Ornate cornice with a repeating pattern

The final Unit

Last week I trained a 3rd student, he was making up a unit missed. He had problems during his apprenticeship. Issues with confidence mainly, brought about by continual failure in a learning environment. School, an RTO and at tafeSA too.


During an initial session discussion it became obvious that many parts of the practical project had threatened the student and this presented itself in several ways.

His reactions included:

  • Reluctance to start work
  • Avoidance of commitment to act on certain tasks
  • Continual sitting staring into his mobile phone
  • Early requests for Smoko and lunch breaks
  • Late arrival back from breaks
  • Tendencies to throwing materials around his small work bay
  • Turning away during discussion
  • Avoidance of direct eye contract
  • Explaining that he can do it all
  • Why do I need to do this anyway

Anger in training

Many times during training of apprentices I have seen it rear it ugly head, snarl at the world and at me, though I have never felt threatened by it. May be I have just been lucky. That type of reaction demonstrated the power held by learning environments. Environments that seemed in many cases in pre and trade training to skip over the basics in a race towards the more interesting, exciting, academically or socially accepted goals of Completion/Competency.

The Setting

Showing the continuing pattern on an ornate cornice

The pattern continues along the length of the cornice

tafeSA workshop floor in a wooden framed work bay approximately 2400 x 1500 with ceiling joists, a doorway and window opening. The unit was “Match & Mitre ornate cornice.”

The Task

The student had to install some basic plasterboard on walls and ceiling, build a very simple division between to section of the ceiling and measure, mitre and install ornate cornice. The cornice comes with two patterns one repeating and one continuous.

Both cornices needed to be mitred with REM (return end mitres) at each end. The difficulty is to cut the mitres to either Mirror or Match the patterns. Stop up the mitres and clean up the installation to an industry standard. For a third year apprentice this is required to complete the training and while there is thinking and problem solving to successfully complete.

Mitres cut to Mirror the pattern

Ornate Cornice cut and installed to Mirror the pattern

The Student

A worker in the industry installing plasterboard wall and ceiling linings, suspended ceilings, cornice, steel framing and many other building activities. (We don’t just lift and install heavy flat things onto walls and ceilings)

After three years of training this task completes his training should not represent this much of an issue or challenge, but it was.

Starting his training with another RTO and then being transferred to us put him at a disadvantage as the basics had been skimmed over in his case and though he is confident in installing sheets, metal trims and flushing, his problem solving and confidence skills were low to fair.

It is thinking and confidence that have him stumped. If you can do something but don’t know why you are doing it, it is usually easy to go about your daily business. However when you are presented with a problem/issue/challenge outside your comfort zone you need to know why things are done the way they are, to solve the problem and complete the task.

This is where the process fell done here.

The Reaction

From the list above you can see they were numerous and varied but not rare and seemingly on the increase.

The Advice

During discussions it became obvious to me that the reason for the unit, the tasks, assessment and competency had not been clearly passed on to the student in the previous session, before commencement of the project and assessment.


  1. Explained what a competent tradesperson would do and how long it would take them. (A picture of competence)
  2. A clear view as to what is expected from the project (picture of competence)
  3. Assurance that in this environment it was OK to make mistakes as they are what teaches us the most and the quickest. (The student is not penalised for mistakes but supported to rectify defects)
  4. Explanation of Assessment criteria, methods and outcomes.
  5. Demonstration of each cutting technique without pressure and offering guidance not interference and allowance of errors to embed the process into the skills of the students.

The Result

While needing practice which is the basis of all trade training the student visually changed in stature, appearance, attitude and confidence. Almost immediately…

The project was competed, the end product was above the students expectation and in the reflection session the reasons why things are done became more important to him. Combined with the realisation that he had now completed his training and was all but for paperwork a qualified tradesman lifted his confidence and hopefully increase his appreciation of basic fundamentals, clear Aims, Objectives and Assessment Outcomes has on a tradespersons future outlook.


Confidence and guild knowledge are the keys to being a competent tradesperson. The confidence to have a go, the confidence that you can use your knowledge to find the answers and solve the problems that come along when building anything and the confidence to try new things, be interested in your career and learn. This can turn an otherwise ordinary job into a satisfying career.


Assessment for Learning principles are a foundation for good learning and assessment and are ideal for Action Learning projects and training. I still find that the CBA project as it was called then 2010, now BCA impacts on my everyday work as a trainer, mentor and assessor at tafeSA. I thanks Judy Forbes and all the team at CBA for that…Cheers

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Recently I finished a Mentoring Project with Michael Coghlin, (well if you ever finish mentoring) and 4 BCF lecturers to get them started using on-line content. The experience has taught me a lesson in time. That lesson was hard learnt as I have heard say

“patience is a virtue, seldom in women and Never in men”.

I have realised that the progress towards electronic or on-line content and delivery is, in my BCF unit very reluctant and slow going.

Still, using the CBA “A4L” principles and Pictures of Competence during the mentoring project a trend began to emerge. Setting up of a YouTube Channel dedicated to their trade areas and having mentorees create and or gather their own videos was the most motivating action to stimulate interest and engagement.

There is now some movement towards on-line content & delivery via pictures of competency using these video examples. Once discovering how effective it is, they are embedding them into daily practice. This was a result I had dared to hope for, but felt was, on past experience a dream rather than a reality.

So there is a Win, Win, Win, Win, Win, Win for CBA, tafeSA, the students, the BCF, the mentorees and me too.

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Arches Arches Arches

An eye for detail The results of all these arches from 2A have been really better than last years with a few exceptions. Over all they have performed well and grasped the setting out geometry. Remembering it will be the challenge.

The eye for detail is getting better all the time and that combined with self and peer assessment should increase their skills as the year goes by.

Lining up short lengths of Capital and Collar Moulding is not as easy as it looks.  The shorter the length the more critical the levelling can become.  One or two degrees out will look like a mile on the otherside of the opening.

This project has 16 mitres and all must be as close to perfect as they can be, as the light hits them they must reveal a perfectly straight line along the mitre. 

These are hand run mouldings that the students have made from scratch.

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Arches at Gilles Plains

Workshop Arches

Arches were covered in the first year unit last year but that was a long time ago. Memories fade and “What is a Radius again?”

The set out seemed familiar, centerline, Span, pivot point, springing line but this time there is the added complication of moldings with a multi-centred arch.

Initial moulding have been run on benches and have dried from the last session a month ago.
The Capital moulding goes on and concentration to detail is key and the image shows engagement with the task.

It is the overall look of ornate arches that is the measure of success, we will see how they go…

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Skills for All

RPL Options

This june the funding for training is changing in SA, what it will look like is still unclear to me though the picture is starting to sharpen up.

It begins to appear that anyone with a Certificate 1 or two can get free training up to and including a Cert III & IV. How this will take place is still being decided as I write this though the Victorian experience has shown the likely direction it will take barring minor changes.

As the Building Industry quietens down in South Australia it is a prime time to get your on the job work experience recognised and assessed towards gaining a Nationally recognised Qualification.

In previous posts I have spoken about, On-site assessing, CITB funded night courses, on the job experience and evidence and this becomes more and more important with this new funding as the gap training that you may need to complete the training could now be paid for in full as part of this scheme.

My advice for anyone in the wall and ceiling lining trade with out formal qualification is to look into this opportunity to become qualified. That applies to any trade or Cert III or Cert IV qualifications.

All they need to do now is to pay apprentices properly and we would be away on the right path to gaining more qualified tradespeople.

Don’t miss this opportunity look into it soon…Good luck

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Appentice Numbers


The new apprentices for 2012 are about to arrive and the building industry is slowing to a crawl in South Australia.  Many apprentices in Wall & Ceiling Lining are on leave or on unpaid time off.  Numbers are down to almost half of last years intake, but there is still time to get more…


Extra Training sessions

There is an alternative they can come into tafeSA and complete any training they have missed or have not completed yet for the year.

This does two things fast tracks their training and frees up time later in the year that may be busier and saves employers losing their apprentices when they need them most.

Onsite Assessment

This is also an option that can shorten attendance times for face to face training and maintain employers workforce levels while still providing the financial bonuses paid for apprentices.

The new crew

As I wait for the new students for 2012 I feel encouraged after the great results achieved by the 2011 changed delivery methods and approaches.  It will help Validate the changes and confirm the positive improvements are consistence with a different sample group of students.

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Office for Apprentices

 As a followup to my last post I thought I would start off with where the students need to go with regard computing skills.

  1. Basic Word Processing

Letter witting & General Correspondence  mock resume

Quotes and orders via fax and email 



Students need to be exposed to basic business letters and other documents that come across the desk of an employer.

The WorkCover, Bank Statement type documents

General letters on letterhead, a.b.n., a.c.n., builder’s license numbers, full details and address.

Quotes for works and materials for purchase

Emails and email etiquette

Adding an image to a word document (company logo)


Spreadsheet Fundamentals

  • Setting up & entering basic data

Page set up, column, headings and lines, adding data directly into cells on the spreadsheet

  • Columns and Rows

What information do you need to record?

What headings do you need

How does it need to be viewed?

  • Sub Totals & Totals

    Click the AutoSum Button to select cells


At the bottom of the column or end of the row do you need a total?

What happens after the AutoSum is clicked

Ready to total cells

What do you want to do with the total?

Add A column This adds Cells A1 down to A9 together =SUM(A1:A9)


The These cells will be totalled click to see a larger version“∑”symbol is at the top righthand corner of the Excel spreadsheet and clicking on it will start the process of adding cells totals, then you need toTotal of cells above here click to see larger version highlight the cells you want totalled and click OK and it will do it for you.

  • Electronic Diaries & Basic Database use

      • What is a database

    It is basically just a Spreadsheet with information stored in cells which you can access when you need that information. E.g. Outlook Dairies, Access Databases etc

      • Using a database for customer records

    Your Outlook address book is a database, Google contacts is to

      • Diaries, appointments and reminders

    A diary is just a book if you don’t use it correctly

    Make your appointments by entering the date, time, location, phone contact details, address and email details, also add details of the meeting/appointment, what you need to bring or do prior etc

    Add a reminder at least an hour before to give you time to get there or get ready etc

    In a separate diary entry add a reminder that the meeting is coming up tomorrow or later

    Finally after the meeting add another entry/appointment with details of any follow-up that needs to be done and then enter any further appointment that you may have organised with reminder.

    This method while it at first seems a lot of work will remind you of appointments and what if anything has to be taken or done at that meeting the address, location and time of the appointment and full details of who is prest and the nature of the appoint. (Quote, payment, site meeting etc)

      • Sync it with your Smart Phone

    This allows you to have your diary with you always and be able to look up any conflicting appointments when scheduling work or meetings

    You can add appointments on the spot and it helps you keep organised and on time.



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Mentoring Survey Response

Mentoring Survey Response

The thief of time
Has struck
And holds dear
But the few moments
That slip through
a bony tightened grip
And slide down to
Mentor and Mentoree alike.

Written by rob beckett in response to a mentoring project I was running for e-learning that was going well not really as I had hoped it would. This poem was my progress report starter.
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Getting into office for Apprentices

At some stage all apprentices become the boss and they will have to use computers and here is some offers fgrom Microsoft to get started. Check out the information below and later I weill begin to offer some basic details and files that may help get students and anyone interested..

Cheers post again soon upgrading my Operating system so fingers crossed.

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Framed Ceilings Unit 2A – 2012

First Impressions

Fixing sheets to Rondo Ceiling

A past student installing a ceiling.

Last years first years are here and their first unit is Framed Ceilings (Rondo Ceilings)


The class has overall been exposed to this type of ceilings in their workplaces and constructed bulkheads using steel components.  That is a good starting point and the beginning of formative assessment, to judge where they are in terms of Guild or Trade Knowledge.

Basic component knowledge as usual is reasonable using trade terms for the parts but not the actual part numbers and names.

Bulkhead & Air Slots

Session plan

Introduction to part names and numbers .

  1. Purlin drawn on the whiteboard
  2. Asked question “What is next?”
  3. Feedback for each component, it’s purpose, placement and specifications
  4. Draw each part as information comes from the students, explain any missing information, technical and workplace situation related experience and “Discussion”
  5. Review Hanger, the components and weight ratings.
  6. Discussion of situations that arise on the site
    1. Wider purlins, large ducting, light fittings and setting out to avoid conflict with Framed ceiling steels work.
  7. Setting out Supported and unsupported centres for (127)TCR and (129)Furring Channel (70mm max centres for Furring unsupported) (200mm TCR)
  8. Quoting for suspended Framed Ceiling
    1. Discussion re: setting out and spacing hangers and introduced idea that they need to just work out the hangers and components for one run of TCR and then multiply that by the number of runs across the ceiling.
    2. Noticed that the main gap in knowledge is in the area of unsupported TCR and 226 Direct Fix Clip fixed to a joistFurring Channel distances.
      1. Uncertainty regarding set out of furring channel in Direct fix Rondo Ceilings.  NOTE* They knew the 600mm centre but has difficulty in setting out a 1500mm wide space with a 70mm centre each side.  Mose wanted to include a fifth Furring Channel (should divide the remaining span by 2 and place furring channel 300mm each side of centre).
  9. Discussion regarding plans and interpret information…
      1. Mistakes: Setting out bulkhead at rear of bays (Plans show at rear of Bay)
      2. Furring Channel set out with 5 instead of 4
      3. Unsure of wall angle and construction for Bulkhead

Session Summary

Extra time needed to draw out the correct information and add more setting out examples and situations.

Practical Project

In the work bays, plans laid out on the bench and general discussions, regarding construction.  students seemed clear and began working.

“Soon became obvious that they were not clear and that the did not read the plans correctly, prior to starting.”

  • Several student set out the bulkheads at 400mm finished
  • Many built a complete frame for the bulkhead
  • Most were unsure at how to space the TCR and Furring Channels
  • Overall they could not substitute components to build the bulkhead
  • Difficulties with centering access panels etc.

Posted in CB-A, CB-A Project, CPC08, CPSISC Coop, Qualifications, tafeSA, Training, Uncategorized, Wall & Ceiling Lining | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment