It has been more than a decade since IOL began providing individual accreditation awards. In that time over 842 people have achieved RPIOL, APIOL or LPIOL and demonstrated meeting a benchmark for good practice. The awards have been a success and have only been possible with the support of our members who volunteer their time and expertise to act as Coaches and Assessors. However, lest we get complacent, the awards are not without their drawbacks. For example:
- They could have a better fit with what employers/providers want when selecting, training and developing their staff.
- The criteria and process of the awards makes it difficult to accredit prior experience and learning (APEL) gained through the awards, FE or HE study.
After 12 years the existing accreditation schemes are due for review to ensure they are fit for purpose as a professional institute. We are at the beginning of this process of change. In parallel to these IOL reflections, a group of employers in the sector have secured permission from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to create a set of new trailblazer apprenticeships. When successful, these will enable access to funding for training outdoor instructors and leaders that will replace and extend what is currently available. The new apprenticeship standards will be focussed on specific requirements for generic job roles. IOL as the professional body in the sector are working in partnership with the employer-led initiative. The institute will use the apprenticeship standards developed by employers to inform an update and revision of our own professional standards. A focus on end-point assessment will allow for multiple and varied routes to gaining competence and being assessed.
The current proposals are based on four career points, the first three of which are likely to have compatible IOL and apprenticeship standards:
- Outdoor Instructor - Delivering outdoor learning sessions of up to a ½ day in duration to a predefined session plan, usually in rural locations within 30 minutes of help and the business venue.
- Outdoor Leader - Designing and providing a progressive sequence of outdoor learning sessions of up to 24 hours in duration following set business protocols and procedures and tailored to the participants needs, often 2-3 hours away from the business venue and help.
- Accredited Outdoor Leader - Interpreting customer needs to plan, resource, deliver and evaluate a progressive programme of outdoor learning of more than 3 days and often in remote and wilderness locations, potentially several days away from help.
- Certified Outdoor Leader - Developing creative solutions to educational and development needs using a range of locations, activities and expertise. Having the skill set to lead and develop other outdoor learning staff and the capacity to hold overall technical, financial, systems, staff or safety responsibility.
At this early stage both the Institute and the employer group are embarking on a process of collaboration and consultation. It is essential that what each party develops will meet the needs of employers and can help assure the public they will receive safe, effective and high quality outdoor learning. Of course there will be many hurdles in the project to overcome – including working out the simplest way to transfer from RPIOL, APIOL or LPIOL to a new standard. I hope that many individual and organisational members will choose to assist the employer-led group to develop their apprenticeship standards or work with the Institute to shape and define our new professional standards.
The Provisional timetable is below:
Employer-Led Apprenticeship Development & IOL Professional Standards
It is exciting times as we build on the successes of the current accreditation awards.
Please do follow progress on the IOL website and get in touch with me directly to discuss your thoughts and comments.
IOL Professional Standards Manager
Email or 07899 856518