Agri-food fever hits Northern Ireland’s schools

As the Balmoral Show gets under way, over 150 young people here are preparing to sit exams leading to the first ever award of the Council for the Curriculum of Examinations and Assessment’s (CCEA) new GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use.

The agri-food industry contributes hugely to the local economy. Almost 75% of land here is used for agricultural purposes and the agri-sector employs 50,000 people.

CCEA’s new GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use aims to prepare Northern Ireland’s young people for such opportunities by developing their knowledge in a wide range of relevant areas including: farming practices; modern agriculture; the natural environment; consumer awareness of the food we eat and the development of diverse, vibrant and viable agri-food businesses.

Justin Edwards, CCEA’s Chief Executive said:

"The numbers flocking to Balmoral Show highlight the important role the agri-food sector plays in the Northern Ireland economy. Recognising the growing demand for knowledge and skills in this area, we’ve worked with key industry and educational stakeholders to introduce CCEA’s GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use, a qualification that will prepare our young people for the many careers in the industry."

Crossgar’s St Colmcille’s High School has 17 pupils preparing for the summer exams.  Teacher Richard McCullough commented:

"Having studied CCEA’s GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use, the majority of our pupils are now wishing to pursue further study within the agri-food sector, in order to avail of the many local career opportunities in this area. The qualification is so much more than the traditional views of ‘farming’, it’s a STEM subject and our pupils get to delve into the science and technology behind the workings of a farm. The qualification works extremely well for rural schools. Pupils, teachers and local stakeholders are able to create relationships due to the shared understanding of how wonderful the Agriculture Industry really is."

CCEA’s GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use is designed to appeal, not only to young people from the increasingly diverse agricultural sector, but also those who are interested in working within the wider land-based and environmental industries.

To find out more about more about this new subject and to view a range of useful resources, visit

CCEA’s GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use

17 schools across NI are currently taking this new qualification, which is due for first award in summer 2015.

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