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PCM Overview

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Advanced Certificate in Arboriculture

Practical Contract Management


SRUC, Barony Campus has had possible inquiries on interest of work from members of the public as well as companies for students projects. In the past this has been from such areas as local farmers, pensioners, ecological survey companies as well as from local councils.

This has always been done for free promoting a local goodwill and 'word of mouth' promotion. However, since 2011 another practical element has been introduced into the Advanced Certificate in Arboriculture course. Which was to give students an opportunity of authentic experience working out with the college in a environment where professionalism is paramount and preparation and planning is carried out by themselves for these contracts.

In order to make this more beneficial it was decided to help the students by charging a nominal fee to the clients well below the current commercial value. The monies from these exercises were ring fenced and used to purchase Arboriculture equipment at a local dealership for the students.

The Jobs that have come in are from 'Word of Mouth' and are not solicited from staff or students at Barony Campus. The main concern was that this exercise may take priority for the students rather than their College unit work.

The Practical Contract Management (PCM) unit provides the Arboriculture students with a real authentic learning experience, giving them opportunities to shine as real 'Employable Students'.

The PCM has been developed to assist students in project planning, e-communicating, e-mentoring and collaborating within online team Forums (Moodle). Teams will be actively recording and providing digital evidence, such as digital CV's, annotated images, Drone and GoPro video evidence within a collaborative e-Porfolio (Mahara) group setting.



Moodle is SRUC's secure online learning platform which is designed to provide teaching staff and students with an interactive and engaging online learning, e-Assessment and teaching environment, which can be accessed with any Internet enabled device from anywhere in the world at any time.

The Moodle online learning environment will be used throughout the PCM unit for:

  • Online forums - Communication, collaboration, knowledge and digital evidence sharing, problem solving, mentoring and peer support for all stages of the PCM.
  • Online support - Online support for the PCM topic areas and technologies used for your PCM project.
  • Team-based formative e-Assessment - For all stages of the PCM, teams will be scored according to formative assessment criteria for their online forums and evidence provided within their team-based e-Portfolio Mahara pages.
  • Online Gradebook -  Each student will have access to their own personal online gradebook which will hold their teams scores for all stages of the PCM unit.



Mahara is SRUC's fully featured online e-Portfolio platform which is a secure students personal learning environment. The Mahara online e-Portfolio allows students (individually or within teams) with full control to collect, reflect upon and share their achievements and development with their lecturers, Mahara friends, Mahara groups and even over the world over the Internet. 

Basically, an e-Portfolio is a learner-driven collection of digital content demonstrating knowledge, experiences, achievements and evidence of learning.

The Mahara online personal learning environment will be used throughout the PCM unit for:

  • Connected group of pages for Information and Instruction - Carefully crafted collection of Mahara pages which contain information and instructions specific to the PCM unit, which include downloadable informational and template documents. 
  • Connected group of template pages for team-based digital evidence - Collaborating, building and embedding rich based digital evidence according to instructions, formative based assessment descriptor and conclusions made within the Moodle forums.
  • 360 Degree Feedback - Team will receive and act upon feedback provided by subject-based peers and the lecturer throughout their connected group of (Mahara) pages.
  • Copy and export - Individually copy accomplished team connected Mahara pages and export (including all embedded digital evidence) in order to showcase in the future to potential employers.

Integration of Course Units


In order to try and customise and streamline the Practical Contract Management (PCM) it was decided this year to tie in evidence of unit requirements from the training that the students receive during their time at College. This aims to work towards supplying evidence for units eventually so that there is a time gain during the course giving a strong sense of reality and functionality to the course, making the Practical Contract Management a true authentic experience in a real world scenario for the Arboriculture students.

The following units will be utilised throughout the Practical Contract Management project:

Core skills of Literacy level 5


Reading and understanding word based text- RA, creation of correspondence-letter to client, creating, read and follow risk assessments.

 Numeracy level 5


This has partial relevance in such tasks as dealing with rations of oil/fuel mixes, height measurements of trees for safe felling in gardens using hypsometers. Also measurements of tree girths as DBH and crown spread for tree surveys.

Where viable any felled timber of value can be measured using Huber’s formulae for specifications to timber merchants.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) level 5


This is where student require correspondence by e mail to clients, word processing of documents.

Other jobs that have been done are tree surveys in local parks in Dumfries where information is tabulated for the client.

Research as to diseases and sometimes tree species is also required to give more depth to reports.

Tree Identification Level 6

undefinedThis is necessary when conversing with clients in order to establish the trees you are working on and to understand the physiological characteristics of the trees you are dealing with.

It is fundamental the knowledge as an arborist when dealing with trees and will certainly give a more professional approach.

This unit tests your identification on trees both in their winter and summer forms. In addition you have covered the use of tree keys for identifying what may not have fallen in the remit for identification.

Felling and processing Large and storm damaged trees

undefinedThese two units are imperative to the Arborist where in many circumstances clients wish to have trees removed.

Either because they have become a danger or that they no longer feel that these trees fit in their environment from the clients perspective.

Understanding the safe techniques which need to be employed when either felling large trees especially hardwoods and trees which are windblown or partially windblown is crucial in safety and efficiency.

Pest and Diseases

undefinedHere we can see that the trees we look at will need advice to clients as to what might be wrong with the tree, what can be done so either save or replace it.

Not all trees are able to be saved and we need to know what suitable replacements can be used so as to incur the same problems and within a client’s remit of what they may wish from our advice.

Pests are a situation where in many cases elimination through control methods is feasible. This unit through your own research has given you the information in order to identify the various diseases found on trees and the various pests which can affect them.

The research you have put in will also help you to identify problems which you may not have come across before and approach with a systematic procedure.

Land Based Forest Machinery Maintenance level 6

undefinedHere we will have the ability to maintain such items as chippers which can be useful in reducing tree waste from gardens for further transportation.

It is also a process of rendering tree branches into a useable product such as mulch in gardens and so a sellable produce.

To be able to maintain these machines and others keeps ourselves safe and cuts down on costs such as breakdowns and will reduce labour time when doing contracts.

Tree Climbing and Tree surgery level 5

undefinedAll of these units and the links in them will assist you the climber, grounds person and team leader in dealing with the various contracts that need to be covered.



'Employable Student' Mindmap