The British Horse Society (BHS) and the sector’s awarding body, Equestrian Qualifications Ltd (EQL), today criticised the Government’s intention to remove equine vocational qualifications from GCSE school league tables.
Chief Executive Graham Cory said: “Whereas it makes for a headline-grabbing performance on the stump to denigrate vocational studies, the combination of entry-level animal science with the practical elements of horse husbandry in the equine vocational courses provide a challenge, the rigour of which can stand comparison with the majority of GCSEs.
“None will deny that it is vital for young people to leave school with sound basic skills, but nor will many assert that everyone is suited to wholly cerebral studies. Moreover, fostering the interests of this group while they also tackle subjects which have no practical element will often help keep them engaged at school.
“No-one takes equine vocational courses because they will help a school rise up the league table; they take them because they have a passion for the subject and a desire to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills necessary to help them in their chosen career path.”
The BHS point out that these Diploma qualifications are valued by employers where practical skills backed by a sound knowledge of relevant theory are vital. Young people can, through the Diplomas, work towards BHS qualifications which are recognised by Ofqual and which carry UCAS points, demonstrating that they possess the necessary rigour and quality assurance.
The BHS has written to the Department for Education asking ministers to reconsider a decision which has significant implications for the £4bn horse industry, particularly training centres and their staff.