Quality Manual - Leadership Schemes

Last updated 2021

Quality Assurance

Mountain Training administers skills training and qualification schemes for leaders, instructors and coaches working with climbing, hill walking and mountaineering groups. Mountain Training and their award scheme providers educate, offer advice and promote good practice.

Mountain Training manages the quality assurance of their national schemes through individual Mountain Training national training organisations. This manual outlines how Mountain Training England works collaboratively with it's providers, directors and course staff to achieve this.

Providers must adhere to the obligations outlined in the Provider Agreement. The agreement is digitally signed by the provider owner. Our 'requirements' are highlighted throughout the 'Provider and course staff area' and should be consider mandatory.

1. Provider Responsibilities

Providers are approved and supported by their national training organisation for each scheme they deliver.

A provider can be an individual or an organisation, and in many cases is the same person with dual responsibilities. The provider account held on Mountain Training’s Candidate Management System (CMS) has an individual ‘owner’. This individual is the primary link between the provider and their national training organisation.

Providers must;
  • Ensure candidates are registered for the scheme before attending a course.
  • Ensure course programmes achieve the minimum contact time for the leadership scheme.
  • Send course programmes and information to candidates in advance of their course.
  • Appoint an approved course director for each course.
  • Ensure that minimum candidate numbers are met for each course.
  • Disseminate Mountain Training update information to all course delivery staff.
  • Pay fees to their Mountain Training national training organisation.
  • Ensure that appropriate professional indemnity insurance is in place.
  • Ensure appropriate first aid provision is in place.
  • Ensure appropriate licences are in place if required.
Providers may nominate an administrator who has a thorough understanding and knowledge of the scheme and course content. This role can be used for managing the creation of courses and course bookings on CMS however it still remains the overall responsibility of the provider.

Exceptional circumstances can affect a provider’s ability to deliver a course in line with this quality manual. Mountain Training understands this, and in these circumstances the provider must contact their national training organisation in advance for the necessary support.

2. Course Administration (providers)

Providers must ensure;
  • Pre-course communication outlines the scope of the qualifcation within the Mountain Training Pathway, registration process, pre-course requirements, joining instructions and course program.
  • All communication adheres to the requirements highlighted on the Branding and Marketing page.
  • All course staffing adheres to our requirements outlined in the scheme handbook and below. Course staff should be regularly reviewed on their suitability for the role. Scheme Information highlights key staffing requirements within the scheme handbook.
  • Providers must adhere to our requirements outlined on the CMS and Course Reporting.
In communicating directly with candidates, providers are ambassadors for Mountain Training. To support providers in this role, regular dialogue with Mountain Training is encouraged.

Provider promotional material should be reviewed regularly to ensure it reflects current syllabi and guidance. Mountain Training’s website is a definitive resource for all award scheme information.

To avoid candidates booking onto a course for which they are either not registered or is inappropriate for their needs, providers must ensure potential candidates receive relevant award scheme information before accepting their booking. This information should remind candidates of the registration process and minimum requirements for course attendance.

Once their booking is confirmed, candidates must be added to their course on CMS in advance of the course beginning. Joining instructions and a course programme must also be sent to candidates, Mountain Training has model templates for providers to use.

Providers must ensure that minimum candidate numbers are met and recorded on CMS in advance of a course commencing. If minimum numbers for a course are not achieved 5 days in advance of a course commencing, the provider should contact the technical officer of their national training organisation. This officer will assist the provider in making appropriate decisions to give the best possible service to candidates.

Mountain Training wish to give special consideration to candidates who suffer temporary illness, injury or indisposition during courses. If this occurs providers should contact the relevant national training board for further support. Examples of eligibility might include a sudden onset of an illness, bereavement or domestic emergency.

3. Director Responsibilities

Directors are approved and supported by their national training organisation to deliver a scheme for a specific provider. Course directors and staff are ambassadors for Mountain Training and are expected to act in a professional manner.

All courses must have an approved director who is managed by the provider. Directors may work for other providers but must be added to the provider's account in advance of the course.

REQUIREMENTS: The director's responsibilities include;
  • Course coordination (incl. choice of venues, syllabus content to be covered)
  • Managing course staff.
  • Opening and closing each course.
  • Spending at least one full day with all candidates.
  • Spending two complete days delivering on the course (with the exception of single day courses).
  • Debriefing each candidate at the end of each course.
  • Submitting a completed course report form (incl. incident report form if required).

In normal operating procedures, fulfilling the above roles and responsibilities will dictate one course director per course. Therefore, if a provider offers courses on the same dates, or if the dates overlap in anyway, including split/modular courses, the provider should ensure that each course has a different course director.

Mountain Training England recognises that unusual circumstances e.g., staffing issues, staff illness or a family emergency might dictate flexibility in this requirement. In such a situation the provider must contact us and seek permission to deviate from the above requirements.

In cases where the course director cannot open and close the course as outlined above, Mountain Training will accept another approved course director to take over the responsibility in debriefing the candidates and closing the course.

4. Course Administration (directors)

  • Directors must read each candidate’s digital logbook (DLOG) before the end of a course and are strongly advised to read each of them in advance of the course commencing. This is to ensure candidates have met minimum requirements to attend the course.
  • Directors must ensure that all course staff working on a course are familiar with the relevent handbook for scheme, and possess the necessary skills to deliver the course. Directors should be mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of course staff and support them appropriately.
  • Directors must create a positive learning environment that achieves the best possible outcome for candidates, as well as ensuring the scheme requirements are met (inc. min contact time).
  • Directors cannot present themselves as providers. Please refer to Branding and Marketing for further details.
Contact time must be face to face, in person or online, for example using video conferencing software, and allow immediate response to questions and feedback.

Alongside feedback given during a course, each candidate should receive individualised guidance on completion. Observations made throughout the course, and shared with candidates, should be used to outline areas for further development, with guidance given on how to progress and gain appropriate experience.

5. Course Staff Requirements

Mountain Training recognises that the quality of the staff is fundamental to the success of a course. Essential and desirable staff qualities and responsibilities are outlined below.

Providers must ensure all course staffing adheres to our requirements outlined in the scheme handbook and below.

Training Courses

- Have held the relevant or higher award for at least 12 months.
- Have worked as an award holder on 20 sessions within the scope of the award and within the previous three years.

- Attended a Mountain Training Train the Trainers workshop.
- Attended a Mountain Training Course Director and Staff workshop.
- Be a member of one of the associations:
  • Mountain Training Association
  • Association of Mountaineering Instructors
  • British Association of International Mountain Leaders
  • British Mountain Guides
- Have diverse CPD experiences to draw from.
- Have experience working for a variety of appropriate organisations and with diverse groups.

Assessment Courses

In addition to the Training Course criteria above:
- Have experience of working on two complete training courses for the relevant scheme.

In addition to the Desirable criteria above:
- Experience of working with multiple providers for the relevant award scheme.
- Attendance on an approved Mountain Training assessors workshop.
- Involvement in the delivery of in-house training relevant to the award scheme.
- Holding an award higher than the minimum required to work on the award scheme.

Delivery staff are role models for participants. As such, staff should be active hill walkers or climbers relative to the award scheme being delivered. Such currency can be maintained through recreational or work-related hill walking and climbing.

6. Maintaining Approval

Mountain Training expects providers, directors and staff to be committed to the long-term delivery and promotion of award schemes. Mountain Training works in partnership with providers, directors and staff to maintain national standards.

  • Providers and directors must each deliver at least one course for each scheme they are approved every three years. If a course is not delivered within a three year period the provider and / or director approval status will be removed.
  • Course directors are required to attend one of the following events every 3 years to retain their approval;
    • Mountain Training 'Course Directors and Staff Update Workshop - Leader and instructor qualifications'
    • Mountain Training England/ Mountain Training Cymru National Provider Conference
    Although beneficial, Mountain Training 'Tutor and Staff Update Workshop - Skills schemes' attendance will not satisfy this requirement due to the complex nature of leadership and instructor scheme delivery. If you are unsure here please contact us in advance. All events are bookable on CMS.
  • Workshops provide an opportunity for the sharing of good practice and discussion with colleagues. Providers and directors who do not attend a workshop every three years will have their award scheme approval status removed.
  • Directors must be attached to providers on CMS to retain approval.

7. Professional Conduct

  • Providers, directors and staff are expected to behave in such a way as to not bring Mountain Training into disrepute. Behaviour raising concerns could include serious course delivery short comings, the safety and well-being of candidates, public criticism of other providers or inappropriate postings on social media.
Providers and course staff may become aware of potential conflicts of interest. Mountain Training consider a conflict of interest to be where an individual is negatively influenced in their decision making due to potential personal benefit. If providers or course staff become aware of an issue that could be perceived as a conflict of interest they should notify the relevant national training organisation. Mountain Training records potential conflicts of interest.

Providers, directors and staff who behave in such a way as to bring Mountain Training into disrepute may be required to account for their actions. This may merit further action taking place.

8. Observers and Mock Students

Mountain Training recognises the value of observing courses to further personal and professional development. Observation opportunities are at the discretion of the course director in all cases.

Observers should not negatively impact on the course delivery. They must be recorded on the course report (i.e. added as an 'Observers') highlighting which aspects were observed (i.e. within the 'Confidential Comments'). It is not normally permissable to have more than one observer in attendance.

Course directors should support individuals reflecting on their experiences especially if individuals wish to apply for course director approval in the future. A form is available on the Resources and Downloads page to support reflection.

Mountain Training England recognise providers may wish to use mock students to support training and assessment course delivery. If carefully set up and managed the use of ‘real’ people can be extremely valuable. If providers choose to use mock students they must recognise they hold full responsibility for their safety throughout.

Appropriate administration must be completed prior to mock student attendance. Where U18s are involved providers must ensure all appropriate licences are in place and they have permission from a parent/guardian in writing.

9. Course Delivery

Delivery staff are role models for candidates. As such, staff should be active hill walkers or climbers relative to the award scheme being delivered. Such currency can be maintained through recreational or work-related hill walking and climbing.

  • Staff must be familiar with current award scheme information. This will include the scheme registration process, individual award scheme and official Mountain Training handbooks and Mountain Training’s National Guidelines. Mountain Training’s website is continually updated and should be viewed as the definitive source for award scheme information and FAQs.
  • To answer common candidate questions, delivery staff must possess a broad understanding of Mountain Training’s award schemes, their scope and the role of the Mountaineering Councils.

10. Equipment

  • Any equipment provided to candidates must be fit for purpose. Where candidates provide their own safety critical equipment, course staff should ensure this too is fit for purpose. Candidates must be made aware of good practice regarding the retirement of safety critical equipment. As such, course staff should themselves be role models with respect to their own equipment used on courses.
  • An important learning outcome is for candidates to appreciate the variety of suitable and commonly used equipment for the activities being taught. Course staff should enable this process to occur, directing candidates to supporting resources where appropriate.

11. Base Facilities

  • Providers, directors and staff must ensure that appropriate facilities are available for briefings, lectures and candidate feedback.
It is not acceptable to use busy or noisy public areas which may compromise course delivery. Ideally, courses will start and finish at an appropriate indoor venue where it is possible to sit down and talk. All courses may be non-residential.

12. Venues

  • Courses must be delivered in lowland, moorland or mountain regions or at crags and climbing walls appropriate for the specific award scheme, and within close proximity to the course meeting point. Extended travel time during a course should be avoided.
Course approval is granted on the basis of a provider delivering courses at identified locations or within certain geographic areas. Providers and directors are asked to inform their Mountain Training national training organisation if planning to deliver courses outside of these areas to assist in building a national picture of award scheme delivery. Mountain Training courses can only be run in the UK (incl. Isle of Man) and Ireland.

13. Adverse Weather Conditions

Mountain Training recognises that providers and course staff frequently operate in adverse weather conditions, running courses year round. Frequently a flexible approach to course programming creates good learning opportunities for candidates.

Occasionally adverse conditions become severe and it becomes impractical or impossible to run courses effectively and fairly.

Adverse weather conditions include:
  • Wide spread flooding
  • Storm force winds
  • Winter conditions
In the case of adverse weather conditions negatively affecting course delivery providers should consider rescheduling part/all of the course. Providers may contact Mountain Training for additional support if required.

Winter Conditions

The planning of course dates throughout the winter period needs careful consideration. Should heavy winter conditions be forecast or present, providers need to be fully prepared to reschedule courses to a later date. Ideally this should be done in advance to avoid fragmenting the course delivery. Pre-course information for candidates should clearly outline that courses maybe cancelled/postponed during the winter period.

14. Candidate Management System and Digital Logbook

The Candidate Management System (CMS) is a database and online tool, managed by Mountain Training and used by candidates, providers, directors and Mountain Training to administer all award schemes.

The digital logbook (DLOG) is part of the CMS. DLOG is used by candidates to record their experience, and by Mountain Training, providers and directors to evaluate candidate experience.

Please refer to the CMS Guidance and Course Reporting

15. Moderation Visits

  • Providers must allow moderation visits unconditionally at anytime.
  • Providers must satisfactorily complete actions required within timelines given.
Moderation visits are one important part of Mountain Training’s quality assurance system, providing an opportunity for one-to-one dialogue between Mountain Training moderators and candidates, providers, directors and course staff.

Mountain Training aims to visit providers at least once every 3 years. More frequent visits may occur, especially if providers deliver multiple schemes or have multiple directors working for them. Providers may be contacted at any time during the year to arrange a moderation visit. Moderation visits are a minimum of 4hrs in duration.

The moderator will support providers, directors and course staff in maintaining our national standards for the schemes they deliver. It is the moderator’s role to observe, carefully consider and positively influence course delivery by meaningfully communicating with delivery staff, during and after the course.

Mountain Training also uses moderation visits as an opportunity to engage with candidates, verifying that delivery meets their needs and identifying areas where Mountain Training can improve the service provided to them.

Moderators will examine all aspects of course provision and delivery. A blank form outlining the key categories is available on the Resources page.

Following attendance Course Directors will be given written feedback, and actions where appropriate. On the rare occasion that performance is determined to have been unsatisfactory this will be communicated and action points will be given that must be completed within the given time scale. A follow up moderation visit will be attended. Mountain Training reserves the right to suspend or terminate approvals, aligned to terms within the MTE Provider Agreement, if there is significant cause for concern.

A written moderation report will be uploaded to CMS for the course provider, director and staff to read.

16. Equality

Mountain Training is committed to promoting the principles of equality with its award schemes open to all. Mountain Training works with the Mountaineering Councils and other key partners to remove barriers to participation.

Providers, directors and course staff should be aware of obligations in respect of compliance with gender, race and disability discrimination legislation and undertake the delivery of awards in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

Providers, directors and course staff have the discretion to adjust training and assessment methodology to enable candidates to perform to the best of their ability. Mountain Training encourages discussion of such adjustments in advance. For further information please refer to the Reasonable Adjustments Guidance.

17. Incidents and Near Misses

  • Providers, directors and staff must report incidents and that occur during Mountain Training courses, as outlined in the Incident & Near Miss Reporting.
Developing an understanding of risk management is a key outcome for candidates attending Mountain Training award scheme courses, yet facilitating this process requires candidates and course staff themselves being exposed to risk. In rare circumstances this can result in an incident or near miss.

What is an incident?
Mountain Training would consider an incident to be an unplanned occurrence or event resulting in a fatality, injury, loss or damage to persons or property. This includes events giving rise to physical, emotional or psychological harm. An incident may result in a candidate withdrawing from their course.

What is a near miss?
Mountain Training would consider a near miss to be an event, or sequence of events, which could have led to an incident.

The sharing of such information enables Mountain Training to identify recurring issues and disseminate information appropriately to support award scheme delivery.

Incident and near miss reporting is a confidential process. Information is not shared widely unless the way to achieve this is agreed by all concerned.

18. Annual Audit

An audit of provider and director approvals is undertaken annually. Providers and directors who do not meet the minimum requirements outlined within this manual and accompanying policies are at risk of having their provider and director status removed. These requirements extend to ongoing action points given as a moderation outcome.

In the case of a provider wishing to withdraw their provider status they should contact the relevant national training organisation. Please be aware Mountain Training is not responsible for any financial losses incurred as a result of a provider choosing to withdraw.

19. Mountain Training England dispute resolution process

Disputes raised by a provider relating to the MTE Provider Agreement, its interpretation and implementation will be managed using the process outlined in Appendix C of the agreement (P12).

20. Support for providers, directors, staff and candidates

Mountain Training recognises the vital contribution made by providers, directors and course staff to maintain the high regard in which Mountain Training's award schemes are held.

Mountain Training provides a range of services to support providers, directors, course staff and candidates, including:

  • Sharing of updates and good practice through a variety of mediums.
  • Provider and director resources on Mountain Training’s website.
  • Maintenance and development of the Candidate Management System.
  • Opportunity to talk face-to-face with technical staff at Siabod Cottage.
  • Telephone and email support.
  • Immediate online candidate registration process for entry level award schemes.
  • Promotion of award schemes on Mountain Training's website, at events and via stakeholders.
  • Dealing with appeals and complaints in a sensitive and timely manner.

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