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January 2016

What makes a training centre excellent?

Kitchen Tonic was featured as CIEH excellent centre in this recent interview. 

What makes a training centre excellent?

July 6, 2015
Helen Hartropp, Quality Assurance Consultant, CIEH with Anna Howells, Development Manager and Commissioning Editor, CIEH

A CIEH centre is a registered training provider responsible for administering the delivery of training programmes in support of CIEH vocational qualifications. Over the years, working formerly as the CIEH Quality Assurance Manager and latterly as a CIEH auditor, I have encountered many excellent CIEH centres. These centres vary in size and remit. Some are small with just one trainer. Others are training departments, colleges or large-scale nationwide enterprises employing any number of trainers. Some provide in-house training for a single employer. Others provide training for a variety of clients in the public and private sector, as open or closed courses, for individuals and groups. What excellent centres all have in common is the way they manage, develop and promote their businesses and also the extent to which they comply with CIEH quality standards and procedures.

The purpose of this article is to share examples of good practice to help you to improve the quality of training delivery and, thereby, maintain and develop your businesses.

Communication is key

Excellent centres have a well-developed understanding of their clients’ and learners’ needs. Time spent conducting a ‘training-needs analysis’ with clients and initial assessment with learners will help to ensure that training delivery is effective in achieving agreed aims. Making contact with clients at regular intervals will help you to maintain your profile as an expert training provider and secure future business.

Keeping abreast of industry news and developments will help you to anticipate and respond to your clients’ training needs. For example, you could use the free TiFSiP Allergen Information interactive pdf to help your clients understand the new requirements under the Food Information Regulations 2014 and, should training needs be identified, offer to run a CIEH Level 2 Award in Food Allergen Awareness course for staff to develop their knowledge and understanding of the principles of practical allergen management.

Business development

Excellent centres often have reputations that precede them ¬– attracting new business through recommendations. Few, however, are passive in this process. Networking is key to identifying new commercial opportunities. Excellent centres are usually embedded in the local business community actively engaging with colleagues in training and the industries they serve.

Training solutions

Excellent centres ensure that they provide training solutions that best meet the needs of their clients and learners. Training costs employers – not just in the fees for courses but also to cover staff absence. In an increasing competitive market, centres have to come up with creative and flexible training solutions. This may involve e-learning or developing blended learning options to run alongside conventional face-to-face training.

Excellent centres have trainers who provide courses that engage and motivate learners. In addition to developing session plans that cover all the learning outcomes and criteria in the units of assessment, trainers will:

  • elicit learners’ prior knowledge based on experience
  • adapt content to ensure it is relevant
  • encourage active participation in learning
  • develop strategies and resources to meet a wide range of learning needs
  • relate theory to practice at every available opportunity

Continuing professional development

Excellent centres have professional trainers who commit to maintaining and developing their professional knowledge. Professional standards, such as those published by the Education and Training Foundation in 2014 for teachers and trainers in England, set out clearly the expectations centres, clients and learners should have with regard to effective practice and also provide a framework for assessment and self-assessment to identify areas for development.

Trainers may use a range of continuing professional development strategies – such as formal study, attendance at courses or workshops, using free resources on websites such as those of the Food Standards AgencyHealth and Safety Executive or Public Health England, joining membership organisations such as TIFSIP or online professional groups such as those on LinkedIn.

When delivering vocational qualifications, vocational experience is essential – if only to remind the trainer on the ‘high hard ground of theory’ of the challenges faced by those in the ‘swampy lowlands of practice’ (Schön, 1983). It is for this reason that CIEH encourages registered trainers to visit workplaces to develop a better understanding of learners’ needs.

Course administration

Excellent centres manage the delivery of training courses and assessments and recognise the value of efficient and effective administration as part of good customer service. The CIEH’s requirements for training delivery and assessment are clearly laid out in the Procedure Manual and form the basis for the CIEH audit. To support administrative functions, CIEH provides templates of key documents for centres to adapt to meet specific needs.

Excellent centres administer assessments correctly. Having undertaken training and completed the assessment, learners and clients will be keen to find out who has passed. The single most common reason for delays in the processing of results is the failure on the part of centres and/or trainers to complete the paperwork correctly. Double checking paperwork to ensure that it is complete and correct before submitting results to the CIEH for processing will ensure that CIEH is able to fulfil its customer service pledges for the turnaround of certificates – keeping you, your client and your learners happy.

Conclusion

An excellent centre is a successful centre. By learning from experience and committing to the process of continual improvement you can develop your business and ensure its financial success. To find out more about what an excellent centre looks like look at the case studies of Kitchen Tonic and Kings Safety Training.

Authors’ Biography

Helen Hartropp has worked for the CIEH in various capacities for 14 years, as training centre, an auditor, examiner and Quality Assurance Manager. She has recently retired from her role as Quality Assurance Consultant. She is the author of the training materials developed to support the CIEH Level 2 Award in Hygiene in Health and Social Care. Before joining the CIEH, she managed a business, generating income for the NHS, which provided food and environmental microbiology services for food and catering establishments and other hospitals.

Anna Howells is the Development Manager and Commissioning Editor working for the CIEH awarding organisation. She leads the Product Development team, producing materials to support the delivery of CIEH vocational qualifications.

References

 

Schön D A (1983) The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action, New York: Basic Books