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Studying painting and decorating at college

Roo Anderson is studying Level 1 Painting and Decorating at East Sussex College.

I moved to Hastings in September, and I’m glad I did. Where I lived before, I only had the option of A-Level colleges, but this college gave me lots of options.

Everything I heard or read about the college was online. I did lots of research before I moved down to Hastings and read the good ratings and reviews. There weren’t many negative things at all.

Why I chose painting and decorating

I wanted to join the painting and decorating course because my dad is in the construction industry, and it seems like a good industry to go into. There always seems like there will be a demand for construction workers, particularly decorators.

Read more: What it’s like to be an apprentice

During the course, I have learnt how to wallpaper, how to paint walls, practise decorative effects, such as sponge stippling, rag rolling off and rag rolling on, stencilling, and learnt how to paint woodwork and panels. I also know about the different types of paints, such as water-based and oil-based, and how to use them correctly.

Before the course, my only experience with painting and decorating was a little bit of DIY around the house with my mum, but I’ve never really done any proper painting and decorating.

Finding out more about the course

I wasn’t able to come to an open event, but I booked a college tour during the day. I was able to visit all the workshops, see the students in lessons and then chat with the course leader, Tony. He was brilliant at explaining what the course was about, what I’d be learning, and what it was like here. He really sold it to me, and I couldn’t wait to join.

Tony is an outstanding teacher and an expert in this industry. Because he is so knowledgeable and skilled, I sometimes feel nervous when he’s watching me. But it’s all good. He’s good at helping us learn for ourselves. Sometimes I’ll ask a question, and he’ll give me some of the answers and leave me to work it out. But if you are really struggling, then he will do everything he can to help you.

Choosing the right college

The college is a really great place to study. The facilities are really good and modern. Our workshop is always well stocked with materials, paints and all the different types of paint brushes, everything you need to help you learn, they have. I’ve not had to buy anything for myself. We’ve also got computer rooms, a library full of books, and an interactive whiteboard so we can study in the workshops.

There is a fair bit of theory involved with painting and decorating. We have two online exams and five paper exams that are multiple-choice, they’re not hard, but you still have to study.

Getting experience

Outside of the classroom, I’ve had really great opportunities to learn. The college helped us to find work experience placements, and I got involved with painting a movie set.

A film crew were shooting a new movie in an old church in St Leonards, and it needed a bit of a facelift. It was for a creepy horror movie, so the church worked really well with all the old dormitories. We painted the rooms and got them ready for the crew to start shooting the film.

Having the opportunity to do work experience was really valuable. It taught me that working in the industry may require you to get into some really awkward spaces. At college, we’re learning in square cubicles, and you can easily get to where you want to go. But in the industry, it won’t always be like that.

What’s next?

Next year I’d like to study Level 2 Painting and Decorating course, and in the future, I have aspirations to join the navy. I had applied previously but didn’t make it through, and they suggested that I went away got a few qualifications in something that I enjoy, and then try again. But if that doesn’t work out, then I’d still love to be a painter and decorator.

I’d definitely recommend this college to other people mainly because I really got on here. I completely flourished and turned into the person I am supposed to be. I wasn’t the best at secondary school, but I came here, and I turned into myself I suppose.

Find out more the at East Sussex College here.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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