Ag Challenge has taken over delivery of the Level 3 NZ certificate in Animal Care — Equine Strand at horse mad Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton.

Nga Tawa is the only girls boarding school in the country with an on-campus equestrian centre and animal care is a vital part of the equation.

Nga Tawa director of equestrian Libby Rayner said 83 students are enrolled in the equestrian programme, 40 of whom are undertaking the equine studies.

"We used deliver the equine studies ourselves through Primary ITO, but now Ag Challenge has taken over delivery of the animal care programme," Mrs Rayner said.

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"Ag Challenge has been a magnificent supporter of ours and sponsor our annual inter-school horse sports. Peter Macdonald (director's executive), in particular, put so much into the day as compere and announcer — he was outstanding," she said.

The programme has been delivered to the students over two years but a selected few students may elect to study it over the one year as this could be there last year at school.

Within in each context, students will learn about recognition of abnormal behaviour and signs of ill health, handling and carrying out specialist health maintenance tasks, feed and nutrition, animal ethics and welfare codes.

Within a context some further specialist knowledge and skills will also be taught.

The programme aims to provide a pathway for two streams of students:
Year 12/13 secondary school students to gain credits for NCEA Level 3 and could pathway into Vet Nursing or Rural Animal Technician or a similar equine qualification; or following on to other tertiary study.

"The purpose of this qualification is to provide individuals with the skills, knowledge and attributes to maintain the welfare of animals in the companion, recreation, or lifestyle block animal sectors," Mr Macdonald said.

"This qualification is targeted at individuals who are, or are intending to be, caring for animals in non-production context, for example, pet stores, animal rescue centres, pet groomers, boarding and training facilities, lifestyle blocks, and animal recreation/tourism businesses.

"The community will benefit from a qualification that ensures individuals in a wide range of animal care roles can care for the welfare of animals within welfare standards and practices.

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"Graduates of this qualification are likely to be employed in a range of businesses associated with the care of animals."

Ag Challenge has a tutor working with the on-site instructors and teachers on a weekly basis.

Sonya Glennie has had years and a lifetime around horses and is employed by Ag Challenge to oversee and tutor our Equine programmes delivery

"Sonya is working with Nga Tawa and will undertake to verify and assess all students competency as part of her involvement," Mr Macdonald said.

"This is an exciting programme to be working with Nga Tawa on and we look forward to the continued relationship going forward and to provide the girls from Nga Tawa an exciting programme that can lead to a variety of Animal related employment options but allows them to maintain their first interest being horses.

"We are looking at this programme supporting and providing Nga Tawa to continue in the development of the facilities and infrastructure within the equestrian academy by improvements to fencing and water supply in say stables as part of the programme as we would like students to undertake assessment activities in a real sense not training."

Ag Challenge has been enabled to deliver this programme free of charge to the school utilising a pilot fund that has been available for use in schools called DPP or Dual Pathway Partnership.

"In its simplest terms this allows students in Y12/13 who are 16 or over to study up to 42 credits each year. Not bad given that this Animal Care programme is 72 credits for the whole qualification, so we are delivering approximately 36 credits each year so in two years they have the opportunity to achieve the whole thing."