This policy is aimed at centres delivering Safety Training Awards regulated qualifications or units and independent tutors, assessors and IQAs sub-contracted in by centres to undertake specific tasks (following prior agreement with Safety Training Awards), and who have failed to meet aspects of our delivery and assessment requirements and/or the standards laid down by the regulatory authorities in respect of regulated qualifications and units.
This policy is also aimed at learners who are in breach of any requirements set out in the assessment criteria. If there has been a failure to comply with Safety Training Awards’ policies or procedures or breached the term of any agreement with Safety Training Awards (‘non-compliance’), this policy sets out the sanctions Safety Training Awards may impose in such situations.
It is also for use by our staff to ensure they apply any sanctions in a consistent manner.
It is important that all centre staff/personnel, including independent tutors, assessors and IQAs involved in the delivery and assessment of STA regulated qualifications are fully aware of the contents of this policy and its possible implications on your centre should you fail to comply with the requirements specified by Safety Training Awards (some of which are required of us by the regulators).
Ensuring the Standards of Our Qualifications and Units
Safety Training Awards has a responsibility to the learners completing our qualifications and the UK regulatory authorities to ensure that centres and their centre personnel, including independent tutors, assessors and IQAs involved in the delivery and assessment of STA regulated qualifications, deliver and assess in accordance with the relevant Safety Training Awards qualification specification.
Safety Training Awards work alongside external quality assurers (EQAs) to monitor the centre’s effectiveness against the approval criteria and standards that have been agreed to. If an EQA identifies an issue of non-compliance they will report this to Safety Training Awards and will work collaboratively to impose the appropriate level of sanctions.
Approach to Sanctions
Safety Training Awards has a range of sanctions that can be imposed on a centre and their centre personnel, including independent tutors, assessors and IQAs involved in the delivery and assessment of STA regulated qualifications depending on the seriousness of the situation, the level and track-record of the centre’s and centre’s personnel of non-compliance, the performance of any independent tutor, assessor and IQA and the risk to the interests of learners and the integrity of the qualifications and units.
We reserve the right to apply conditions and sanctions on a centre and/or any centre personnel, including independent tutors, assessors and IQAs which we have determined as having an issue of non-compliance to ensure certification of learners is accurate and reliable and that the standards of our certifications and qualifications are maintained.
Nonetheless Safety Training Awards aims to ensure that the application of sanctions is a last resort and through our approach to centre support and management, and the creation of appropriate action plans, we will work with centres (who are primarily responsible for any independent tutors, assessors and IQAs they employ or sub-contract) to prevent situations arising that would warrant a sanction being imposed.
If there are any concerns about a potential issue of non-compliance, then Safety Training Awards and/or the allocated EQA will complete a risk assessment to determine the level of risk involved and the security of the certification.
If sanctions are required then we will not hesitate to apply them, with the sanction(s) being applied depending on our determination of the nature and severity of the non-compliance. Below is a list of example situations where we, having determined that there is an issue of non-compliance, may decide that it is appropriate to impose a sanction. These are only indicative and are not meant to form an exhaustive list:
- Outstanding actions
- Poor records to confirm assessment decisions
- No internal quality assurer (IQA) in place
- Proven collusion or persistent bad marking of centre marked assessments
- Suspected or proven cases of maladministration/malpractice at the centre and/or the services provided by the centre and/or its satellite centres or third parties
- Made certification claims before learners have completed the unit(s)/qualification(s)
- An increased likelihood of an adverse effect occurring (e.g. something that is likely to have an adverse effect on the standards of the qualifications they are delivering or public confidence in qualifications)
- Refused access to premises and/or records to the staff of Safety Training Awards or the regulatory authorities
- Breached any requirement contained in the approved training centre agreement and/or qualification approval application submitted by the centre and accepted by Safety Training Awards
- Repeatedly breached requirements contained in the approved training centre agreement and/or qualification approval application submitted by the centre and accepted by Safety Training Awards in such a manner as to reasonably justify doubts about its ability or intention to deliver our qualifications and services in accordance with the terms of outlined in the application(s).
It is important to note that the following are not classified as sanctions, but standard good awarding organisation processes or best practice and they may be applied instead of a formal sanction and/or alongside a sanction:
- When a centre is first recognised and approved by us to offer one of our qualifications, and/or if they have subsequently applied and been approved to offer another qualification in a sector or qualification type that is significantly different from previous qualifications they offer, we will approve the centre to offer the qualification(s) and not process any certificate claims for the qualification(s) until the centre has received a satisfactory monitoring visit. This approach is normal practice amongst awarding organisations and is generally seen as good practice and is intended to help ensure the centre is delivering this ‘new’ qualification effectively before certificates can be issued.
- Should a centre refuse to pay outstanding fees after various contact with our finance team, then we may remove approval and/or centre approval with immediate effect. Such a decision would not be considered a sanction but a commercial decision.
- Undertaking additional visits to a centre to provide them with a greater level of support and/or monitoring depending on their needs and performance.
- Requiring specific centre personnel (e.g. independent tutors, assessors and IQAs) to undergo additional training and/or scrutiny by the centre if there are concerns about their ability to undertake their role in the delivery and assessment of our qualifications effectively. Such decisions would normally be communicated to the centre via an ‘action’ following a centre EQA monitoring visit. It is important to note that we reserve the right to impose a number of restrictions against individuals at any time. Ordinarily restrictions would be imposed against individuals either during or prior to conducting an investigation into maladministration or malpractice connected to a centre with whom the individual(s) is/are connected. Restrictions against individuals may include not permitting specific personnel to be involved in the delivery/assessment of our qualifications for a specified period of time.
- Altering the way, and the period in which, centres receive assessment materials from Safety Training Awards if there are concerns around their ability to maintain the security and confidentiality of such materials.
- Appointing our staff to observe an assessment at the centre if there are concerns around the centre’s arrangements and/or the centre is unable to resource particular assessments. Such actions will be discussed with the centre during or after a centre EQA monitoring visit
- Applying a penalty fee on the centre if they have breached our assessment paper procedures and this has led to us having to fully withdraw an assessment paper from circulation.
Sanctions That May Be Imposed on Centres
Sanctions that may be imposed as part of a centre approval, qualification approval decision, monitoring activity or investigation into a complaint, appeal or allegation of malpractice and/or maladministration include withholding certificates (e.g. suspending certification status) and preventing further learner registrations by the centre (e.g. suspending registration status):
- A single qualification
- An entire qualification sector
- An entire qualification type
- All qualifications.
Recommendations by the EQA in relation to the above types of sanctions will be reviewed by the Head of Compliance and Assurance at Safety Training Awards, and if there is clear evidence of non-compliance by the centre and/or a sufficient rationale then the sanction will be imposed on the centre.
Any expenses incurred in ensuring compliance with any informal measures or sanctions applied by us must be covered by the centre.
In all instances the nature of the sanction and the rationale for its application will be communicated in writing to the centre.
If a centre disagrees with the decision the first point of contact is the assigned EQA, then refer to Safety Training Awards’ Enquiries and Appeals Policy.
Only where we determine that there are exceptional circumstances of extremely serious non-compliance or the persistent failure of the centre to address outstanding actions, and/or the failure of previous sanctions to address the issue, would Safety Training Awards impose, via STA Online, the ultimate sanction of removal of qualification approval in relation to:
- A single qualification
- An entire qualification sector
- An entire qualification type
- All qualifications and in turn the centre’s ‘approval’ with Safety Training Awards.
Safety Training Awards expects that it would never impose the immediate withdrawal of approval for a qualification or range of qualifications without:
- The centre being given an opportunity to address the area(s) of non-compliance
- First of all imposing one of the previous sets of sanctions
- There being evidence that the non-compliance poses a significant threat to the interest of learners or the integrity of the qualifications and units.
Should a centre have its approval for a Safety Training Awards qualification(s) removed, we will take all necessary steps to protect the interests of any learners that are currently registered against the qualification in question. For example, we will either certificate them for any achievements to date and/or seek to transfer them where possible to another Safety Training Awards approved training centre (ATC) to enable them to continue with their learning.
In addition, upon the removal of approval, the centre shall:
- Immediately cease to offer Safety Training Awards qualifications and services and shall at its own expense immediately deliver to Safety Training Awards all relevant and specified deliverables (e.g. assessment materials) and/or dispose of materials if instructed to do so by us. If the centre fails to do so we may take action to recover such materials where relevant.
- Immediately cease to operate as an approved training centre by Safety Training Awards and shall immediately cease to describe, promote, market or advertise itself as an approved training centre by and/or offering the relevant qualification(s)/service(s).
Sanctions That May Be Imposed on Learners
Should a learner, or range of learners, be found to have committed malpractice then the following sanctions may be imposed on them in accordance with the arrangements outlined in our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy (which may be communicated to the learner by Safety Training Awards and/or the learner’s centre):
- Issuing a written warning that if the offence is repeated further action may be taken
- Loss of all marks/credits for the related work/unit
- Disqualification from the unit(s)/qualification
- Placing a ban from taking any further qualifications with us (e.g. for a set period of time).
Sanctions That May Be Imposed on Independent Tutors, Assessors and IQAs
Should an independent tutor, assessor and IQA be found to have committed malpractice then the following sanctions may be imposed on them in accordance with the arrangements outlined in our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy (which may be communicated to the independent tutor, assessor and IQA by Safety Training Awards and/or the centre they are employed by or sub-contracted to):
- Revoking approval for the centre to use a specified independent tutor, assessor and IQA if there are concerns around their performance.
- Revoking approval for a range of centres to use a specified independent tutor, assessor and IQA (if they work across more than one) if there are concerns around their performance. In doing so we will ensure any notification is legal and factual so as not to adversely affect their reputation.
Appealing a Decision
If a centre wishes to appeal a decision to impose a sanction then please refer to our Safety Training Awards Enquiries and Appeals Policy, which can be found on our website or you can request a copy by contacting us.
Ensuring Consistency in our Approach
The length of time any of the above sanctions will be imposed for will depend on our assessment of the situation that warranted their introduction.
The Head of Compliance and Assurance will be responsible for regularly reviewing the application and maintenance of sanctions to ensure they continue to be appropriate and proportionate to the incident(s) and risk of future incidents occurring.
We will review the policy annually as part of our quality assurance requirements and will revise it as and when necessary in response to customer feedback, trends from our internal monitoring arrangements, changes in our practices, actions from the regulatory authorities or external agencies or changes in legislation.
If you would like to feedback any views, please contact us via the details provided at the end of this policy.
Last Updated: 10th September 2018