Fourteen Breeds Help Kennel Club as it Launches Pilot Scheme for Judges Competency Framework

Fourteen breeds representing every group classification and Stud Book band have joined forces to assist the Kennel Club with piloting various elements of its Judges Competency Framework (JCF), the Kennel Club has announced.

Details of the pilot were discussed with representatives from the breeds concerned at the Kennel Club’s headquarters in London on July 26th. Each breed agreed to trial a breed-specific seminar, known as a ‘breed appreciation day’, conduct the subsequent multiple-choice breed standard exam and trial the new mentoring programme. They will each provide the Kennel Club with regular feedback, share their experiences of the pilot scheme with each other and meet again in summer 2018.

Kathryn Symns, Kennel Club Canine Activities Executive, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the two Board members present, Jeff Horswell, Vice Chairman of the Judges Committee, and Gerald King, Chairman of the Training Board. She also introduced the members of Kennel Club staff in attendance – Iris Thompson-Burton, Education, Training and Property Senior Manager; Christine McHardy, Education and Training Senior Officer; and Glen Dymock from the press office.

Jeff Horswell began proceedings by giving an overview of the JCF, details of which were first announced in April. It will begin in 2019, run alongside the current system of judges’ education and approval for three years and be fully operational in 2022. He explained how a judge would progress from the point of newcomer right through to awarding CCs (level 4). The new system will take a while for breed clubs to get used to, which is why a pilot scheme and indeed a transition period are both essential, he emphasised.

A question and answer session had been planned for the end of the meeting, but a lively, engaging and informative debate took place throughout the afternoon, making this unnecessary. Topics covered included the appointment of mentors and the structure of the proposed mentoring programme, the roles of the Breed Education Coordinators (BECs) and observers, and the multiple-choice breed standard exam which breed clubs will need to conduct under the new system.

Iris Thompson-Burton gave an overview of the role of the BEC, who will be working alongside the already established breed club judges committees. This person will be required to match candidates with mentors and observers, so good organisational and interpersonal skills would be essential, she said. Other responsibilities would include assisting breed clubs with arranging breed appreciation days and liaising with Kennel Club staff.

Christine McHardy provided an outline of the breed appreciation day, which breed clubs will be required to hold at least every two years. The Kennel Club is in the process of producing a new code of best practice to assist breed clubs with putting on breed appreciation days, she said, and would also help with publicity by listing events in the Kennel Club Journal as well as on the Kennel Club Academy. Guidance on drawing up the multiple-choice exam would also be included – many clubs already conduct these exams so will need to check they are meeting the new requirements.

An overview of the proposed mentoring system was given by Jeff Horswell. Each judge will be mentored on three occasions at level 3 in future, and before they are approved to award CCs. These sessions will ideally include attendance at a breed mentoring day, watching breed judging at the ringside (breed club shows or supported entry classes) with a mentor and, lastly, acting as a student judge in a ring in which the officiating judge will act as mentor. It was emphasised that a range of mentors should be available in each breed so that mentees would be able to hear a number of different expert opinions and see the different ‘types’ which may exist in a breed. A judge of special awards classes at a breed club show could also receive mentoring on the day of their judging appointment, it was pointed out.

Next, representatives from the 14 pilot breeds took part in a mentoring workshop in which they were asked to share their experiences of the types of mentoring they undertake, including what they thought worked or otherwise, as well as their thoughts on the sort of feedback which should be given to mentees.

Kathryn Symns gave an overview of how observed judging will operate, including what the responsibilities of the observer will be and how they will work in conjunction with the BEC and mentors. It was vitally important that observers were able to offer direct feedback to the judge, both positive and negative, in a tactful and ultimately constructive way, she emphasised.

Jeff Horswell closed the meeting by thanking everyone for attending and outlining the next steps expected of the breeds which include the holding of a breed appreciation day in autumn 2017 – details of these will be publicised by the Kennel Club in due course.

The breeds involved in the pilot scheme are as follows:

Afghan Hound

Border Collie


Cardigan Welsh Corgi

English Setter


Golden Retriever


Lagotto Romagnolo

Pembroke Welsh Corgi



Siberian Husky

Welsh Terrier

Speaking after the meeting, Jeff Horswell said: “The attitude of everyone was very encouraging. The meeting was very constructive and there was a real sense that the Kennel Club is taking judges’ education in a new direction – one with competence and a logical sequence of learning at its heart.

“For a long time, people have said the judging education and approval system in the UK is not fit for purpose and now with the JCF we are seeing an opportunity to improve things. The breeds involved in this pilot are treading fresh territory along with the Kennel Club and we are most grateful for their assistance. This will be a proper pilot scheme and the feedback received from these breeds will be vital in our fine-tuning of the JCF before it is finally rolled out in 2019.”