Subject: an-open-letter-to-sta-members-customers-and-friends
From: Theo Millward
Date: 4 Mar 2015

It is with great pride I am able to open this month’s Swim & Save e-Zine with news of the biggest month in STA’s history.

In January 2015 we saw an all-time record of 508 courses registered, 75% of which were on our online system – STA Online. This puts STA on track to certify in excess of 60,000 candidates this year across our increasing range of disciplines. This growth is spread fairly evenly across all of our areas but of course, our swimming side continues to perform strongly, which is clear evidence that the vast overhaul this area has seen is welcomed by the market.

Over the past 2 years I have made it clear that as STA grows, the standards of teaching delivery must be maintained at the high level they have been for decades. Our Ofqual and SQA accreditations are paramount to us. Part of my approach to this has been to revolutionise the running of our Awarding Body – Safety Training Awards. As many of you know this has involved the development of an industry leading digital platform that gives us an unparalleled infrastructure to deploy resources and critically, assess our standards – STA Online.

Here are examples of how we do this in such an innovative way:

The system has numerous algorithms assessing the data in real time. Course Organisers who show unusual patterns will be flagged for additional checks – for example consistent high marks or repeated failings
The system randomly selects courses to face closer scrutiny
Our candidate feedback is now independent from the Tutors/Course Organisers – automatically contacting candidates to give direct feedback via an online portal – again this is both digitally assessed against moving averages, as well as flagging courses that need reviewing by our standards team if certain flags are triggered

In addition, we have overhauled and developed the more traditional approach to verification involving STAs experienced team. This includes:

Unannounced moderation visits – in addition to the standard moderation process, additional moderations may occur by external Senior Tutors without warning.
Mystery candidate visits – STA will send Senior Tutors on courses as a candidate where the delivery of that course will be documented
National Tutor Updates – our Senior Tutors have attended mandatory face to face CPDs.

At both the 2013 and 2014 STA Conferences these overhauls were outlined, as well as in numerous e-Zines and STA updates since. Members were warned of the consequences of breaching of standards, and interactive workshops were held in some events that encouraged delegates to discuss the risks and some of the solutions openly – the pursuit of high educational standards has been overwhelmingly been supported from day one.

As a reminder, the consequences of serious breaches of STA’s standards may include:

Suspension from Tutoring/Teaching
In the most serious of cases, expulsion from STA

I would like to warn you all, that these processes are now in full swing. We will honour our commitment to standards regardless of how long a member may or may not have been held membership of STA, or how much income they may or may not provide to STA. No one, and I mean no one, is beyond this agenda of ensuring we deliver the highest quality teaching standards to our customers.

Finally, to put this into very real focus, two investigations have recently been undertaken resulting in the outcomes outlined above:

Involving a member who had falsified records on STA Online and repeatedly refused to provide a satisfactory explanation.
Following the result of a mystery candidate visit on a Senior STA member, serious lapses in teaching standards were identified resulting in immediate suspension whilst a full investigation is carried out.

I would like to urge you all to reflect on what makes STA such a special community and so successful – I hope that as we continue to grow, our heritage of providing exceptional standards will hold strong.

As always, if you would like to discuss any of these matters with my team, we are available Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700 on 01922 645097.

I wish you all a happy and successful 2015!

Theo Millward