The Southern Golden Retriever Society (SGRS) hosted a session on the Judges Competency Framework (JCF) at Bletchingley.
To my knowledge, this is the first presentation to focus exclusively on thr JCF in the South-East. Ann Stephenson is secretary to breed clubs in two of the pilot breeds (Goldens and Lagotto Romagnolo), and so when she had the chance to invite Gerald King to come and speak on the subject she snapped it up. A good number of people from various breeds braved the M25 on a Friday evening to travel to Bletchingley and have their questions answered.
As chairman of the Training Board at the Kennel Club, this is a subject dear to Gerald's heart, and his presentation lasted for two hours, interspersed with plenty of questions.
Those present were very appreciative of the chance to hear about the latest incarnation of the evolving scheme. It was made clear that the changes were made for the benefit of exhibitors, judges and societies. Anyone wanting to judge at any type of event from limited shows upwards will need to become a member of the kennel Club Academy (KCA). There will be demands made on breed clubs to enable the changes, and clubs which decline to co-operate will risk losing their CCs.
Gerald began with slides demonstrating the different levels of judging and what will be required to progress after the transition period. The basic information is available on the KC website. One of the basic requirements for new judges will be to complete the stewarding days, which will now entail doing six (previously four) full days. This is also the point at which the mandatory seminars must be taken. Secretaries of societies appointing judges for shows from January 2019 will be expected to inform the judges that they must have completed all the requirements before undertaking the appointment. A template letter for secretaries will be coming soon.
In order to progress to Level 2 judges will have to attend a Breed Appreciation Day and pass a multiple choice assessment based on the breed standard. At this point a critique writing seminar, a one-off event, must be taken. Existing CC awarding judges will also need to do this if progressing in a new breed. And the Requirements of a Dog Show Judge (RDSJ) seminar must have been passed or updated in the last 5 years. Existing CC judges will be able to do this online.
At the point of moving from L2 to L3 (Judge Awaiting Final Assessment), as well as having a current RDSJ pass, and three Stud Book entries as at present, the judge will need to be observed judging at a breed club open show, supported entry show or at a championship show without CCs. They will also have to complete three 1:1 mentoring sessions on the breed. For gundog people this is the point by which they must have attended a field trial or open working test in the relevant sub-group. And finally, in order to progress to L3 judges will have to pass an Eye for a Dog seminar. L3 contains considerable assessment. When the judge reaches L3 the KC will monitor people at this level and organise assessment for them. Judges currently on A3 lists will transfer to L3 but will have to take the critique writing seminar.
The Eye for a Dog seminar is another one-off, not breed-specific. Multiple breeds will be present and the judge will be expected to note basic faults. Essentially it will be a live Conformation and Movement assessment. It is based on the assessment used in Finland, where people have failed the assessment for not being properly dressed for judging.
Mentoring received quite a bit of attention. Mentors may be former judges, consistently successful breeder/exhibitors or other people with a wealth of knowledge about the breed. As such they may not have taken the mandatory seminars and care will need to be taken in the selection of mentors regarding the accuracy of the information they might give. Mentors will not need to be members of the KCA, and neither will people who only referee or judge BIS at breed club shows.
There will be four main formats for mentoring: (1) at breed mentoring days (2) by watching breed judging with a mentor (3) judging Special Award classes at a breed club show and receiving feedback (4) being a student judge in the ring usually at a breed club show, for one class only, subject to the agreement of judge and exhibitors. It has also been suggested that mentors might allow people to come to see their dogs and discuss them. A course on mentoring is in the pipeline.
Observation of judging will be more structured than at present. It will normally take place at a breed club open show, a supported entry show or at a championship show without CCs.
In order to make the move to L4, as well as the RDSJ requirement, the judge will need to overcome a final hurdle in order to award CCs. This is to pass a Breed Competency Assessment. The panel will consist of two group judges and two breed specialist judges, to be appointed and paid by the KC. Breed clubs will be asked to provide dogs for examination. It was stressed that people will need to be members of the KCA before being passed to award CCs (although it is unlikely that they would have got to this point without joining).
Having reached L4 the judge will be able to judge varieties, groups and BIS up to open show level. In all subsequent breeds they will follow the process as a L2 judge. To then progress to L5 it will be necessary to judge 30% of breeds in the relevant group. Group judges will have to do three groups to be passed to judge BIS at championship level. In all these cases the up to date RDSJ certificate is still needed.
There was considerable debate thoughout the evening, much of it light-hearted. Several issues which have frequently come up on social media were discussed, including the hot potato of the person who only judges one breed at infrequent intervals and feels it is unfair that they should have to pay their £26 per year. People were pleased to hear that there is some pressure within the KC to acknowledge their situation, possibly by charging them a one-off registration fee. Undoubtedly there will be some who feel that this is also unfair, but it would definitely be a positive change.