Full steam ahead for 2019 Course

James Jones, Course Director reports on some exciting changes for the 2019 course

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe late Professor John Alliston and I have been managing the courses since 2002.  We kept refining and developing the course and, based on delegate feedback and demand for places, the formula seemed to be a highly successful one. Our partnership in running the JET courses continued after I left both the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and the Cotswolds to manage our farm on South Devon coast.  However, following John’s tragic death last summer, that can obviously no longer continue, which is a great source of sadness to me. But it is my wish, and I am sure it would have been John’s, that what we have built up together should be maintained and continue to develop.  I am supported in that by the JET Trustees, the JET Organising Committee and the RAU.  We have been working together to ensure this happens.
Venues and Timing  
Over time we have found the Grosvenor at Stockbridge was less able to provide what the delegates needed, but the RAU has worked well for the first module. With the JET Organising Committee we reviewed the timing of the modules and the most suitable venues. As a result the first two modules are to be held at the RAU in early and late January with the third module at the Marwell Hotel, Colden Common, near Winchester in late February. The Marwell offers much better facilities for the delegates when working together to prepare case studies and presentations.  Previously there had been a big time gap between the first module in November and second in January.  Feedback from scholars indicated that having the first two modules closer together will allow them to develop their team working and get more out of the course. Another real benefit of moving to the Marwell Hotel is that a bigger function room allows one alumni dinner to be held which will be open to all alumni.
There have previously always been two tutors running the course.  Obviously that has been the case with John and myself, but it was also the case in earlier years.  In 2019 I will be running the course as sole Course Director, but with support from several others.  There will be an enlarged role for Elizabeth Badger, the course administrator from the RAU.  Three support tutors have been recruited (one for each module) and I will also be able to call on assistance from Geoff Elliott. Geoff is a very experienced farmer-contractor based in Hampshire and very well known in the county.  He has been on the JET course and has been closely involved with the JET for a number of years on the interview panel.  He has had an involvement on all the courses that John and I have run. This will continue and delegates will be meeting him in Module One. He will also be involved in the Third Module, based in Hampshire, discussing future career development plans with delegates (a role that John and I previously both undertook during the Third Module).
The support tutor on the First Module will be Jonathan (‘Jonty’ to his friends) Brunyee. Jonathan is a Senior Lecturer in Farm Management at the RAU. He combines that role with managing his own 75 ha farm as a tenant of the National Trust on their estate at Sherborne, near Burford. He and his wife Mel run organic beef and sheep enterprises combined with farm diversification activities and agri-environment. They are active and long-established members of the Pasture for Life Association (PFLA). Jonathan undertook a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2015 travelling the world to learn more about pasture based systems.

The support tutor on the Second Module (in which we will do a farm business diversification case study) will be Chris Padfield. Chris not only attended the JET course in 2008/9 but has also completed the Worshipful Company of Farmers course held at the RAU. Like Jonathan he also completed a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2015. Chris is a third generation farmer managing his family’s 324 ha arable farm, with his wife Charlotte and his parents. The Hawthorns Estate includes residential and commercial property and a grain storage business. In addition to farming, Chris runs courses on practical skills associated with farming, some of which he does on behalf of the RAU, held at their Rural Skills Centre near Cirencester.
The support tutor on the Third Module (in which we will do an agricultural business case study) will be Ian Ashbridge. Ian attended the JET course in 2006/7. He started his career as a journalist becoming the Business Editor of the Farmers Weekly. He moved from there to Bidwells, the property management and consultancy firm, where he is now a Partner in the Agri-business Division based in the Oxford office. Part of his role involves overseeing the management of in hand farms for clients. He has also, in the past but not currently, had a part-time role lecturing to post graduate students at the RAU.
The purpose in bringing in the assistance of four tutors rather than just appointing one successor to John is twofold. It brings in a wider range of experience and knowledge than is likely to reside in one person and that can only enrich the experience of delegates on the programme. It also broadens the base of those who are familiar with the course and the way it operates. This can only be helpful, and may make succession easier when the time comes to replace me as well. All of those mentioned have both experience in practical farming and some involvement in teaching or tuition. Most have taken part in the JET programme themselves and Chris and Ian have been on the receiving end of courses run by John and myself. Together they represent a strong team. It has been really helpful that Geoff and the support tutors mentioned have been willing to help out in running the 2019 course and the Trust is very grateful to them.
Changing the venue for the Second Module will obviously bring with it changes to the visits that are such a valuable part of that part of the programme. But the format of the programme as a whole and the use of case studies that form the core of the Second and Third Modules will not alter. There are quite a lot of changes to absorb and new tutors to familiarise with the programme, but there are also new opportunities, better venues and new faces to help to support the tuition. I believe that these changes will allow the course to develop and thrive.
Dr James Jones, Course Director

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