Meet a floristry teacher.

Natasha Hattersley—The Northern Sydney Institute

I am the Head Teacher at The Northern Sydney Institute, which is part of TAFE NSW. I am responsible for managing the educational delivery of the Floristry training package programs. My role is largely administrative but also allows me to be creative when we manage large events and functions as part of our educational delivery.

I have been working for TAFE NSW for the last ten years. I started my floristry career twenty years ago as a junior florist, working part-time in a florist shop and studying at TAFE to gain my qualification. Over the next ten years I worked hard to gain as much industry knowledge and experience as possible by working in florist businesses ranging from small suburban shops to larger retail and warehouse operations. I immersed myself in the industry by attending industry events and becoming familiar with industry publications and books. After ten years of working as a florist I gained employment as a full-time teacher at the TAFE. As part of my employment conditions, I undertook a Bachelor of Education and Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training to gain my teaching qualifications. I had opportunities to act in the role of Head Teacher a couple of times early in my teaching career, and this enabled me to develop my skills and experience in this role. I progressed to teacher in charge at The Northern Sydney Institute in 2007 and became Head Teacher in 2010.

In our industry, professionalism is the key to success. To be a professional you need to gain skills and continue to grow and develop throughout your career. I believe the industry respects training and the need to gain a qualification to be deemed a professional florist. Beyond this there is also a need for florists to maintain their skills and remain up-to-date with new techniques, trends and products by attending demonstrations and industry events and undertaking professional development courses such as those offered at The Northern Sydney Institute’s Ryde Campus. Much like the fashion industry, we need to continue to develop and reinvent ideas and concepts to keep our customers interested and maintain our sales. We have to be market leaders, always presenting products our customers feel compelled to purchase.

I would like to see the industry embrace newcomers and trainees, as they are the future of our industry and bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm. The government provides financial support for florists to take on a floristry student under a traineeship at Certificate III and IV level. This is a great opportunity and one the industry should embrace to ensure a bountiful supply of qualified and experienced florists in the future. The details on training opportunities vary from state to state, so anyone interested should do some research and make their own local enquiries. In New South Wales for example, floristry training is open to anyone who wishes to enrol and gain a vocational floristry qualification to work in the industry. All of the certificate qualifications (Certificates II, III, IV and Diploma) are nationally recognised. Supported traineeships are available at a Certificate III and IV level and these involve the employer signing up an employee under a contractual agreement where students are learning both on campus and in the workplace. Apprenticeships are not available in New South Wales; however, these work in a similar manner to traineeships and are offered in other places such as Victoria.

I love my role as it challenges me and has allowed me to grow and develop my skills in floristry and many other areas. I really enjoy working with the training package documents and developing assessment tasks linked to the outcomes, as well as developing interesting resources for class delivery or online. I enjoy managing my teaching team, assisting them to inspire learning in our students and supporting them in their role. Some of the benefits of the role include being involved in a range of industry events and promoting floristry as a fun and rewarding career. I enjoy the feeling of seeing students succeed in their chosen career and seeing their creativity and confidence grow throughout their time at the Northern Sydney Institute.

My typical day involves meetings and communication with teachers, management and students to ensure a smooth operation. I am responsible for the promotion of the section, the budget, human and physical resources and the curriculum which includes ensuring the delivery and assessments are compliant, high quality and meet national training package requirements. I spend time liaising with students, employers, industry organisations and teaching staff and ensuring quality in every aspect of what we do. In addition to the management role, a head teacher is required to teach a required number of hours each year. In contrast, a floristry teacher is much more closely involved with students. Typically a teacher is responsible for programming their class, developing lesson plans and resources for delivery and delivering lessons to students. Lessons involve both theoretical and practical content and teachers are required to maintain and update their skills regularly so they are delivering the most up-to-date skills and knowledge to their students. In addition, teachers are involved with section activities and events such as showcases, external displays and events to promote floristry.

The role of a teacher is quite a leap from that of a florist, especially in terms of the shift from working in a largely practical and ‘hands on’ environment to working in one that has an academic element in terms of interpreting training package documents, developing learning programs and structuring lesson content, as well as developing appropriate resources. There is a necessity to be reasonably computer literate to be able to utilise the systems and develop electronic resources for delivery. Teachers should also have a reasonable amount of experience in a range of enterprises or have owned a business, as this knowledge that comes from experience is invaluable and a source of great learning for those new to the industry.

Teachers are constantly required to be engaging in industry and keeping their skills updated and this often involves attending events on weekends or after hours. The role is very people-orientated which does suit many people already working in the industry. It is a fantastic feeling to have inspired and shared your knowledge and years of experience with the next generation of florists.

Floristry is a demanding but rewarding career with some great opportunities for someone who enjoys working with people and would like to work in a creative industry. If you are a hard worker and understand that time is money, you will always do well. There are not too many careers where you can get paid for something that most people pay to do as their hobby!

Careers in flowers and foliage