How to become an Accredited Training Provider
Who can become an approved training provider?
A training centre is a business which has been approved by an awarding organisation (AO) to offer their qualifications. Any business, charity, organisation can become a training centre, providing they meet the requirements to operate as a centre; and to deliver, assess and quality assure particular qualifications. Examples of training centres include: colleges, private training organisations, commercial businesses, charities, adult education centres, prisons and the forces.
Are you thinking of getting accredited to become a training centre
If you wish to become a centre, you will need to have suitable systems, along with policies and procedures; as well as appropriate staff and relevant resources. You don't have to employ all your staff, you can use freelancers or those who are self-employed. However, you will need to keep full records and make it clear if staff are responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance, and if they can claim any legitimate expenses from you. I can provide these policies and procedures for you.
Which awarding organisations should you choose?
An awarding organisation (AO) is a business which is regulated by a public body, for example by: Ofqual, SQA, Qualifications Wales and CCEA. The AO enables approved centres to offer qualifications to learners. Successful learners will receive a certificate with the AOs name on, as well as the name of the centre.
An AO will design and develop qualifications which meet the requirements of employers and standard setting bodies (SSB). Several AOs can offer the same qualifications. This gives choice and enables competition. There will probably be an SSB for the qualifications you wish to offer. It might be worth finding out who they are, and how they work with AOs to develop qualifications.
AOs offer regulated qualifications (those which are on a regulated framework e.g. the RQF) as well as creating bespoke qualifications to meet a particular need, for example, in a particular employment area. AOs usually award vocational qualifications, whereas awarding 'bodies' award academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A levels.
Ask yourself if you have the time and the money to invest in the premises, staff and resources required to be a high quality centre. You should want to offer excellent customer service to your learners, train and support your staff, be accessible and responsible to all, and be passionate about quality.
The costs involved will vary depending upon the type of premises you may need, and the staff and resources required for the qualifications you wish to offer. You will need to consider what computer systems and programs you will use, and whether you will offer courses online or use a blended approach.
Selecting an awarding body
You will need to decide which awarding organisation you wish to become approved with. As there are many to choose from (see previous section) you need to choose wisely. I recommend that you consider their reputation i.e. the support and customer service they provide, and not just make a decision based on price.
Pricing also differs between AOs. Some charge an approval fee, an annual fee, and a fee for each external quality assurance activity. Besides these, fees are charged for the registration and certification of learners for each particular qualification. Most AOs make separate charges for registration and certification, and if a learner leaves before completing, you do not get your money back.
Not all AOs offer all qualifications, you will need to locate the website of an AO you wish to go with and check out what they offer. Take time to consider what you want from an AO and don't make a rash decision.
Documentation needed to become a training provider
When you have decided which AO to go with, you will need to complete their approval documentation (which might be done online). The documentation will probably include two forms, one for centre approval and one for qualification approval.
Once you have made an application, you will be contacted by the AO and a date will be arranged for a meeting or a discussion to go through your application. It might be that the qualification approval (see below) is discussed at the same time as your centre approval.
You will need to supply details such as those to do with your premises, staff and resources; as well as provide various documents and records such as: policies and procedures, templates for assessment and internal quality assurance (IQA), and staff CVs.
Once you have met all the requirements to become a centre, or if you are currently a centre, you can apply to offer particular qualifications or add qualifications to your portfolio.
You will need to make an application to your AO detailing the qualifications you wish to offer, along with details of relevant staff and resources. Once you have made an application, you will be contacted by the AO and a date will be arranged for a meeting or a discussion to go through your qualification application.
You will need to make sure that your staff and resources are all suitable for each qualification you wish to offer. Depending upon the number of learners you will be registering, and the qualifications offered, you will need at least one assessor and one internal quality assurer.
You should be able to download the qualification specification from the AOs website, or they will email it to you. Reading this will help you to ensure that you have everything in place beforehand i.e. suitable staff and resources. If you don't, you will receive an action plan from the AO with appropriate target dates for any missing aspects. The qualification specification can be used to plan how you will deliver, assess, and quality assure the qualification.
Bye for now