11th November 2011 at 00:00

Shiver me timbers!

Well, that's it, everyone. Time to pack it all in and go home. Blackpool and the Fylde College has just won the further education game; thanks for playing, everyone else, but in the end you just couldn't compete.

Why the drama? Because Blackpool and the Fylde has created the best college course ever, one which will surely never be topped: a two-week guide to resisting attack by pirates. Arrrrgghh!

On the one hand, it's an impressive example of colleges' adaptability, offering comprehensive training to ex-military staff who might be hired to protect merchant ships following the prime minister's announcement that vessels passing through the hunting ground of Somali pirates would be able to carry armed guards. On the other: pirates! Captain Jack Sparrow! Yo ho ho! Grog! Splice the mainbrace!

FErret confesses to a slight feeling of disappointment that the course does not focus more on swinging from a mast and kicking pirates into the sea, instead emphasising techniques to evade pirate ships or warn them off with acoustic guns.

Deadly weaponry is only recommended as a last resort (and depending on prior military experience - the course is not combat training).

Still, it's pretty badass all the same: the lead instructor is former soldier turned maritime security expert Lea Balmforth, who poses for his LinkedIn profile picture aiming a shotgun from a yacht. And it is, FErret feels, a boon to the image of further education. Who would dare call hyper-specific vocational courses "Mickey Mouse" after this? It's more like Steven Seagal's character in Under Siege, defeating the mercenaries to take back his ship. So much for the Cinderella sector: FErret hereby renames FE "the Seagal sector".

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today