You’ve got the skills to pass on; people have asked you to teach them and you’ve got a thriving social media page with likes and shares right, left and centre. But how do you turn your main business into a training centre? 
 
We’ve put together a brief guide on the type of things to consider if you think becoming a training centre is right for you and your business. 
What am I going to teach/train/assess? 
 
The general rule is that you can teach/train/assess at the level below the qualification that you have yourself. For example, if you hold an NVQ level 3 in Administration, you can deliver an NVQ level 2 in Administration… unless you have significant occupational competence, or experience in that area of work. Sometimes, subjects such as Leadership and Management don’t require you to have a qualification in it in order to teach it, if you have lots of management experience. The other exception is often when you hold the highest level that there is in your area of specialism: generally you can then teach/train/assess the same level, once you’ve amassed some decent experience. 
 
If you’re considering becoming a training centre, you’ll probably have a fairly good idea of the type of thing you’d like to teach! But if you only have a level 1 or 2 qualification in that subject and not a significant amount of occupational competence, it might be worth upgrading your own qualifications before starting to offer qualifications in your business. Reed is a great place to check for courses. 
 
What qualifications do I need? 
 
If you want to offer accredited courses (more on this in a minute), you’ll need an awarding body to accredit what you do (more on this in a minute too). Once you have decided on an awarding body (how to do this is coming up), they will be able to tell you what teaching and/or assessing qualifications they want you to have if you’re going to work with them. Generally, as a minimum, they will want you to have a level 3 teaching qualification, such as the Level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET) or the previous version, which was PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector). This qualification gives you the basic knowledge you need to be able to teach and it’s essential for anyone who wants to do any form of teaching. Some awarding bodies ask you to have a level 4 teaching qualification, but this is less common. To give some context, out of the 100 people we have worked with on teaching qualifications over the last year, only two of them have been asked by their awarding body to obtain a level 4 teaching qualification. Most are happy with level 3.  
 
The qualification that may be negotiable (but may not be!) is an assessing qualification. Assessing qualifications have changed a lot over the last few years. We are now offering AET and the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement (CAVA: the assessor qualification) as a combined course, because the assessment unit is (or can be) the same for both qualifications, which means you only have to do it once and it’s a lot cheaper. However, the sticking point a lot of people find with the full CAVA qualification is that you do need to be working with actual learners on courses to provide the observations needed to complete the course. Simulations aren’t allowed. And often you need CAVA to be able to assess! If this is the case for you, talk to us. We have some ideas. 
 
What is the difference between training and assessing? 
 
Sometimes there will be very little difference, especially if you aren’t delivering accredited courses (this is the next point!). There are many different types of trainers and assessors. Some will write courses from scratch using the qualification specification from their awarding body. Some will teach courses that someone else has written – for example, you might buy some First Aid resources and deliver them as a course. However some trainers will deliver a course and their awarding body will require them to assess student work, then have it internally quality assured before the awarding body themselves externally quality assure it. If this is the case, then your awarding body is highly likely to want you to have CAVA. You’ll also need to find someone who can internally quality assure your work, which means checking that you have assessed your students’ work fairly. 
 
We go into detail about exactly how this works in the CAVA qualification so you’ll know exactly what to expect. 
 
What is the difference between an accredited and a non-accredited course? 
 
Have you got any GCSEs? They’re accredited courses. NVQs? Yes. Have you been on a fire safety course? Equality and diversity? Safeguarding? Those are less likely to be. They might be, if they have an awarding body behind them, but often those will be in-house courses. An accredited course is a nationally recognised course that will have been approved by an awarding body. You’ll have a certificate for it and it will usually have a level attached to it; for example, CIBTAC Level 5 Award in Laser Tattoo Removal. A non-accredited course might come with a certificate and a level might be mentioned but it will only be an in-house certificate and won’t be nationally recognised. There are advantages to non-accredited learning, such as – of course – the learning that takes place and it may well increase a student’s confidence so that they go on to further study, but if you’re only offering non-accredited courses, be aware that you are unlikely to be able to charge much and the majority of students do want to have a qualification that means something in the outside world, particularly in the beauty industry where having an accredited qualification makes a difference to the insurance you can get…or whether you can get insurance at all. 
 
It can be extremely confusing to find out which courses are accredited and which aren’t. If you look for courses on Reed.co.uk , you’re met with millions of courses and many organisations are simply not transparent when advertising. As such, you might find courses that look ideal with a good price but once you start to investigate it you find it isn’t linked to an awarding body, which means it isn’t accredited so no one will recognise it when you’ve completed it. The best way to tell – other than by asking – is to check the OFQUAL website. OFQUAL regulate qualifications, exams and tests and, if a course is real, it’ll be listed on the OFQUAL site with an OFQUAL number. 
 
Ideally, you’ll be offering accredited courses with OFQUAL numbers attached. That way, your students know what they’re studying with you is a quality course. Your awarding body sort out the OFQUAL numbers, so that’s not something you have to do! 
 
What is an awarding body? 
 
An awarding body is an examination board that sets examinations and awards qualifications. They will provide you with qualification specifications that look like this . Awarding bodies you might already know include City and Guilds, OCR, Open College Network, VTCT, NCFE, Cache, CPD, AQA… there are lots of them. 
 
The beauty industry uses an interesting approach to accrediting courses. The Beauty Guild allow registered centres to create their own courses and programmes and, once approved, the Guild provide a stamp for you to add to the certificates you give to your students. This makes the course accredited, but this also means that a course in Eyelash Extensions that a student did with you isn’t necessarily the same as one they did with the salon down the road… yet the certificate would say the same thing! This isn’t a negative point, necessarily, but it is something you would need to consider when deciding on an awarding body or process for your organisation. 
 
Which awarding body shall I use? 
 
There are so many to choose from. When we set up SKL Training, Open College Network (West Midlands Region) was the obvious choice for us because we had worked with them before in a previous life. We already knew that they were great value for money, totally supportive of student development, welcoming of different assessment methods and offered the range of qualifications that we were looking to deliver. We looked at some others, like City and Guilds. While they also offer a fantastic range of courses and – of course – everyone has heard of them, we wanted to be able to offer courses that were really good value for money for our students and City and Guilds are more expensive. Plus they are stricter in terms of the types of assessments they like their centres to use for certain qualifications. For example, with the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, City and Guilds prefer the majority of evidence to be provided in the form of assignments, reflections and observations. Many of our students are kinaesthetic learners, which means they prefer to learn by doing. As such, they aren’t necessarily going to provide their best work when doing 12 essays to complete a qualification (also, do I really want to assess 12 essays for every student? Not really! This is a consideration too!). We know Open College Network are more flexible and supportive in this way, so they felt like a better fit for us. 
 
When you’re choosing your awarding body, if you need one, think about the following: 
 
What awarding bodies are well known in my area of specialism? One way you can find out is by visiting the OFQUAL website and searching for a qualification in the area you’d like to deliver. You should then be able to see what awarding bodies are available and can research them from there. For example, if you’re interested in delivering something such as Beauty Therapy and you search this on the OFQUAL site, you’ll see that some of the awarding bodies supporting this type of qualification are City and Guilds, VTCT, EDEXCEL and IAO. 
 
What are the awarding body’s requirements for a centre? Once you have a list of awarding bodies you’re interested in, simply visit their website and find the become a centre link. Here’s the one for Open College Network (West Midlands Region) as an example. You should be able to tell from here what they want you to have in terms of policies, qualifications and general set-up. If the first few you look at don’t match what you have, keep looking. They’re not all the same and – as we found – some are more flexible than others. As with anything, if you keep looking, you will find your perfect match. 
 
How much do they charge for centre recognition, registration and certification? Again, hopefully you will be able to find this from their become a centre link. But if not, just give them a call. This is extremely important because these types of costs will make a huge difference to the amount you charge your students. This is why you should always be a bit suspicious if you see an accredited course advertised for £100 or less… how on earth is that organisation covering their costs?! If registration for a short accredited qualification can be anything from £10-£50, is the tutor working for free? Make sure you know if there are separate charges for certificates to be sent or if those charges are included in the registration charge. Also bear in mind that most awarding bodies will charge you to keep your place with them every year and sometimes that charge will fluctuate depending on how many learners you’ve registered in the year. Often, the more learners you register, the higher the fee. 
 
Does this awarding body align with my organisation’s ethos? A lot of the time, if you’re doing lots of delivery, your awarding body can feel like additional members of your organisation, so it’s important you’re on the same page. As we mentioned earlier, Open College Network is the right fit for us because of the way they view the learner experience: it’s the same way that we view it. There are other awarding bodies who have a similar outlook, of course, but the fact that Open College Network have a local branch (it’s just up the road from us in Wolverhampton) means that when they offer training or if there are any meetings at their head office, it isn’t a huge issue to go up there and get involved. They also do frequent work for charity and, as the two of us at SKL Training both worked for charities for a long time and aim to support charities through our work in the near future, these values are important to us. 
 
How much is it going to cost? 
 
This depends on what exactly you need. You may need to obtain your teaching and assessing qualifications, which can be done in a variety of ways. You may need to pay for centre recognition, registrations and certifications. Your insurance costs may increase. If you’re delivering accredited courses, you may need to hire an internal quality assurer, if you don’t have one to hand. There are resources, candidate packs, preparation and assessing time to consider. Not all of it will have to be paid at once, but you may find your business paying out a lot more than you initially bring in. You may have learners lined up already, but what happens when they have finished their courses with you? Advertising costs money and Facebook now like you to pay to get any decent audience reach. You may choose to advertise on Reed, which can be very effective. They charge a monthly fee if you’re a sole trader and charge by the lead for everyone else. 
 
What next? 
This has just been a brief guide! As well as the teaching and assessing courses you may need, we offer a Centre Set Up service to include specific advice and guidance, policy writing, advice on advertising and getting it absolutely right. We can also help with resource production and internal quality assurance services. Contact us for more information! 
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