From education to employment

Should we be regulating trainers and assessors?

This week’s post has brought the annual reminders to pay membership fees from our respective professional bodies in accountancy and HR.

More concerning is the annual requirement to ensure that our CPD is up to date, or risking expulsion from said bodies. Everybody has busy lives today and finding time to maintain professional updates and continuous development, even in an age of technology, can be very time consuming. It would be easy to stop paying the subscription and not worry but our sense of pride, credibility and commitment to keep up to date with our professional bodies is too important.

This got us thinking which other organisations require such CPD as a requirement to continue to be classed as a professional and there are many, most of which do not come with the higher salaries often associated with the accounting profession in particular.

The learning and skills sector includes a number of professions. If we focus in on the roles of a trainer, tutor or assessor, which are key roles in supporting the career development of thousands of young people in the independent and college sector, we ask, where is their mandatory requirement to undertake CPD and become registered.

The institute for learning took responsibility for this a few years ago and some people joined and paid, but many did not participate and there was no consequence. The world has moved on and more and more young people put their futures in the hands of our staff and perhaps it is time again to ensure that their experience is one that is of the highest quality and reflects current trends in learning.

There will be many who reject the concept of paying a membership fee to a professional body to whom they don’t believe they need such an organisation. A quick straw poll within our own organisation which employs over 300 staff suggests a mixed response and for many organisations the silence will be deafening. However, as most external research studies have proven, the quality of any qualification or Apprenticeship is only as good as the learning that takes place, which directly relates to the teaching and support given by those undertaking the training and assessment.

We are not advocating everyone should be fully qualified “teachers” but we do believe the current quality of teaching and assessment goes un-regulated, other than via external assessment with OFSTED. Indeed, the plans for changes to the Ofsted Framework later this year may recommend that less time is spent observing teaching and learning and more time spent looking at the support for learning with much wider value added issues under consideration.

But surely we need a sector where everyone aims to be up to date with the latest ways of working and pays for a membership that ensures only those who operate in this professional way are employed to work with our young people.

As an employer of over 300 staff we plan to have a professional dialogue with our trainers and assessors (many of whom achieved “Outstanding” grades in our recent Ofsted inspection) about establishing our own compulsory scheme of accreditation and a requirement to undertake CPD at their own expense and in their own time but with support and encouragement from the company.

There will be cries of unfairness we hear some people shout, but nobody helps us to fulfil our own CPD requirements and pay our membership fees. One of our colleagues has taken a break from his profession as a chiropractor to do other projects, but still has to pay thousands of pounds a year, just to keep his qualification and license to practice.

So should we not as a sector group of employers put pressure on the regulators to launch such a scheme of professional accreditation and mandatory CPD. It certainly would help when recruiting trainers and assessors to know they are required to keep up to date in their sector developments and this scheme should also provide an opportunity for employers to feedback through effective channels about those not complying. The latter would hopefully be the exception rather than the rule!

We all want the young people whom we provide a service for, to get the best possible experience so there is a real opportunity for a simple regulated approach to take this forward. The professionalism of trainers and assessors would be enhanced and the young people we serve and their parents and carers would know that they were in the best possible hands.

We welcome the opportunity to stimulate debate and warmly accept challenges to our observations indeed– there may even be a business opportunity here for someone.

Meanwhile we had better pay our membership fees or risk the regulators chasing us!

Peter Marples and Di McEvoy-Robinson are co-owners of Aspire Achieve Advance, a grade 1 OFSTED provider

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