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Saddled with a four-legged subject

In an increasingly elastic curriculum, it is horses for courses if schools want to grab the vocational interest of pupils, David Henderson writes. But it is courses on horses that are likely to fulfil many a pupil's dream at Breadalbane Academy.

Bridles at Breadalbane will soon be a common feature of the Perthshire secondary as the school expands its vocational path for senior pupils.

The first course in equine studies to be organised by a school is being launched next session, along with separate Scottish Qualifications Authority-approved courses in horticulture and forestry.

Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy has run courses in gamekeeping for seven years but is now expanding its curriculum through a specially designed land-based studies department. For the first time, girls are expected to sign up.

John Low, the school's headteacher, said: "We have got 30 kids at the moment and hope to go up to 50 on an annual basis. The courses are for anyone that is interested and there is a pretty broad range of pupils."

The current session has seen practical courses in anything from dry stane dyking to building bridges and shearing sheep. "We bought a 12-seat Landrover and can get away up into the hills. It's real work," Mr Low said.

Support has come from the European Social Fund and Lantra, the land-based training agency. Perth College provides a lecturer for one day a week.

Scotland Plus 5

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