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We keep our policies and associated procedures under constant review, responding to changes in regulation, in relation to feedback from our centres and making adjustments here and there when we can see that this will improve things for all who work with us. We have recently introduced a new policy on Subcontracting and have refreshed our External Quality Strategy to provide more clarity so we thought now would be a good time to run through some of the changes that we have made to key policies in the last 6 months:

Centre Appeals

This policy sets out the procedure for centres to appeal against a decision or action we have taken. For example, if you want to challenge a sanction we have applied or our evaluation of your centre’s risk status, you may wish to make use of our appeals policy; that is, if a more informal communication with us has not resolved the issue.

This policy has been updated to be more clear for readers about the stages of an appeal and examples of grounds for appeal which we hope will help make this policy easier to understand and for you to make use of if required.

Learner Appeals

This policy is broadly similar to the Centre Appeals policy but provides a focus on the reasons a learner may want to appeal a decision or action taken by us and how they should do this. This policy applies only to decisions or actions taken by YMCA Awards not by your centre; learners should use your appeals policy to appeal decisions or actions taken by you. You may or may not be in full support of your learner’s reasons to appeal a decision or action taken by us but you should support your learner in understanding your centre’s own appeals and complaints policies as well as the YMCA Awards’ appeals and complaints policies; we can also help with this support where appropriate to do so.

We have updated this policy to address some of the confusion that can occur in working out whether a learner should be using the centre’s appeal process or ours and whether a complaint may be more appropriate than an appeal. As always, we are available to help provide clarity when questions arise and we hope the guidance added to this policy helps.

Centre subcontracting

This is a new policy that we introduced in October 2018, to give clarity and guidance on arrangements that an approved centre may intend to have with another organisation to deliver or assess YMCA Awards qualifications. The policy provides a definition of subcontracting and states our requirement that centres must seek approval from us before using another organisation to deliver or assess our qualifications.

If you are considering subcontracting out any of your provision of YMCA Awards qualifications (for example, to another training provider for part or all of the teaching) you should read this policy to get a detailed picture of what we will require and how we will work with you to ensure the same standards of delivery and achievement for learners.

We know that quite a lot of our centres choose to use freelance staff for roles such as internal quality assurer and we don’t class this as subcontracting but it’s always good to check with us on this and you can do that when you submit a staff approval for freelance staff (as you would for any new member of staff) or by dropping us an email or giving us a call in the usual ways.

Conflict of Interest

We require each of our approved centres to have a written Conflict of Interest Policy and to comply with the arrangements set out within their policy. In addition to this we have our own responsibilities to identify and manage conflicts of interest. This policy covers both the management of conflicts of interest within YMCA Awards and our approved centres.

We have strengthened the value of this policy for our centres, our staff and other stakeholders by providing a clearer definition of conflict of interest, linked to the definition given by Ofqual, Qualification Wales and CCEA Regulation along with example conflicts of interest. In this new version of the policy we are also much clearer about the requirements for centres regarding conflicts of interest so you can see what we expect in this area. You can also read how we identify and manage conflicts of interest.

External quality assurance strategy

This document covers the overall framework and step-by-step stages in our external quality assurance strategy. The strategy focuses on how we monitor our approved centres, including how we support the quality of your provision of YMCA Awards qualifications from initial centre approval all the way through to issuing certificates for you learners. It is helpful to read the strategy along with our guidance on the role of the centre internal quality assurer (IQA) which is available in the “centre guidance” area of our website.

In reviewing earlier versions and updating this document, we have said more about the risk-based approach we take to external quality assurance so that you can better understand what type of monitoring and quality assurance support you can expect. We have also provided information about visits we make to observe external and practical assessments and our request to you for learner assessment evidence (anonymised) that we can use for standardisation activities and qualification review.

Malpractice and Maladministration

This policy has been updated to improve guidance for centres on how to best prevent, investigate and deal with cases of suspected malpractice or maladministration. We’ve included more information on actions to take when an incident occurs, notifying us and what you can expect of us in response to notifications of suspected malpractice and maladministration. The guidance also includes advice for centres on how to carry out investigations and an overview of how we carry out our own investigations when required.

We want to work with you to prevent malpractice and maladministration wherever we can so that our qualifications and your organisations maintain the excellent reputation we are all working on every day; we hope that this policy strengthens our ability to do this. Please read through and let us know if you would appreciate more information on any aspects or have suggestions for issues or approaches we could include in the next update.

Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration

In updating this policy we have been more specific in our definition of reasonable adjustments and special consideration, when each can be applied and how to contact us to apply for a reasonable adjustment or special consideration for a learner. There is a reminder in this guidance that you do not need to seek a reasonable adjustment for internal assessments and that you will need to have your own procedure for acting upon learners’ requests for reasonable adjustments in line with the 2010 Equality Act.

A table towards the end of the document lists the reasonable adjustments that you as the centre can apply and those that you will need to seek permission from us before applying. It’s worth noting that you should always seek reasonable adjustments at the earliest opportunity; we will always do our best to meet learners’ needs at the last minute but we wouldn’t want a learner to be disadvantaged because the request came in too late for us to sufficiently respond. Timescales for submitting reasonable adjustment and special consideration applications are given in the document.

We also want to draw your attention to a reminder that your centre should keep records of the reasonable adjustments you have applied (the adjustments applied without requiring permission from us) so that we are able to collate all the adjustments of all types across our centres. This enables us to see which qualifications have the most reasonable adjustments applied (and which type of adjustment) to help us see whether there is anything about the design of the qualification we can change to lessen the need for adjustments. We want to continue to make our qualifications as accessible as possible whilst maintaining the integrity of the assessments and the high value of a YMCA Awards qualification.

Sanctions

This policy explains the sanctions we can impose on centres if there is an issue of non-compliance with the conditions of approval or our policies or procedures. We will always work with our centres to avoid the application of sanctions; for example through setting appropriate actions and supporting improvement.

The application of sanctions is part of our risk-based approach to external quality assurance and are typically applied when it is a safe precaution (for example, a temporary stop on registration) in order to protect the interest of learners and the reputation of YMCA Awards qualifications. We know it is important to our centres that they deliver high quality qualifications so by applying a sanction to a centre we are thinking of the learners’ interests at that centre as well as YMCA Awards learners and centres more widely so that all can trust in the integrity of YMCA Awards.

We updated this policy to improve the information we give on the rationale for a sanction (provided in the sanctions tariff table) and to clarify the procedure for imposing sanctions and the YMCA Awards staff involved.

You can find all of our policies in the Policies and Procedures area of Centre Guidance on our website; you don’t need to be logged in to access any of these published policies. If you have any comments or queries on any of these policies we welcome hearing from you; please get in touch with YMCA Awards’ Head of Quality and Compliance via awards.feedback@ymca.co.uk