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£29k-a-year boarding school to send students to milk cows at local college


Students at a prestigious £29,000-per-year boarding school will soon be milking cows and shoveling manure, thanks to an unusual link-up between the independent and FE sectors.

From September, 486-year-old Sedbergh School in Cumbria – a member of the illustrious Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) group, and the school where poet William Wordsworth sent his sons – will be offering a BTEC subsidiary diploma in agriculture.

Sixth-formers at the school who opt to take the qualification will spend one day a week taking classes at Newton Rigg College, a land-based FE institution in Penrith.

The students will swap the scenic campus of the school, which enjoys close links with the University of Cambridge’s St John’s College and counts Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and former chair of the BBC board of governors Sir Christopher Bland among its alumni, for Newton Rigg, run by York-based Askham Bryan College.

The college’s campus, pictured, boasts rather different facilities, including a £2 million dairy unit plus its own hill farm and moorland, complete with 30 Aberdeen Angus cows and more than 1,000 ewes.

The diploma will earn pupils 60 Ucas credits, the equivalent to one A level. 

Andrew Fleck, headmaster of Sedbergh School, said the qualification “provides an ideal platform for pupils to progress to higher education, in particular in vocational and practical courses”.

“Pupils who combine A levels with our new BTEC in agriculture will have a wider range of skills, a broader knowledge base and a greater understanding of the agriculture industries,” he added.

The school believes the course could prove to be particular beneficial for students who intend to apply to study veterinary science at university.

College campus principal Wes Johnson said: “The course explores all aspects of modern agriculture and ways of addressing the challenges of 21st century farming.”

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