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Judges competency framework

Issue: 04/08/2017

IN 1998 the Kennel Club set up a Judges Working Party (JWP) to recommend ways in which judges in the UK should be trained and this resulted in the publication in 2000 of the Judges Development Programme (JDP) which set out a number of specific requirements for those who wished to be passed to award Challenge Certificates and formalised the way in which judges should acquire, extend and confirm their knowledge of each specific breed.  In the intervening years there have been a number of 'tweaks' to the programme but it has been clear for some time that as Chairman Simon Luxmoore stated at the Welsh Kennel Club dinner soon after he was elected, the KC view was that the system was not 'fit for purpose' and required a fundamental rethink.
A working party was set up under General Committee/Board Member Jeff Horswell and earlier this year in April the KC Judges Competency Framework (JCF) was published - a long and complex document which was subtitled, 'changes in the way judges are educated, approved and listed'.  The key element according to the KC is that learning to judge and understanding breeds should be based on proven competency and designed to 'provide a logical sequence of learning, practising, peer observation and examination which will cater for judges at every level, outlining a career path providing clear criteria for every stage'.  
At something like 30 dense pages the JCF is a thorough but complex document: a creditable effort to bring some long-term sensible and thoughtful thinking into the process of educating judges.  It was rightly made clear that pilot schemes covering several breeds in several Stud Book Bands would be carried out to enable refinements to the proposals before the Framework comes fully into force but these are unlikely to change the direction of travel for it is quite clear that the proposals will fundamentally change the way in which judges are trained and selected whatever hiccups are identified. 
It would not be unfair to say that many individuals, faced with both a wide ranging set of new criteria and the demand that all those who judge must be members of the Kennel Club Academy, have been very concerned.  Equally, breed clubs, whose responsibilities will be greatly extended by the new requirements, have questioned many of the demands likely to be made upon them and are worried about the amount of work which will be required of the Breed Education Coordinators. Many general canine societies too are worried that they may find it difficult to attract good judges to officiate at their shows, now that set amounts of practical hands on experience at open shows will no longer be required of judges. 
Understandably, the Kennel Club has been inundated with questions and last week a formal response was published which it is hoped will provide most of the answers.  The original framework document was published in full in OUR DOGS in April or it can be found on the Kennel Club website by searching for Judges Competency Framework.  The full text of the latest KC Frequently Asked Questions are published on page 12.
(For OUR DOGS' comments see our Opinion Column on page eight of this week's issue.)
As we go to press, we have recieved a press release titled 'Fourteen Breeds Help Kennel Club As It Launches Pilot Scheme For Judges Competency Framework'  

Judges Competency Framework 
- Questions and Answers

A number of clubs and individuals have written in to seek clarification on various issues concerning the press announcement made about the Judges Competency Framework (JCF) in April 2017. The JCF working party has prepared the following Q&A to assist accordingly.

General questions

Q. What was the inspiration behind the idea to develop the JCF?
A.  To develop a logical sequence of training and developing judges and to develop a scheme that ensured new CC judges were competent in the breeds they wanted to judge.

Kennel Club Academy

Q. How will those without access to a computer be accommodated? Will there be support for those who are not computer literate?
A. There are many opportunities to gain access to a computer such as through friends or family and through your local library. There will be a help desk and opportunities at events at the Kennel Club Building at Stoneleigh and at other events. There have also been opportunities at Crufts each year since its launch that judges have been able to sign up to accounts. 
Q. There are breeds that have not yet been given CC status. Please could you let us know whether there will be a facility to include this information on the Kennel Club Academy?
A.  There is no reason why a breed without CCs could not work towards having a breed-specific film on the Academy.  Just because a breed does not have CCs does not mean the people who judge it should not be competent.  Judges will be able to include details of their experience on the Academy across all breeds whether the breed has been allocated championship status or not.  It is important for open show societies and for those selecting judges for non CC classes at championship shows to know who is eligible at levels 1 and 2 to judge these breeds.

Breed Education Coordinator

Q. What role do you envisage the Breed Education Coordinator (BEC) playing in the JCF?
A. It is hoped that there will be a BEC for each individual breed. The BEC will pair aspiring judges with mentors and provide additional support to them. 
Q. What training and support will the Kennel Club and breed clubs provide?
A. The Kennel Club will provide each BEC with all of the information required to carry out their role and offer practical support and assistance when required. 

Mentors

Q. How will mentors be chosen? Will there be a description of their duties available?
A. Breed clubs will compile a list of suitable people for their breed. The BEC will match up judges to mentors. 
Q. What format will the mentoring session take?
A. It is envisaged that the majority of the mentoring will take place at shows. 
Q. Will there be an evaluation form for the mentor?
A. There will be a feedback form for evaluation.
Q. Does the Kennel Club envisage that there will be mentors for each breed?
A. Yes, the mentors will be compiled from breed clubs. 
Q. To whom will it fall to provide the mentor's expenses?
A. Any expenses paid to mentors will be responsibility of the breed club. 

Breed clubs

Q. Will breed clubs still have a role in educating their judges?
A. The breed clubs will continue to have a duty to educate their future judges. They are essential to the process and their contribution will be valued. They will still be able to run seminars. 
Q. When judges are transitioning from level 3 to level 4, the documentation states that assessors will be appointed by the Kennel Club, but will breed clubs be able to put forward any names?
A. Breed clubs will be asked to put forward names of suitable people. 

Assessments

Q. Is it necessary to have the support of three of the four assessors to progress to the next level?
A. Yes.

Student judges

Q. What was the reasoning behind student judges? Is this successfully completed in any other countries?
A. The student judge system at dog shows works very well in other countries. 
Q. Will allowances for time be made for student judges?
A. It is not necessary for every student judge to go over every dog. It depends upon the size of the entry. 
Q. Will exhibitors have the opportunity to refuse a student judge to go over their dog?
A. The Kennel Club very much hopes that exhibitors will want to play their part in the education of judges.  However, they are not obliged to do this and can refuse if they so wish.

Levels

Q. How do judges establish which level they transition to?
A. They need to refer to the transition table to see where their education thus far fits them in. It can be accessed on the Kennel Club website at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/1128983/jcf_transition_table_from_judges_lists_to_jcf_levels.pdf
Q. There does not appear to be a requirement to have a significant geographical spread?
A. There is no longer a requirement for a geographical spread, as the JCF concentrates on a candidate's judging ability rather than where they have judged.
Q. Will there be an option to request to attend a Gundog Open Working Test?
A. There is no change planned from the existing requirement. 
Q. Will producing a critique still form a part of the JCF? Will there be a seminar on this?
A. There will be a critique writing seminar online. 
Q. At present, if a judge gives CCs in three or more breeds, they no longer have to complete the breed specific seminar exam. If, during the transition period, they complete the assessment, will that qualify them for level 2?
A. The requirement is to have passed a multiple choice exam. Before 2022 any breed assessment pass can be used for this. 

Breed specialists

Q. The JCF's focus is properly educating judges; however, there is no mention of numbers required for each breed. Could you please let us know whether the Kennel Club is concerned that it may be losing valuable breed knowledge that breed specialists have?
A. The JCF is designed with the breed specialist in mind. 
Q. The JCF means that exhibitors will have judges who have a great understanding of their breed and what is expected of them as a judge. Will they still be expected to undertake the Requirements of a Dog Show Judge (RDSJ) seminar?
A. Yes, every judge must take the RDSJ exam every five years. 
Q. Will the new route to becoming a judge mean that you are a specialist in every breed?
A. No, it does not. 

Judges lists

Q. Are breed clubs permitted to maintain their judges lists?
A. If a club wishes to, it can. However, judges will only be able to judge in line with their level achieved in the JCF. Clubs can list only those on the Kennel Club Academy and on the Find a Judge facility on the Kennel Club website.
Q. Will the breed clubs be permitted to keep their own judges list based on the understanding that it will be supervised by the Kennel Club?
A. There will be one judges list per breed available online. It will be the most efficient way to maintain the list and allows all show societies to see who is able to judge a breed and at what level. 
Q. We wish to nominate a judge for our 2022 show. How are we able to check a judge's eligibility before inviting him for the appointment?
A. We recommend strongly that societies do not select judges too far in advance. If a show wants to select a judge for a show beyond 2019, prior to that judge having registered with the Academy and been transitioned over, the inviting society should ask the judge to confirm that they will be an Academy member prior to the show society issuing its final part of the judges contract. During the three-year transition period (2019-2022) a judge can alternatively be appointed from the relevant breed club list. No appointments can be carried out on or after 1st January 2022 where a judge is not listed on the Find a Judge facility, at the appropriate level, at the time of the show.

Fees

Q. How will the Kennel Club use the 26 subscription fee to further invest in judge education?
A. In developing new seminars and information for the judge to rely upon and in running the system, including the cost of maintaining and updating the IT and staff who will help to run the Academy. 
Q. If the subscription is not renewed, does the judge remain eligible for any appointments they have approved?
A. No, they must remain an active member of the Academy. 
Miscellaneous
Q. Will the Find a Judge online facility give details of previous and future appointments?
A. Yes, it will. 
Q. Is it the hope that this will encourage exhibitors to enter open shows?
A. Yes, it is the hope that having judges who have a well-rounded knowledge of their breed will encourage more people to show at open shows.
More details next week.


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