Guidance for Setting Policies and Procedures for Learners

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Safety Training Awards is a government regulated awarding organisation and, as such, must comply with a wide range of conditions set out by the qualification’s regulators. These conditions ensure that rigour and consistency in the awarding of qualifications are maintained and our assessment procedures comply with best practice in the assessment industry.

This guidance aims to provide approved training centres (ATCs) with all the information required to successfully develop and devise a set of key policies and procedures to deliver Safety Training Awards qualifications. The guidance should be read in conjunction with the ATC agreement and relevant qualification specifications.

Please note that this guidance is provided to support you with setting your own policies and procedures to remain compliant with our approved training centre agreement. Under Condition C2 of Ofqual’s Conditions of Recognition, we are obliged to advise our ATC’s on the key policies and protocols that are required to operate as an effective organisation.

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Complaints Policy

All Approved Training Centres (ATC’s) must have a robust complaints policy in place for learners. ATC’s should aim to provide a high-quality service to its learners, but if a learner or a customer feels they have encountered a level of service that is below expectations, then a clear-cut complaints procedure should be in place to investigate such matters.

ATC’s should set out the following principles when developing their complaints policy:

  • A policy review arrangement, which should encompass an annual review procedure as part of the centre self-evaluation arrangements to improve the complaints handling process
  • Clear guidance on how learners and customers can complain, which should include informal and formal routes
  • What details are required from learners and customers including any evidence to support their complaint
  • A confidentiality and whistle-blowing clause that is in line with the relevant whistle-blowing legislation and guidance
  • A clear deadline for acknowledging the receipt of complaints and the length of time it can take to investigate the matter
  • The process for upholding complaints and potential remedies
  • If the outcome is unsatisfactory for the learner or customer, what they can do in relation to escalating the matter to a senior member of staff.

The complaints policy must clearly indicate who the complainant can contact to submit their complaint, and how they should submit their issue, either via post or email.

It is important to note that the complaints policy must not:

  • Handle service-level enquiries which is covered by the centre customer service policy, or
  • Appeals in relation to learner outcomes, which is covered by the appeals policy, or
  • Any complaint about possible malpractice and / or maladministration, which is covered by the malpractice and maladministration policy.

Appeals Policy

All Approved Training Centres (ATC’s) must have a robust appeals policy in place for learners. ATC’s should aim to provide a high-quality service to its learners, but where there are potential learner judgements, an appeals policy needs to be implemented.

ATC’s must have internal appeal arrangements which learners can access if they wish to appeal against a decision taken by the centre. The policy should explain that learners are only able to appeal internal assessment decisions with the centre, although it is possible with Safety Training Awards ATC agreement, that the External Quality Assurer (EQA) could be the final point of arbitration.

The appeals policy will need to be reviewed annually.

It is important that centres state in their policy that any appeals against assessment results can only be made to the organisation that took the decision. Where an external assessment is used, a learner can appeal to Safety Training Awards but only if the ATC believes there is a reasonable basis for an appeal. In such cases, the ATC should take the appeal forward on behalf of the learner.

The ATC must have a clear process for dealing with an appeal, which must include an informal review of the appeal and a formal review of the appeal. There should be a set timeline for investigating and responding to appeals.

Equality and Diversity Policy

All ATCs must have an equality and diversity policy for its learners that is current and in line with the equalities legislation. All ATCs are required to deliver our qualifications through a fair and accessible process, which does not include any unnecessary barriers to entry.

The policy should include the commitment to train all tutors and centre staff on equality and accessibility issues. Those involved in delivering our qualifications must do this in accordance with equalities law, enabling learners’ equal access to the teaching process. ATCs internal assessment must similarly be undertaken without discrimination.

The policy must make clear that where complaints relating to issues of inequality cannot be resolved by the centre, learners must be made aware of their right to appeal through Safety Training Awards’ Appeals Policy.

The ATC should also collect information on diversity, requests for reasonable adjustments or special consideration and access arrangements.

Health & Safety Policy

All Approved Training Centres (ATC’s) must have a robust health and safety policy in place and must carry out relevant risk assessments for all sites used when delivering STA regulated qualifications.

ATC’s must aim to provide a safe environment for all centre staff and learners to prevent any accidents and / or any cases of work-related ill health and to provide adequate management of health and safety risks occurring from any work-related activities.

Please refer to current legislation for additional guidance.

Internal Quality Assurance Policy

The ATC Co-ordinator along with an Internal Quality Assurer (IQA) must produce a number of documents for the ATC which need to be uploaded to Synergy and updated regularly. These are:

  1. The IQA Policy
  2. The IQA Strategy
  3. The IQA Risk Rating and Sampling Plan

There is a guidance document on the Safety Training Awards website within the Approved Training Centres resource area which will help you to understand what these three documents are and how they are produced.

The IQA Policy lays out the personnel and procedures for your Approved Training Centre (ATC). The policy must include a number of key decisions you have made in your ATC and be uploaded to Synergy and made available to the STA and / or your EQA on request.

The IQA Policy will be written by the ATC Co-ordinator and will cover the following:

  1. Who is the named person with the overall responsibility for the ATC’s internal quality assurance:
  • ATC Co-ordinator.
  1. The roles and responsibilities of the team members:
  • ATC Co-ordinator
  • IQA
  • Tutor
  • Assessor

Malpractice and Maladministration Policy

This policy must cover malpractice and maladministration by Approved Training Centres (ATC’s), learners or others involved in the delivery and award of Safety Training Awards qualifications.

Irrespective of the underlying cause or the people involved, all allegations of malpractice and / or maladministration in relation to qualifications and assessment need to be investigated in order to protect the integrity of the qualifications and to be fair to all centres and learners.

When developing a malpractice and maladministration policy you should clearly define the concept of malpractice and maladministration. For example, malpractice can be defined as ‘any attempt to gain unfair advantage in a qualification for oneself or for another’.

When developing your own policy, you may wish to use the following examples of malpractice:

  • A learner copying another learner’s work
  • A learner bringing into an assessment room aids (e.g. notes, mobile phone) that could be used to help answer the examination questions
  • A learner using others’ ideas and words in an assignment without clearly acknowledging the source of the information (plagiarism)
  • A tutor giving a learner unfair assistance with an assessment
  • An invigilator revealing the questions in an examination to learners before the time of the examination.

Your policy must then go on to define maladministration and your understanding of what constitutes such practices. This could be:

‘Any activity or practice which results in non-compliance with Safety Training Awards regulations and requirements constitutes maladministration’.

Examples of maladministration include:

  • An ATC failing to return all examination materials after an examination
  • An ATC failing to issue learners with appropriate notices and warnings in an examination
  • An ATC not ensuring the assessment venue conforms to requirements
  • Errors or omissions in information supplied to Safety Training Awards.

A typical malpractice and maladministration policy should state how learners, centres, invigilators, tutors and assessors can report suspicious malpractice and / or maladministration practices.

All ATC’s are required to report any suspicious activities to the Head of Compliance and Assurance. This needs to be clearly specified in your policy.

You may also wish to refer to Safety Training Awards malpractice and maladministration policy to set out next steps, after the alleged incident is reported to the awarding organisation.

The guidance on setting key internal policies and procedures to operate as an effective ATC is not absolute. You may wish to provide us with critical feedback to improve this handbook for your benefit.

Safeguarding Policy

All Approved Training Centres (ATC’s) must recognise their responsibility in identifying and responding to concerns regarding the safeguarding and protection of children and young people, and vulnerable adults. Your Safeguarding Policy must be written in line with statutory guidance including:

  • Keeping Children Safe in Education (2015)1
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)2
  • Prevent Strategy (2011)3

There should be three main elements to your policy:

  • Prevention through centre support offered to all learners and the creation and maintenance of an organisational-level ethos
  • Protection by following agreed procedures, ensuring staff are subjected to background checks prior to recruitment and they are trained and supported to respond appropriately and sensitively to concerns.
  • Support for learners and centre staff who may have been abused.

You will need to set out your key aim, which can include: ‘Creating an environment that is safe and secure for learners to disclose their issues to Centre staff ‘.

To fulfil your aim, your policy needs to clearly indicate how you will meet the overall aim to protect learners, this may include:

  • All staff and volunteers receiving training in safeguarding as part of their mandatory induction
  • Regular training for staff on identifying safeguarding issues
  • Embedding a robust recruitment policy that enables critical checks in line with safer recruitment (DBS, barred lists, prohibition order checks and references).

Your policy must indicate a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) who will be the key point of call for all reported allegations. The DSO will be responsible for investigating the raised concern through a set procedure. The DSO will also need to refer cases of suspected abuse or allegations to the local Social Services Department in accordance with LSCB procedures, and work with other agencies in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018).

The ATC will need to develop a procedure and process to handle such allegations sensitively, which may include having an investigation panel chaired by the DSO.

Ofqual General Conditions of Recognition (2018)
1 Keeping Children Safe in Education (2015)
2 Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)
3 Prevent Strategy (2011)