The BDS Education has been undergoing several areas of improvement with one aspect being the return of the popular competence scheme that was in place in 2000. The Training committee has made a few changes to ensure that the scheme is up to date and current but remain with the same ethos.
There are now just three levels of competence which are progressive so must be taken in strict order, starting with the Elementary (old elementary) and ending with the Advanced level. The Elementary Certificate consists of three units, 1 and 2 are taken at the same time but unit 3 may be taken on the same day or at a different time. This gives the candidate more opportunity to concentrate on a smaller package. Having achieved the Elementary Certificate a candidate wishing to progress must then move on to take the Road Driving Assessment. This is one complete unit and is assessed on the public highway. Achievement of this unit satisfies a large part of the Code of Practice for Horse Drawn Vehicles issued by the Department of Transport. This test is pre-requisite to entering for the second level of achievement known as the Intermediate Certificate. This consists of compulsory units and optional units comprised of a list of different areas of driving activities. To achieve this certificate a candidate must be successful in all compulsory units together with one optional unit of their choice. There is also a unit for Pairs of Horses at this level which is optional but becomes compulsory for those wishing to progress to the Advanced Certificate. The method of achieving the optional unit will be a new innovation for many members in as much as the candidate provides evidence of experience and ability in a variety of ways by producing witness statements of their attendance and achievements at a variety of events, competitions, shows or activities relevant to their chosen option. For example, if the chosen option is Private Driving, evidence would be provided by detailing shows attended and successes gained, the number of occasions when the candidate had been a steward, groom or even show organiser. The candidate could also provide video evidence or put together a portfolio of their carriage driving life and achievements. When all the evidence is amassed it will be scrutinised by the internal verifiers who are members of the Training Committee with the relevant qualifications and the evidence will be studied and matched against the requirements of the syllabus and the achievements credited. This is known as Accreditation of Prior Achievement. Subject to everything being satisfactory, the candidate will gain the Intermediate Certificate.
At this point they may well have had enough and decide to call it a day, but should they aspire to achieving the Advanced Certificate they must then study for and achieve the Pairs Unit as this is pre-requisite to the Advanced Level. Advance level does take knowledge and skill to a whole new level and much more aimed at the advanced driver with units in multiples including teams and tandems.