First graduates of Derby's new clay programmes

Clay Technology magazine
7 Sep 2016
L-R: Dr Rob Donnelly, Stephen Peach, Lee Taylor, Carl Cuthbert, Dr Andrew Smith and David Rockliff.

In a summer that has brought the UK more ‘firsts’ than many folks can recall, there has been a first that is very close to the heart of the UK clay brick sector. July saw the graduation of the first cohort of students on both the three year Foundation Degree (Science) in Clay Technology and the one year Diploma in Clay Studies Programmes from the Mineral Products Centre at the University of Derby, UK. What’s more, the four graduating Foundation Degree students (including Jamie Flint of Ibstock who unfortunately couldn’t attend the ceremony) all attained a ‘distinction’ classification in their final year’s work, achieving average course work and exam marks in excess of 70% throughout. Along with the Diploma cohort, this is not a bad achievement considering these guys also have challenging jobs within the UK brick manufacturing sector.

Likewise, the graduating Diploma students have had an outstanding year, all three graduating with between 60 and 100 credits at Level 5, equal to between 600 and 1,000 hours of study in the year.
This brings to a culmination a five year partnership between the University of Derby’s Mineral Products Centre and the International Clay Technology Association (ICTa), principally the ICT Education and Training Trust and Committee, and not least the efforts of a band of industry professionals that have created the Programmes that we see today. Jointly, the Mineral Products Centre and ICTa, with help from industry, have developed structured learning modules at Foundation Degree and Diploma, with emphasis on the characterisation, extraction and processing of raw materials, through to the clay preparation, forming, drying and firing - all the key stages associated with the manufacture of clay construction products.

Dr Andrew Smith, Programme Leader for the clay programmes commented, ‘It’s been great to see the 2016 graduating cohort achieve such outstanding results in their respective clay programmes. Hats off to these students, for the dedication to their studies whilst holding down challenging day jobs within the industry. Dr Rob Donnelly and I are proud of their achievements. We’ve both worked in and have been associated with the clay sector for a number of years, and are both passionate about the provision of technical and educational training that we can provide here at Derby. It’s a reward to see the graduates take the knowledge we pass on to them and for them to put it into practice, but above all fantastic to feel that all the guys are taking away a higher education qualification that truly reflects the significant effort they have put into the learning process. We are merely the facilitators - the students put in the hard work and rightly reap the deserved rewards at the end of the programmes. We both look forward to welcoming the next cohort into our charge and guiding them through the educational journey here at Derby.’

Thanks to IOM3, PMI and ICT Education and Training Trust. Without the funding they have provided, the course would not have been possible.

For those that are interested in the Clay Programmes taught at the University of Derby, information can be found at or contact Dr Andrew Smith at or +44 (0)1332 597989 to find out what’s on offer.

The Graduating Class of 2016

FdSc in Clay Technology

Carl Cuthbert – Forterra – Distinction

Jamie Flint – Ibstock – Distinction

Stephen Peach – Forterra – Distinction

Lee Taylor – Michelmersh Brick Holdings – Distinction

University Diploma in Clay Studies
(no classifications)

Stephen Brunton – Tarmac – Pass

Kevin Goddard – Forterra - Pass

Paul Lawery – Ibstock – Pass