Shepherding Set to Enter Field of Higher Education; College Hopes Students Will Flock to Sheepdog Course

Article excerpt


IT is an ancient skill that has been passed down through the ages from father to son in the glens of Scotland.

But now the art of shepherding is moving into the realms of higher education.

Sheepdog handling is being taught on a yearlong course at Oatridge Agricultural College, West Lothian.

Six students have been selected and if they pass they will be awarded a Scottish Vocational Qualification 'degree'.

The course has been devised by shepherd Sion Barrington and Edinburgh vet Gill Simpson. Mr Barrington, who has been looking after sheep since 1966, was approached two years ago by the Scottish Qualifications Authority amid fears that shepherding with dogs could die out unless the traditional skills were passed on in a formal setting.

Mr Barrington, 55, who farms near Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire, said yesterday: 'Shepherding is probably one of the oldest professions and it is about time it was given professional recognition.

'The training base for sheepdog handlers is shrinking as the number of working shepherds drastically declines. …