Ptyxis Ecology - Our Botany Blog

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Grass identification and other botany CPD courses

*This post is from 2009 but we are running grass identification and other courses in 2011 - see our website for details*
We haven't updated the blog for a while as we've been flat out working - including developing CPD courses for next year. Running our own courses is a big risk for a small consultancy to take, but we are so aware of the limited provision for plant species identification and ecology courses in the UK of what professional ecologists really need - the FSC runs loads of courses, but many don't really have professional ecologists in mind - more amateur twitchers who want to see as many species as possible - and generally are not led by trained teachers (there are a few notable exceptions!), so we are trying to fill the gap.

As a teacher, I get frustrated that many people are paying out a lot in fees to attend courses that could be more professionally delivered. Being a v experienced ecologist or taxonomist does not make you an effective teacher. Tutors often don't differentiate their teaching. Differentiation is one of many professional teaching skills, that you are taught during a PGCE, but that takes experience to apply and do really well. It also takes a lot of extra work as you effectively prepare 3 or 4 different lessons for every element of your training course, so that you can offer different levels of learning to your group. This is crucial as in any adult group, no matter what you say on the course advert, you will ALWAYS get people with a mix of different aptitudes and abilities. Professional tuition should address this, and not just deliver a course at a vague mid-level for everyone, so that some people are left swamped and others are bored as it's all too basic.

Details of our 2009 ecology CPD courses are on our website at and include grass identification (focus on id of useful indicator species and using grasses to evaluate habitats and assess the botanical value of sites, rather than a 'lets see loads and loads of species' approach), aquatic plant identification and a wildlife law training workshop.