Agricultural students from schools across Derbyshire and Staffordshire gathered at the Agricultural Business Centre in Bakewell to showcase their skills at a special inter-schools competition, which took place at the annual National Sheep Association (NSA) Central Region Early Gathering.
The NSA Next Generation Inter-Schools Shepherds Competition, which was organised by Derbyshire-based training provider DART Training, gave teams of up to four 14 – 16 year old students the chance to showcase their sheep husbandry skills, with activities ranging from drenching and dagging to foot trimming and condition scoring.
Schools with learners who attend schools programmes through DART Training included Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashbourne, Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth, Lady Manners School in Bakewell and Buxton Community and Leek High Schools.
A joint team from Leek High and Buxton Community schools secured top spot on the day, with Abbotsholme School in Rocester taking second place and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashbourne coming third.
DART Training’s Agricultural day link course delivers Key Stage 4 learning in line with the teaching syllabus at local schools, while meeting the requirements of City and Guilds national qualifications.
Students on the courses offered by DART Training also follow a day release course, which involves practical placement learning with local agricultural and horticultural employers or animal care and veterinary practices.
Aside from the competition, the learners, who attended the event with DART tutors and assessors, spent the day watching demonstrations and attending seminars, browsing the trade stands and getting advice and information from the experts.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. The NSA holds bi–annual agricultural events throughout the UK, which deliver essential information from the sheep industry including live exhibits from breed societies, facets of new technology and sheep health, whilst providing a suitable meeting point for regional sheep farmers.
Commenting on the event, Anne Morgan, managing director of DART Training said:
“It was great to see our students battle it out for top spot at this year’s annual inter-schools competition. It allowed them to showcase the skills they’ve gained at their respective schools, DART placements and tutor-led group work, which has been facilitated through placement opportunities provided by farmers throughout Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
“The students were really put through their paces with various sheep handling tasks and had to draw on everything they had learned so far in order to complete some of the tasks.
“Our thanks go out to everyone who supported the event with sponsorship and prizes for the shepherding competition, including Bakewell Veterinary Clinic Ltd, M G Simister and Son Ltd, Griffiths Mill, Blue Merle, Torne Valley Country Stores, Lester Lowe Ltd, Mole Valley Country Stores, Sarah Heliwell.
“Special thanks also go to Ann Litchfield for organising the competition, to Mick Burnett for the loan of the sheep, George Case and Bill Jones for their time judging and DART tutors Ann, Tim Clark and Hannah Taylor,” added Anne.
DART Training Ltd is a recognised leader in the provision of apprenticeships and work-based learning and is well known for its strong involvement in and support for rural communities.
The company was founded in 1999 to meet the training needs of those working in the land-based industries and is is now part of Nantwich-based Reaseheath College. Its office and operational base is in Shardlow in Derbyshire and the geographical areas it covers include the East and West Midlands and Yorkshire.