Active IQthe UK’s leading Ofqual-recognised Awarding Organisation – is supporting Darlington College to deliver an ambitious range of professional, industry-ready qualifications to young learners aged 16+. The company is also helping the College spearhead an innovative programme for upskilling local primary school teachers to deliver programmes to offset the rising tide of physical inactivity among young children.

Darlington College is leading the way in further education by providing Active IQ qualifications that will enable young learners to be industry-ready and qualified to work in local gyms and clubs from as early as one term into their college studies. Not only does this help them earn money, it also provides valuable, relevant work experience to support their studies and provides a rich source of gym and group exercise instructor and personal trainer support to local community facilities.

Darlington College is also paving the way for its students to undertake new Level 3 and Level 4 training and career pathways to ensure they start work with superior skills, in line with the industry demand for a higher level of professionalism from entry level. As part of this initiative, Darlington College is the first centre to register its learners on the new Active IQ Level 4 Strength and Conditioning course and also offers the new Active IQ Level 3 Awards in Sports Nutrition, Outdoor Fitness and Sports and Exercise Conditioning qualifications along with the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral and the Level 4 Certificate in Physical Activity and Weight Management for Obese and Diabetic Clients.

“We pride ourselves on offering relevant and valuable vocational qualifications to ensure students have their best chance of walking into work after leaving us,” says Alan Jones, Curriculum Manager for Culture, Media & Sport at Darlington College. “With Active IQ we have found a highly respected partner whose range of Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications will equip young adult learners with the broad scope of skills that employers are seeking.  All students start with the industry entry Level 2 before following the training pathways we have developed with Active IQ to add specialist skills and Level 3 / Level 4 qualifications within their two years with us. Such qualifications outside of a college environment would be costly so by offering them within our Government-funded curriculum, our students have a real opportunity here.”

Darlington College expects that most students will gain their Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification in their first term. They are then encouraged to work with local employers to gain valuable work experience and a modest income while working towards their Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications. The college seeks work placements at local gyms and works closely with a nearby hospice.

Active IQ also helped the Darlington College tutors upskill to deliver the new qualifications, with Strength & Conditioning, in particular, requiring further knowledge and practical skills. 

In addition to training students, Darlington College is embarking on an exciting project with local schools to develop the skills of PE staff and teaching assistants, using the School Sport Premium Fund, to qualify them to deliver physical activity sessions.  The new Level 4 Supporting PE Teachers qualification, developed by Active IQ, is partly delivered on-site in schools, making it relatable to their facilities and pupil cohort. It takes between 12 and 18 months to complete, although from early on in the course, new skills and ideas will be mastered and able to be used.

“Active IQ has proved to be an excellent partner with a wealth of advice and options for us,” says Alan. “They have an impressive rate of development, with plenty of new qualifications to keep our offering fresh and relevant. They are incredibly flexible and offer as much support as we could ever need. Added to this, their reputation as an Awarding Organisation is second to none so we know our students will be taking away qualifications that are highly regarded in the industry by employers.”

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