The First Certificate in Engineering, awarded by Edexcel (provider of internationally recognised qualifications), involves a mix of practical and theoretical study and is equivalent to two GSCEs. The project represents a brand new development in vocational education.
Ifan Jones, Gomer Morgan, Robin Roberts and Nic Thomas spend two hours at Boston Lodge each Monday morning learning the practical aspects of engineering, such as use of machine tools and welding, from qualified FR staff members Andrew Bird and Garry German. This is complemented by a further two hours in school on a Wednesday studying such topics as maths for engineers, materials selection and the use of computer aided design(CAD).
During their time in the engineering works the boys have learned four machining techniques – turning, milling, drilling and grinding, as well as Mig welding and the use of a number of hand and power tools. They have practised their new found skills by producing a range of items including stainless steel suspension pins for locomotives, parts for train couplings and two yard trolleys.
During the second year of the course, the four will go into more detail on some of the machine tools, developing their skills to a higher level. They have started work dismantling an ex Great Western Railway slate waggon and will use their skills to machine the replacement parts required to completely renovate the truck.
Progress made over the first year has been such that the decision has been made to move the students from the First Certificate to the First Diploma in Engineering. This is equivalent to four GCSEs rather than two and reflects the hard work put in and the levels of skills shown by the students both at School and at the Ffestiniog Railway.
On Monday 13 July at Boston Lodge, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, presented the students with certificates from the FR marking the completion of their first year.
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said: 'This is a wonderful scheme and I congratulate the Festiniog Railway for their partnership with Ysgol Eifionydd in providing it. It is an opportunity for the students to get the hands-on experience they don't have in school. I look forward to seeing the boys complete the course next year.'