Some years ago I had the privilege of refereeing a rugby match at Hadlow College in Kent. This is top Agricultural College - with a range of courses from a Certificate in Land Based Studies - with no entry qualifications - to BA Hons and BSC Hons degrees.
The men who made up the rugby team were hardy types - they were used to being outside in all weathers. Some of the men were working the land and others with animals.
I left home to set out for the game on a cold afternoon - without a cloud in the sky. There was a pleasant and reserved welcome from the home captain. The opposition team arrived just after I had had a welcome cup of hot tea,
We ran out onto the field on time. There were about 70 spectators - after all this was a college event. Fifteen minutes into the game the conditions changed. The sky darkened - and about five minutes later snow began to fall.
In a very short time there was so much snow on the field that the white lines had disappeared. As the flurries of snow grew stronger the spectators drifted away. A scrum collapsed. A front row forward had his face pushed into a lump of snow. He rose from the ground, cold and wet, and used a string of colourful language to describe the conditions.
I blew the whistle for half time - even though we had only just reached quarter time. The linesmen had already left for the security and warmth of the common room. We never went out again. I do remember that a senior member of staff managed to develop a lethal alcoholic punch.
The students took it all in their stride. I am sure they simply chalked the events up as experience.
So when you dream of your child entering university, and you picture your most loved offspring curled up in a chair in the common room or snug in the library, think of the young men and women who would hate to carve a life in an office. Think of hardy young people who relish the idea of leaving their warm beds at five o’clock every day of the year to milk the cows and muck out the stables.
You are aiming at a grammar school. You want the best possible academic education for your child. But in the end your child will make up his or her mind.
You can study at Hadlow from two hours a week to three years full time.
The full time courses range over Animal Management, Agriculture and Machinery as well as Fisheries and Equine.
There are short courses in gardening, chainsaw operation, tractor maintenance and stable management.
So now you know, if you child does decide to do a course at Hadlow you can be confident that answers so some questions will come easily. After all it does take a special type of brain to be able to answer some reasoning questions. For example:
A Hadlow College student had to look after three horses called Jock, Windy and Sandy. The white horse was not called Jock. Jock was not brown. Sandy was not brown.
The brown horse was called ..
The white horse was called ..
The black horse was called …