is used to working with hand tools opposed to them who have come from a more office based background. The group seems to be splitting into smaller working groups with the people who picked it up quickly helping others who needed a little assistance. As I have worked in a workshop setting for many years I find this really easy to learn and start helping others until lunch.

In the afternoon we are given the task of forming specific bends ie: Passover, Cranked Passover, offset and bridge, (again some people get this quicker than others) we are also informed that we will have our first exam tomorrow – Health & Safety in Plumbing, also that we have summary of our task on the safe use of ladders to write for our portfolio’s. By this time it 5pm again so I will have to do my summary at home.

Day 3:

Today our given task for the morning is to fabricate a rig to a specific drawing and pressure test the rig at working pressure and everyone is heads down to the task, during the morning the student on the City & Guilds 6129 course that includes me, were taken off to do our Health & Safety in Plumbing Exam the given time for the exam is 1hour but I have done in 30mins so after a quick break i am back to pressure test my rig.

“No Leaks!” , says a very chuffed Neil, who then gives me my main task for the week which is a hand basin and WC fit in one of the many work bays that are there to simulate a real room but I am required to extract a materials and fittings requisition list from a drawing before we can start. We are given a catalogue to fulfil this task and as this task is marked we have to be accurate to within 2mm on all materials there is also a written summary to complete for this task and 2 photos.

I spend 2hours compiling my requisition list then set to work in the bay setting out the drawing on the wall of the bay and only have time to fix the pipe clips before its 5pm and time to leave.

Day 4:

It’s the final day and I get straight into my bay and start to fabricate my pipe work, Neil keeps coming by to check progress and give advice. He also informs everyone has passed the previous days exam, apparently this is the first time that no one has had to resit so he is as happy as the rest of us.

By morning break I have the first fix completed and checked, so after a quick coffee I set about pressure testing the rig and with a little leak on 1 compression fitting that just needed a tweak with a wrench, I could get on with the second fix, a final check from Neil just before lunch and its passed much to my delight.

After lunch I decommissioned the task and re-painted the bay and wrote my summary in rough. All done its 2pm and everyone wants to get off home soon as possible. There are 1 or 2 people still doing the task but I am finished and so is James who has given me a lift into Wakefield everyday so we leave it to Neil to help the stragglers.

I am tired but feeling on top of the world as I travel home I have not been on my PC all week so when I get home I set about sorting through my email.

I get an even bigger buzz when I find an email from Plumbzine to say I have won £750 worth of Dewalt tools in a competition I entered last month that will go a long way towards starting my own business. So all in all it has been a fantastic week for me and i am looking forward to week 2. Thanks for reading I hope it’s useful for anyone about to do there practical training,

Cliff’s next blog about Week 2 of his practical training will be up next week. In the meantime, check out some of Cliff’s other posts on here or at


About Train4tradeSkills

Train4TradeSkills offer the only trade training skills courses that combine three great ways to learn, through a unique blend of book based theory, practical workshops and virtual reality PC based training, to help you qualify you as a plumber, electrician or gas engineer. No other learning provider offers our unique way to study, with full tutor support, easy to follow, step by step modules. Once you complete one part of the course and return your work for marking, the next stage of the course automatically follows. It’s as easy as that. It’s fun, it’s easy to follow... and it can be fitted around your existing work and family commitments!

Posted on May 9, 2011, in plumbing, plumbing courses, plumbing jobs, Plumbing News, train4tradeskills, Train4TradeSkills Bright Sparks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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