A LEADING Northumberland institution has adapted to new ways of delivering its agricultural education programmes.

Northumberland College's campus at Kirkley Hall, near Ponteland, is home to its land-based, animal and outdoor courses.

The 400 acre site houses the college's dedicated agriculture and arboriculture workshops, a large zoo, an equestrian centre and valuable areas of land and gardens to give students vital hands-on experience.

Despite a temporary nationwide closure of all colleges, universities and schools, Northumberland College praised the dedication and diligence of its staff.

"All of our students moved to remote learning where they were supported by our curriculum staff," a spokesman said.

"Our students’ achievements have not been affected by the lockdown, with the vast majority completing their qualifications within the normal timescale and those identified on delayed qualifications supported to achieve.

"All work placements were suspended unless social distancing was agreed and supported on local farms to assist with lambing."

Demand for courses remains high with the college positive about the future after recruting for its animal care and Level 3 in Agriculture courses.

All classes and students have been fully briefed of the college's Covid-19 health and safety measures to ensure their safety.

But despite the restrictions, teaching will somewhat remain the same.

"It is business as usual for us, training the students in their agricultural programmes of study," the spokesman added.

"We have worked hard to engage local industry and providers this year in our curriculum design, ensuring we are delivering the required skills the students will need to enter the industry successfully.

"This work will continue as we plan for the next academic year where we will also be establishing a Rural Forum to support the colleges engagement and collaboration with local industry and the wider sector.

"The agricultural sector is always challenged by many factors and it is important that clear collaboration is both sustained and monitored to keep farming at the heart of the county."