Horsemen Project Pilot Phase

St. John’s Central College coordinated the pilot phase of the Horsemen project and produced two published project reports. (Copies of these reports may be obtained in the college library). During the pilot phase the Horse-care module was delivered at centres in Hungary, Ireland and Spain. The centres were:

  • Foundation Manos Tendidas, Pinto, Spain
  • First Hungarian-Danish Production School Foundation, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary
  • St. John’s Central College of Further Education and Training, Cork, Ireland

A total of twenty-six students ranging in age from sixteen to fifty-six participated on the pilot phase of the project. Of these eighteen were from the Traveller/Roma community and a further eight were migrant workers of South American and North African origin. Three of the students were female.

??Student uptake from the client group to participate on the course was good in all three pilot countries. Clearly the module is attractive to students and from the evidence of the site visits there is a very real sense of enthusiasm and interest from the participating students in each country. It is interesting to note that the profile of the participating students in each country was significantly different. This fact demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of the module, specifically it’s suitability to people of different ages and from different socio-economic backgrounds. It is also clear that interest in the module is not exclusive to members of the travelling community. In Spain the participating students on the pilot phase were migrant workers and although these students were not originally targeted for inclusion on the pilot phase their participation was perhaps fortuitous as they clearly demonstrate how successfully the module can be delivered to students who are not members of the travelling community but would be socially excluded in society.

??In Spain and Hungary the Horse-care Module was delivered as part of a broader course of study whereas in Ireland it was delivered as a stand-alone module. There was substantial variation in the amount of time allocated to module delivery in each country ranging from 70 hours in Ireland, 265 hours in Hungary to 600 hours in Spain. This fact combined with variation in the Performance Criteria applied between each pilot location, resulted in the same module being offered at different levels at the pilot centres. This clearly demonstrates the degree of flexibility inherent in the module but equally calls for debate in relation to the level at which the module should be set. In Ireland there is a clear need to set the module at Foundation Level as other related modules are available at higher levels giving a clear pathway of progression to the student. This is not the case in Spain and Hungary where the level of the module is geared more towards the student’s need to seek employment directly after the course has been completed. It could be argued that allowing each country to set it’s own Performance Criteria effectively gives the centres the flexibility to deliver the module at a level which is most appropriate to their student’s needs. In addition the requirements of the qualification authority in each country need to be addressed. In an Irish context this will require further modification to the existing Horse-care module in order to comply with the requirements of the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC).

 ??The content of Unit 10 was to be decided at the discretion of the individual pilot centres and was offered as an optional unit. In Hungary “Practical Aspects of Tractor Driving” was chosen as the topic for this Unit. In Spain the topic was “Orientation to the Labour Market”, including the legal framework, labour conditions, professional relationships and resources to look for a job. Initially it was expected that “Sulky Racing” would form the basis for Unit 10 in Ireland but due to insurance difficulties this was untenable and other alternative topics have been suggested including: aspects of breeding, basic tractor driving skills, basic horse-riding, basic farriery and cultural history of Travellers/Roma community.