The removal of gamekeeping and wildlife management courses from the education syllabus by 2023 has been described by the rural sector as “deeply concerning” in an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi.

The letter states the removal of the Land & Wildlife course within the new T Level system will result in the loss of a popular and important specialist training route for future gamekeepers, rangers, foresters, land managers and conservationists.

There are currently more than 1,000 students enrolled on the Land & Wildlife courses at 10 specialist land-based centres across England.

Signatories asking the Education Department to overturn the decision include the leading colleges in the sector, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Natural Resources Wales and Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor).

Curtis Mossop, BASC’s head of pathways, said: “The replacement course offered within the new education structure lacks practical training in wildlife management and controlling invasive species. It is woefully inadequate for the thousands of jobs that require a more hands-on approach to conservation and management.

“Given the Government’s commitment to increasing tree planting, the removal of a course that trains deer and pest management is counterproductive. The Department need to urgently rectify the issue if they are going to succeed in their nature recovery programme.”

Laura Black, Assistant Principal for Landbased, Sparsholt College said, “As a leading land-based college Group, Sparsholt supports the view of the sector that there is an urgent need to review the T Level occupational specialisms to support gamekeeping and wildlife management.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with industry, to ensure that there continues to be suitable qualifications available to meet the needs of the land-based sector in the future”

Notes to Editors:

The letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, can be read in full here. The full list of signatures include: Sparsholt College, Duchy College, Hartpury College, Myerscough College, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Natural Resources Wales, Confederation of Forest Industries.