CIMSPA quality assurance rollout

CIMSPA quality assurance rollout

Colin Huffen, CIMSPA Head of Education
Jane Mellors, CIMSPA Quality Assurance Manager


The session began with introductions from both Jane and Colin which were followed by a quick interactive game to get the delegates thinking about the importance of ‘quality training’ in our sector. The game involved true or false questions – one of which being “how much does our sector spend on training?” One particular question relating to the many different types of coaching qualifications that are out there, led on nicely to the next part of the presentation – what CIMSPA have been tasked with, specifically: developing professional standards.

Quality is the maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery or production.
— Jane Mellors, CIMSPA Quality Assurance Manager

Colin highlighted both the Sporting Future (HM Government) strategy document and CIMSPA’s Sport England backing, both of which are helping CIMSPA create a career pathway for every individual working in the sport and physical activity sector.

A couple of visual examples of career pathways were shown to the delegates to demonstrate how an individual can progress from a university graduate, or apprentice, to working within the sector.


Quality systems for trainees and employers

During the next part of the session, Colin focused on the importance of having a quality system for trainees and employers. Most employers state college and university graduates do not have the skills they need. 20% of all vacancies in our sector are classed as “hard to fill” due to significant skills shortages (approximately 17,200 vacancies per year). Therefore, we need an education pathway that:

  • Maximises government investment.
  • Produces a fit for purpose workforce.
  • Is attractive to individuals studying in it.
  • That employers own and “invest” into.

What is quality?

The session then moved to Jane Mellors; she too began with a quick interactive game to get everyone thinking about exactly what quality is: “The maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process of delivery or production.” In other words, fitness for purpose.

Jane Mellors, CIMSPA Quality Assurance Manager

Jane Mellors, CIMSPA Quality Assurance Manager

Another key question asked was: are we building the right product and are we building the product right? The emphasis was on looking both forwards and backwards. As such, Jane determined the key factors in building the product were:

  • Forward looking – employer led setting of professional standards.
  • Backward looking – does it meet the professional standards?

Jane emphasised that we need to get the product (professional standards) right first, before we can correctly quality assure anything.

CIMSPA professional standards

Colin then went on to explain who has been working on these professional standards:

The CIMSPA employer partner network are leading the way in developing new professional standards for the sector. All employers from independent sites to national operators, public, private and voluntary are welcome to join CIMSPA’s network.

  • There is engagement with over 90 employers.
  • This is all supported by 12 awarding organisations and over 100 training providers.
  • CIMSPA skills development partners are now delivering over 500 CIMSPA-recognised training and CPD opportunities.

Colin then touched on the fact that CIMSPA will be introducing new membership categories later down the line once all of the professional standards are in place.  

Quality assurance rollout

Following the announcement of the CIMSPA quality assurance rollout (QAR), Jane explained how the CIMSPA QAR is going to work.

External quality assurance:

“A measure of performance according to a predefined set of standards.”


  • Ongoing capture of learner feedback.
  • Ongoing capture of employer feedback.
  • EQA visit to observe training and / or assessment.
  • Visits performed by an experienced EQA associate.
  • CIMSPA review visit with education partner. 

Review visit:

  • How has the partner done?
  • What has been done well?
  • What needs to be addressed?
  • How can CIMSPA help?

Action plan

There will be a RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires Improvement
  • Inadequate

To illustrate how the latter standards will be put into practice in visits, a snapshot of what the EQA and centre visit will look like was shown to the delegates.

Q&A session

This then led to a question and answer session. Examples of some of the questions the delegates asked are shown below:

  • Will awarding organisations qualifications delivered by training providers be QA’d as well as CPD? – Yes but CPD will be QA’d first.
  • How did we come up with the criteria for the EQA observation? – it was employer led.
  • Do we intend to publish the report? - Yes
  • Will the training provider be provided with the criteria beforehand? - Yes
  • Will the delivery be assessed against the criteria? - Yes