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By Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director, Active IQ

“Tara Dillon is quite right to say there are ‘challenging targets’ in the Sport England strategy but let’s not forget we are already part-way down the line on several aspects and a great deal of hard work and investment has already been put into the two key objectives of making the physical activity sector workforce to become ‘more customer-focused and to be recognised as professional.’

“We absolutely welcome Sport England calling for ‘a continuously improving profession’ and I hope they took into account the work that CIMSPA has already done in creating new standards. Alongside CIMSPA, we – and others – have already invested a significant amount of expertise, time and money to develop new qualifications that align to the new standards to ensure that learners are ‘job ready’ as Sport England specifies.  We are confident in these new standards and must continue working towards them. We do not need to ‘establish’ the new framework as the report implies – this has been done.  But we definitely need to implement and quality-assure the new framework of professional standards to bring about the much-needed improvement in professional standards.

“It’s a little confusing where the Report seeks to ‘drive the creation of a qualification framework’ as this already exists in the form of the Ofqual Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).  I think they mean the creation of a standards framework and this is absolutely right and is in hand.  Forgive me ‘splitting hairs’ here but I’m very close to the minutae of our business and we need to clarify key points. Apart from anything else, not lead people to reinvent the proverbial wheel in some areas when there is so much else to be addressed going forwards.

“I’m encouraged by the report stating that it will advocate ‘on behalf of the sector to ensure that sport and physical activity is appropriately considered within the emerging landscape of technical qualifications’.  An independent sport and physical activity pathway for T-Levels has been lobbied for extensively to date without success, so I’m wondering how Sport England plans to go about this? Whilst we await further developments on the implementation of T-Levels, we are focusing on what we know works including our new two-year vocational ‘Extended Diploma in Health Fitness and Exercise Performance’ which has seen our pilot at South Downs College achieve great success with a 100% pass rate.  Half the cohort go straight into the workplace on finishing their course and the other half take the full 144 UCAS points – equivalent of three As at A Level – to progress on to university.

“The scrutiny of Sport England and in-depth analyses of our sector are vital to raise questions, recognize priorities and encourage action – not just re-action! But we must not ignore previous learnings and should recognize where significant progress has been made and successful frameworks and standards created.  We don’t need to return completely to the drawing board on several key issues, so let’s go forward instead.”