Academy of Floral Art
Let us introduce ourselves…
The Academy of Floral Art is a unique, independent and inspirational floristry school with an outstanding reputation for floristry excellence…and fun!
Julie Collins and Tina Parkes founded the Academy a decade ago, and today – modesty aside – have the most highly qualified and award-winning floristry teaching team in the country. We are the people to help you discover your full potential.
We are all firm believers in life-long learning and practice it ourselves. We know what it’s like to juggle work, home and training, so we make our courses flexible, modular, hands-on and packed with information and inspiration.
Meet the Academy team:
Julie Collins (Principal)
BTec ND, ICSF, Cert Ed, City&Guilds MDPF (Level 5 – British Master), Institute of Professional Florists (IoPF) Academic Fellow
On starting out: “I started my career in the bank, but found there was a limit to how creative I could be with a bag of coins! So in 1996, I decided to change careers and re-trained as a florist, developing a successful wedding flower business and teaching floristry at Bicton College.”
Proudest floristry moment: “I completed my Master Diploma in Professional Floristry with City & Guilds in 2011 was thrilled to receive the Teleflower ‘Floristry Student of the Year’ award in both Practical and Theory. I loved the creative challenge and design development of the Level 5 course, and now I get to share that enthusiasm with my students.”
Academy Highlight: “I am very proud of the Academy Level 2 and 3 courses that Tina and I developed. We have taken elements of the traditional courses, and given them a European twist, which means lots of hands-on, practical experience to bring students on more quickly in the early stages.”
Tina Parkes (Principal)
NDSF, FBFA, CERT ED, Dutch Master, AIFD (US Master), LCGI, City & Guilds MDPF (Level 5 – British Master), Institute of Professional Florists (IoPF) Academic Fellow and RHS Chelsea Gold medallist
On starting out: “I started in floristry at 16 on a YTS scheme and just loved it from the start! I worked in a flower shop in Exmouth, studied for my floristry exams and ended up managing the shop, before moving to Bicton College as Head of Floristry.”
Proudest floristry moment: “I’m currently the only English florist to hold a Dutch Masters, and have since been awarded the American Masters (AIFD), British Masters (Level 5) and – at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – an RHS Chelsea Gold medal.”
Academy Highlight: “Teaching floristry is a real passion for me, and I really believe in the importance of teaching technique and design well. I’m on the BFA’s Education and Training Board and demonstrate to florists all over the world, but nothing is more satisfying than seeing our Academy students progress over the course of their time with us”.
Amanda Randell-Cox (Tutor)
LCGI, City & Guilds MDPF (Level 5 – British Master), Institute of Professional Florists (IoPF) Academic Fellow and RHS Chelsea Gold medallist, AIFD (US Master)
On starting out: “I trained with Royal Warrant Holders, Moyses Stevens in London, before spending five years creating flowers for Disney in Paris. I went on to own an award-winning flower shop in Devon for six years before selling it to become a studio-based event and wedding florist, which I still do alongside teaching.“
Proudest Floristry Moment: “I first came to the Academy as a student myself on the C&G Level 4 course. Going on to do the Level 5 with Tina was the best thing I ever did with regard to my career and my ability to run a successful business. It opened my eyes to the world of floral design and the floristry industry as a whole. Inspired by the Academy, I have gone on to win an RHS Chelsea Gold medal and pass the American Masters exams with the AIFD.”
Academy Highlight: “I have always been passionate about promoting this wonderful industry, so teaching at the Academy is a dream job for me! I just love teaching, sharing some of the skills, techniques and encouraging the students to achieve more than they thought possible.”
Kathryn Delve (Tutor)
HDIF (BSC Hons), ACIB, Academy of Floral Art Level 3, City & Guilds Level 4, Institute of Professional Florists (IoPF) Senior Member and AIFD (US Master).
On starting out: “Like Julie, I started out in the Bank until I caught the floristry bug 14 years ago! I went on a floristry course at Weston-super-Mare College, did work experience at my local florist shop, became a NAFAS member and started studying at the Academy of Floral Art. I now have my own wedding and event floristry business in North Somerset.”
Proudest floristry moment: “I was thrilled to gain a distinction my Academy Level 3 exam and then complete the City & Guilds Level 4 course with the Academy. In fact, my proudest floristry moments have all been through the Academy: I won first place in the Manchester heat of WorldSkills UK, was part of our RHS Hampton Court exhibit, and passed the American Masters AIFD.”
Academy highlight: “I now teach the Academy’s Level 2 and 3 courses at Country Baskets in Bristol, which is such an honour. Having learnt so much with the Academy, it is great to be able to pass that knowledge on to floristry’s newest recruits!”
Tina Young (Tutor)
RHS Horticultural Cert, Institute of Professional Florists (IoPF) Senior Member, Floristry BAFA level 2 & 3
On starting out: “After gaining my RHS I spend 14 years at a privately-owned hotel in charge of a 28-acre estate. I went on to train as a Florist at the Academy and now run a freelance Floristry and Horticulture business side by side.”
Proudest floristry moment: “I’d say it’s embarking on my level 4 at the Academy, which develops and expands my design skills while being surrounded by like-minded people. We all learn from each other, and it is like a wonderfully creative bubble, and that is me at my happiest.”
Academy highlight: “The last three years have just been one big highlight but being asked to join the Academy teaching team must be the icing on the cake.”
Karen Taylor (Tutor)
NVQ 2 &3, I.C.S.F & Cert Ed
On starting out: “I started out working as a Dental Nurse and then a Clerical Officer in the MOD, but when my children started school, I decided I wanted to re-train. I have always loved all types of art and craft and am entranced by flowers and particularly greenery, so floristry really appealed to me. I enrolled on a course at Bicton and at the same time was offered part-time work in a local florist. That was the start of my love of floristry, I was well and truly hooked!”
Proudest floristry moment: “After four years of floristry training at Bicton College (gaining top student in practical and theory for two years running), I was lucky to be offered the opportunity to teach recreational classes. I undertook my teacher training and ended up teaching the industry qualification and became an NVQ Assessor in the workplace. I feel if you are lucky enough to pursue a career you love and are passionate about it, there is no greater feeling. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to share and pass on my skills and knowledge, and see the pleasure and confidence it brings to students, of all ages and abilities.”
Academy Highlight: “Having enjoyed working for Bicton College for many years, I felt ready for a change and a new challenge. I feel particularly honoured to be asked to join the Academy teaching team. I know how dedicated and aspirational both Tina and Julie are, nothing is impossible, the sky’s the limit and also how positive, enthusiastic and supportive the other tutors are too. The Academy offers high-quality teaching and courses that are flexible to suit all needs, and I am so excited to be part of such a talented, inspirational team and to work in such beautiful surroundings. Happy days!”