I recently had the opportunity to join Doug Jones on inspection visits for two well known national accreditation schemes which lead to awards for safety and quality for outdoor education centres.
Doug is highly regarded and exceptionally experienced in the field of outdoor and adventure education management and practice, particularly in the field of inspections and quality assurance.
The Awards are called the AHOEC (Association of Heads of Outdoor education Centres) Gold Standard and LOtC (Learning Outside the Classrooom) Quality Badge.
Both awards are inspected by a robust and well thought out inspection process with a high standard required to pass the LOtC QB and an even higher standard required for the AHOEC Gold Standard.
On Thursday we met at the Longrigg Centre near Sedbergh in Cumbria and were introduced to the centre manager Rob Gregory and his colleague Dave Hollingham. Together we took a tour of the centre and grounds as well as observing a stream scramble activity in progress in nearby Barbondale. During the stream scramble we were able to spend time speaking with students and staff from the visiting school and also the Longrigg instructor leading the activity. After this we spent some time reviewing the centre’s SEF (Self Evaluation Form) and going through the inspection criteria discussing issues and looking at supporting evidence. All in all a very constructive and sound process which used the time available very efficiently.
The following day we met early at East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre near Whitby on the East Yorkshire coast in time for the morning staff meeting and breakfast with centre staff, visiting school staff and students. This was a busy day for the centre, with groups going of in different directions for the days activities, a visiting BBC camera crew who were engaged in making a programme about outdoor education centres and of course the Gold Standard and LOtC inspection. We spent most of our time at the centre with Derek Queenan and again this was a very constructive visit. We were able to join in the morning staff meeting, speak with visiting staff, centre staff and pupils as well as tour the centre and facilities, listen in on pupil briefings and observe kit issue, and go through the SEF and inspection criteria.
Both centres already hold AALA (Adventure Activities Licensing Authority) licenses and this was sensibly taken into account in the inspection process to avoid duplication and to allow the efficient use of time on site.
Thanks to Doug and centre staff for agreeing to have me join in for both sessions. This has provided a clear insight into the processes which underpin these two national accreditation schemes and gives additional confidence when advising that the schemes provide sound and credible reassurance about safety and quality standards.
Both centres passed their inspections and renewed their LOtC Quality Badge and AHOEC Gold Standard accreditations.
For more information about both centres, follow the links above.