Yesterday morning I was on BBC Radio Wiltshire being asked to respond to a news story that Government ministers have backed a qualification in hunting.
Well, anyone who has even a cursory understanding of how the national qualification framework works (as I hope I do, having worked for six years in Higher Education before joining the League) knows that ministers have done no such thing. There is a very light touch regulatory arrangement for NVQ course design with the relevant authority preferring to let the market decide what is and what isn’t worthwhile, so the top line being pushed that government ministers backed an NVQ in Hunting doesn’t pass the smell test.
This NVQ in Hunting is actually an NVQ in ‘Animal Care’ with an optional week’s module studying hunting practice. It’s run by a commercial training firm with strong personal links to hunts and the Masters of Fox Hounds Association.
It also emerged that this isn’t a brand new qualification, so you have to wonder about the provenance of the news reports. I said on the radio that this has a lot more merit as a publicity stunt than as an educational qualification and I stand by that. Hunting by any standard is incredibly amateur and the ultimate it’s not what you know but who you know industry. Just as they are behind the curve in terms of civil society’s attitude to cruelty they are very behind the curve in terms of professional development of staff.
The rebuttal from the MFHA is that we are against animal care courses, fortunately they linked to the radio broadcast where not only did I say no such thing, I said the complete opposite. Young people should take an interest in caring for animals and fortunately there are a huge number of animal care and animal science courses available throughout the country, and absence of hunting practices from those syllabuses is due to the incompatibility of hunting practices with the core principles of animal care.
In Wiltshire, where this training provider is based, Wiltshire College offers a range on respected animal courses and in communication with the League the College confirmed “we do not include teaching of hunting practices within these programmes” and that “students are not required to be involved in hunting as part of their programme.”
So, not only is there no need to teach hunting practices on an animal care course, there is no local need for animal care courses, save only for the publicity seeking urges of the MFHA.
The idea that they link a few people studying for a week at NVQ level will make the public believe their vocation is professional and can be trusted to manage a hypothetical Hunt Regulatory Authority, when they can’t even discipline huntsmen convicted of assault or stop hunts trespassing on railway lines is as laughable as it is transparent.
Photo: Martin Hicks