British Gymnastics

The Job

British Gymnastics (BG), the governing body for the sport, became a recognised awarding organisation in the early 2000s, successfully navigating the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) approvals process to then award three coaching qualifications (each available in up to 10 disciplines) on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). At the time, BG’s rationale for going down this route was a perception that unless they became their own awarding organisation, they would lose control of their qualifications. Having operated as an awarding organisation for some years, with a variety of resource challenges along the way, they were faced in 2010 with having to migrate their NQF qualifications on to the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).

An internal review identified that to meet the new challenges, they would need to channel more resources into their awarding organisation, resources that they didn’t have, nor work that they felt was part of their core governing body function; which was to develop a coach education structure that provides world class gymnast development programmes. BG also had reservations that their knowledge and level of expertise in QCF qualification development might limit their ability to fully engage with the QCF. The internal review considered a number of options for the future, including outsourcing their awarding function to an independent awarding organisation.

BG had concerns about outsourcing, principally whether or not they would still have control over the content of their coaching qualifications, whether or not the end user (the learner) would still see the qualifications as BG qualifications and what the financial implications were.

The Solution

Because of 1st4sport Qualifications’ unrivalled track record and experience of working with over 30 other governing bodies of sport, and experience in awarding 100+ qualifications on the QCF, BG felt that working with 1st4sport Qualifications was the natural choice. After meeting and developing an understanding of the 1st4sport Qualifications symbiotic partnership model, BG’s initial concerns were allayed and it became clear to them that there were both financial and operational advantages in working with 1st4sport Qualifications.

The Results/Benefits

Using the qualification and awarding expertise of 1st4sport Qualifications led to the seamless migration of gymnastics 30 coaching qualifications from one qualifications framework (the NQF) to another (the QCF) and one awarding organisation to another. The move freed up significant resources at BG and allowed its Education Department to concentrate on the areas that mattered most to the sport: developing a successful coach education system through improving their coach educator workforce, quality of learning programmes and resources.

What the Client Says

“One of the main benefits of continuing to work with 1st4sport Qualifications is that we remain compliant with the UKCC and any new regulations regarding the awarding and certification of qualifications. We were relieved to work with industry experts who understand both the terminology and complicated detail of regulatory requirements and who can then translate that into something we can understand. It allows us to focus on our main area of expertise: developing a successful coach education system for gymnastics. We feel that 1st4sport Qualifications’ processes and systems have helped us to reinforce good practice and have been a catalyst for change where areas for improvement were needed. Working in partnership with 1st4sport Qualifications has subsequently seen improvements in the quality assurance, assessment materials and administration of our qualifications.

“To organisations thinking of switching to an external awarding organisation, I would recommend choosing 1st4sport Qualifications. There does need to be a great deal of patience and communication from both sides for the transition. The strong relationship British Gymnastics now has with 1st4sport Qualifications is down to both parties being able to constructively check and challenge each other. There is a great deal of staff support to British Gymnastics for all areas of qualifications, such as quality assurance, resource development and reasonable adjustments for learners with specific needs. The experience they have in working across the industry means we do not have to work alone in these areas and can benefit from their cross-sport experience.”

Kathryn Bonner, Head of Education, British Gymnastics