A distance-learning course offered by Warwickshire College has been awarded a Beacon Award in recognition of its innovative and effective use of information learning technology (ILT) to enhance learning.

The “Health and Safety with Horses” course currently forms part of the training undertaken by all first year students at the college and is offered through the Equi Study distance learning program.

College representatives travelled to Westminster earlier this week for the final presentation of the Beacon Award, which is sponsored by the British Educational Communication and Technology Agency (BECTA), by the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Alan Johnson.

The college was chosen for the prestigious award, which includes a £4,200 grant, in November last year and Princess Anne recently visited the college to present the grant, which will help fund the continued development of the programme.

Believed to be the first equine course in the UK to win a Beacon award, the “Health and Safety with Horses” course was designed by Karen Tolley to provide employers within the equine industry with a “consistent and coherent way to train employees.”

“The Health and Safety with Horses course allows people to enter the horse industry with an understanding of how to safely handle and work with horses,” explains Tolley. “This course is the only one of it’s kind in the industry, and allows students from around the world to learn about horse safety and hopefully will improve international horse care standards.”

Distance learning students undertaking the course receive a packet including an interactive training CD-rom and a booklet, and their supervisor (such as an instructor or yard manager) will also receive a packet to help them support the student through the learning process.

Students are given weekly assignments and assessment tests along with a final computer-based assessment at the end of the course. The successful students receive a nationally recognised qualification, and are issued a laminated ID card that states their completion of the course and can be shown to prospect employers.

The Beacon award is extremely sought after and recognises programmes that use innovative and effective information learning technology (ILT) to supplement teaching and enhance learning. The Association of Colleges issue the Beacon awards, while the grant money comes from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency.