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Professional Accreditation

620 Outdoor Professionals have so far achieved Accreditation with IOL

Accreditation indicates that nationally recognised standards within the outdoor learning profession have been met.

The Institute has developed a range of Professional Accreditations for practitioners at different stages of practice within the outdoor learning profession.


Who is the accreditation process for?

They are designed for all types of practitioners – youth workers, teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, development trainers, instructors – working within any branch of outdoor learning including adventure, environmental studies, forest schools, bushcraft, expedition work, recreation, drama, art or any other area of outdoor learning with a developmental aim.

You can apply for the awards regardless of whether you are employed, self-employed or a volunteer.

Accreditation is about all aspects of the person.  Some job descriptions do not allow full expression of professional practice. Therefore, we allow experience from other aspects of your life/career to be drawn upon to provide evidence of competence.

All these awards are for experienced practitioners and accreditation at any level indicates that nationally recognised standards within the outdoor learning profession have been met. 

Why be accredited?

The accreditation scheme:

  • is based upon and fosters the development of reflective practice
  • provides a framework for development
  • provides evidence of how you have integrated and applied your knowledge, values, and skills into your practice
  • complements National Governing Body Awards
  • recognises the complete range of skills required for effective outdoor learning practice (not just those relating to technical and safety issues)
  • indicates your commitment to developing yourself and the profession
  • demonstrates your level of understanding and experience to clients and employers
  • provides a route for engagement with the profession outside your own practice

Which level of accreditation is best for me?

There are four levels of accreditation. The different levels within the scheme indicate the level of experience and competence of the practitioner and also the contribution that they are making to the field of outdoor learning.  For more information on each level of accreditation, please consult the linked pages.  You can use the following documents to help you decide which level of accreditation will suit you best:

  • Self  Assessment - where applicable this document will be included in the relevant Accreditation level information

Levels of accreditation

  • Registered Practitioner (RPIOL) – for practitioners who have consolidated experience of independently facilitating sessions with developmental aims in controlled situations.
  • Accredited Practitioner (APIOL) – for practitioners who have consolidated experience of independently facilitating outdoor learning programmes (as opposed to sessions) with developmental aims in challenging situations.
  • Leading Practitioner (LPIOL)  – for senior outdoor professionals who are making a significant contribution to outdoor learning at regional level.
  • Fellow (FIOL) - for senior practitioners who have made an outstanding, strategic contribution to outdoor learning at national level.  (Accreditation at this level is also awarded without application to outstanding contributors to the field from time to time)

Please note that accreditation at LPIOL and Fellow levels can only be embarked upon after accreditation at APIOL level has been achieved.  You need to be an individual member of IOL in order to apply for any level of accreditation. 

To enrol on RPIOL and APIOL, please contact Louise at IOL or T: 01228 564580 and see the relevant web pages on this site.

The IOL Professional Development Team and contact information

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