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The process of bringing a new RLSS UK qualification or award to life

The process of bringing a new RLSS UK qualification or award to life
RLSS UK qualification and award development

We are the UK and Ireland's leading provider of training in lifesaving and lifeguarding. We service the leisure industry with the most robust and detailed qualifications and awards to ensure leisure staff stay at the forefront of water safety and life support.

Our qualifications and awards are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure the content is: up to date, incorporates the latest developments, and remains informed by the most recent guidance and legislation.

In-house development

We have an in-house team of three professionals (each with an area of specialism - open water and beach, lifesaving and swimming pool, and First Aid) dedicated to developing our highly regarded qualifications and awards portfolio. They keep an eye on course activity and have an open dialogue with Trainers and operators to gain regular feedback on course resources and materials.

The team works 12-18 months ahead of themselves, considering seasons, reacting to industry needs, mandatory updates, and changes in the law.

The team take a step-by-step approach to development:

  1. Is there a need for the qualification? Is there a niche in the market, is it supporting the industry, is it reacting to feedback, is it solving an issue or challenge, is it helping to develop the leisure industry? Ultimately, is there a demand for the product? e.g., There was a need in the surf sector for a lifesaving course, so we developed the National Surf Coach Lifesaving Award (NSCLA).
  1. Is it viable? Map the project to check its viability - generally taking around four to five months of internal and external discussion. When working for a charity, money and time must be spent wisely, to achieve charitable aims.
  2. Ask our stakeholders - bring together a working group of stakeholders, including RLSS UK Approved Training Centres and Providers (ATC/Ps) – small, medium, and large operators, both existing and potential candidates, and industry experts.e.g., for NRASTC, we spoke to all potential users (including small, medium, and large operators, independent swim schools, Swim England, and Water Babies).
  1. Agree on the course content and topics – what to include, how delivery should happen, and how assessment should take place.
  2. Developing the qualification – the RLSS UK in-house qualification development team then allocates a Project Leader and develops modules, learning outcomes and assessment criteria, drawing on the consultation group, Stakeholder Working Group and RLSS UK advisors as and when needed.
  3. Generate working drafts such as content syllabus and draft manual – by going back and forth to the stakeholder group.
  4. Piloting the course – we ask stakeholders to deliver pilot courses to find out if it makes sense to non-stakeholders, ensuring a variety of candidates take part (with both prior and non-prior learning/understanding).
  5. Fine-tuning – following pilot courses and assessments, we work to refine the qualification or award further by using the feedback from those involved in the pilots.
  6. Bringing the qualification to life – we arrange photoshoots and a film shoot (if required) to demonstrate skills, environments, and key parts of the qualification or award.
  7. Collaborate with designers to create the course manual and resources.
  8. Challenging the assessment strategy – is it robust and fit for purpose? We spend time carefully reviewing, testing, and considering the assessment strategy.
  9. Seeking endorsement - once sign-off is received by the Stakeholder Working Group, we seek the appropriate validation - to strengthen the qualification, e.g., NRASTC recognised by Swim England and NSCLA endorsed by Surfing England, following a comprehensive technical review and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
  10. Launch time – where we tell the industry the award or qualification is coming, using a supporting marketing campaign.
  11. Update or train those that will deliver and assess – we develop a method to upskill Trainer Assessors, usually an online Update detailing delivery and assessment.
  12. Candidate manuals - delivered to the warehouse ready for distribution.
  13. Review – we continue reviewing to ensure the qualification/award remains fit for purpose.

Stages specific to regulated qualifications

Define what level of qualification.

  1. Develop learning outcomes and assessment criteria and qualifications specification
  2. Obtain support and demand from the industry to prove it is a relevant and required qualification.
  3. Sign off by the responsible officer and put onto the framework.

Unrivalled credibility

We have a panel of over twenty of the most senior and highly regarded advisors and medical experts, with expertise and knowledge expanding across all relevant subjects and water environments (some at an expert witness level), to bring you industry-leading qualifications and awards. 

This impressive list includes Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Anthony (Tony) Handley MD FRCP, former Chairman of the Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) and current National Advisor in BLS and AED, and Dan Jacklin, a Director and UK representative to the International Life Saving Federation of Europe (ILSE) and board member for several assurance boards for chartered bodies, including CIMSPA, IEMA, and IOSH.

We also work with the Resuscitation Council UK, First Aid Quality Partnership Group, First Aid Awarding Organisation Forum and European Research Council to ensure our qualifications and courses are of the highest standard, widely viewed as best practice and ratified.  

Informed and trusted

RLSS UK sits on many national and industry panels, such as several BSI Working Groups, to evolve and develop national safety standards. We also receive frequent requests to advise the Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and Health & Safety Executives (HSE) on water-related incidents and accidents.

RLSS UK also increasingly finds itself one of the go-to organisations, for professional comments and advice on water safety, for the British media.

We are recognised and monitored by Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and CCEA Regulation in Northern Ireland. Many RLSS UK regulated qualifications are also formally endorsed by The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).