Plea for GCSE in agriculture issued by MP

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer,  in his constituency in the village of Knapton.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, in his constituency in the village of Knapton.
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A GCSE in Agriculture should be offered to teenagers around the country to help create a “better skilled and more productive workforce”, according to a North Yorkshire MP.

Conservative MP and ex-farmer Julian Sturdy, who represents York Outer, will today lead a Westminster Hall debate on introducing the qualification, which he says would allow young people working in agriculture to flourish “at the earliest possible opportunity”.

In his speech, Mr Sturdy is expected to say that pupils have been able to study for an Agriculture and Land Use GCSE in Northern Ireland since 2013, but not anywhere else in the UK.

Mr Sturdy, who was elected in 2010, ran a family farming business between York and Harrogate before becoming an MP and said the experience “has naturally made me a passionate advocate of UK farming”.

He said offering a GCSE would help equip pupils for a “skilled and fulfilling future career” and aid the farming sector by providing a greater pool of young, educated potential workers.

Mr Sturdy said he had been encouraged to call for change more publicly by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, who called for the introduction of an Agriculture GCSE in September. He said: “Extending the offering of an Agriculture GCSE option would represent a sensible and logical development of the Government’s very welcome plans to expand the provision of vocational and technical education in order to create a better skilled and more productive workforce, enjoying higher wages and living standards.”