Lord-Lieutenant marks Doncaster business’s Queen’s awards

Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Mr Andrew Coombe, The Queen’s personal representative, was on official duty this October as he marked a Doncaster-based business’s achievement of the Queen’s Award.

Directors from the Highfield Group were presented with a crystal bowl and commemorative certificate signed by the Queen and Prime Minister at an official presentation held at the organisation’s offices on 20 October 2016.

And guests, which included civic dignitaries, business leaders and VIPs, were treated to a performance by a choir from New College, Worcester, a school for blind and partially sighted children, on behalf of Highfield’s chosen charity, Visually Impaired Children Taking Action (VICTA).


(L-R) Chris Sprenger (Managing Director), Richard Sprenger (Chairman), Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire Mr Andrew Coombe, Jayne Sprenger, Jason Sprenger (Chief Executive).

The Highfield Group, one of the UK’s leading education organisations, was announced as the winner of the award as part of the national celebrations to celebrate HM The Queen’s 90th birthday on 21 April.

Queen’s Award winners are chosen by a panel that includes the Prime Minister and leading figures from government and industry, making it one of the most sought after accolades for British businesses.

Highfield, which has three offices across Doncaster and employs over 200 staff, is the UK and Middle East’s leading suppliers of compliance, apprenticeship and work-based learning qualifications, training materials and e-learning.

It is one of the UK’s largest exam boards, and is actively involved in the development of the UK workforce and productivity, as well as contributing to government plans for three million apprenticeships by 2020.

The organisation, which has its headquarters on Heavens Walk, works with some of the biggest names in international business to help develop their staff, including PepsiCo, Nestle, Marks & Spencer and Superdrug, and each year supports over 2 million learners across the globe to achieve their educational aspirations.

Jason Sprenger, Highfield Chief Executive, said, ‘This is a great achievement for Highfield, and I was honoured to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire and accept the certificate and crystal bowl on behalf of the business and everyone here who has worked so hard to achieve it’.

Representatives from Highfield received the award in person from Her Majesty at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 14 July 2016, with this further presentation held to celebrate the achievement alongside colleagues, customers and partners.

For more information on Highfield, go to www.highfieldabc.com For regular updates, go to https://twitter.com/HighfieldABC and www.facebook.com/HighfieldABC

For more on the Queen’s Award, go to www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise/overview

Apprenticeship Standard for Wellbeing Support Workers

skills-for-healthSkills for Health has launched a consultation on proposals to develop an apprenticeship standard for the wellbeing support workers job role at Level 2 after an expression of interest for health promotion assistant was rejected by the government.

The survey aims to gather opinions on whether the new role profile looks accurate or needs amending, and will gather feedback on how employers refer to the role internally, how many people are employed in the role (or would look to employ once the apprenticeship route is available) and whether you would be able to support the new expression of interest, due to be submitted in November.

To take part in the survey, click here. To find out more on the new healthcare apprenticeship standards, click here.

If you replied to the health promotion assistant survey, or are named as part of that steering group, please also respond to this one so that a new expression of interest can be developed.

The survey runs from from 19 October until 12:00 pm on 16 November 2016.


Join us at Food Safety: Guide to Compliance and Best Practice in the Catering Industry

Next month Highfield will be hosting a specialised food safety event to support the launch of the British Hospitality Association’s revised publication of the Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering.

This event will focus on key updates contained within the guide, provide knowledge and understanding of current issues and trends within the sector, and also feature presentations from food safety experts including Euan MacAuslan.

Euan MacAuslan

Euan speaking at our National Conference 2014

Euan began his environmental health career in the army in 1978. On his departure he built on his existing knowledge and expertise with a breadth of consultancy work until he joined The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Since 1992, he has been managing the council’s public health training services, and is also a level 4 food safety examiner with qualified teacher learning and skills status. Euan has been a key contributor to Highfield for over 14 years, and has assisted in the development of publications, qualifications and training. He has also spoken about best practice food safety at several industry events throughout his career.

We are pleased to welcome Euan back to speak at our conference, where he will be delivering a presentation focused on the major updates contained within the industry guide. Further information regarding the food safety event is available here.

To book yourself and/or your colleagues on to this event, please visit here. Alternatively, you can secure your place by calling our Sales team on 01302 363277/0845 226 0350 or by emailing the Events team at events@highfieldabc.com.

Government publishes new guidance on the apprenticeship levy

The government has released further guidance on the new apprenticeship levy, providing a clearer understanding of how it will be funded, and the role employers and training providers will play.

From 6 April 2017, all UK employers that have an annual pay bill of over £3 million will be required to pay an apprenticeship levy to invest in apprenticeships. The funding will support people of all ages to gain high-quality skills and experience and help employers to offer more training opportunities and build a skilled workforce.

Here are the key points from the proposals today:

  • Employers that are too small to pay the levy will have to pay 10% of the training costs, with the remaining 90% paid by the government.
  • Employers with less than 50 employees will not have to pay towards the training costs of 16 to 18-year-old apprentices, which will be 100% met by the government.
  • Employers who take on a 16 to 18-year-old apprentice will receive an additional £1,000.
  • Employers and training providers who take on 16 to 18-year-olds or young care leavers with an education, health and care (EHC) plan will receive additional funding.
  • Employers will be able to use levy funds to retrain workers in new skills, even if they have prior qualifications.
  • Employers subject to the apprenticeship levy, who want to spend more on training than is in their digital account, will see 90% of their additional apprenticeship training costs funded by the government.
  • From April 2017, a register of training providers will be available to improve the link between training providers and employers. The proposed funding system will consist of 15 bands, each with an upper limit and which will range from £1,500 to £27,000. 50% of each apprenticeship programme must be delivered by a training provider.
  • Employers who are also training providers will be subject to Ofsted regulations.
  • Providers who have an Ofsted rating of grade 4 will be unable to provide apprenticeships.
  • Apprenticeship providers will no longer be rewarded with a double payment for each apprenticeship start.
  • The success payment (paid upon successful completion of an apprenticeship) will be replaced with a 20% completion payment, regardless of the final grade.
  • Apprenticeships will be available to everybody over the age of 16 at all levels.
  • Training providers who have apprentices enrolled on programmes that do not receive approval on the new register of apprentice assessment organisations will have their learners transferred to another provider. This is currently under consultation.

To help employers see how the levy and funding system would impact them, the government has also created a new online calculator, which is available here.  This easy-to-use tool will allow employers to understand how much they will have to pay and how they could use their digital funds to pay for future training.

A consultation on the plans is now open, and will close on 5 September 2016. Employers and training providers are invited to have their say on the initial funding proposals to try to ensure that the final plans fully meet the needs of all those involved in the apprenticeship programme. If you would like to take part in the consultation, please click here.

The final proposal on the apprenticeship levy is due to be confirmed in October 2016.

The apprenticeship levy funding proposal is available here; additional guidance on the levy can also be viewed here.

Value of Leadership and Management within Healthcare Settings

In this article, Highfield’s subject matter expert for health and social care, Maddy Thomson, highlights the benefits of leadership and management training within healthcare settings.

High-quality care and skilled and qualified leaders and managers go hand-in-hand. In adult care, managers are not only responsible for the service provided to those who receive care and support, but also for supporting a team and influencing the quality of care across a service or organisation. Good leadership and management can transform an organisation, while underdeveloped leaders and managers who lack confidence can destroy it. So it’s important that leaders and managers have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills.

Social care organisations also need to develop strong leaders and managers to meet the challenges ahead amid the growing complexity of the social care sector. Adult social care faces challenges due to demographic changes and cultural change to innovate to provide individualised person-centred care across a wide spectrum of diverse needs. Dynamic and well-trained leaders and managers can be the catalysts for the changes that need to happen and provide the best response to the market place in a continued environment of efficiency drives.

The State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England 2015 report estimated that managerial and supervisory roles accounted for 7% of jobs, approximately 115,000. This group included senior managers, middle managers, line managers, registered managers and other managerial roles not directly involved in providing care. The figure specifically for registered managers, who need the skills and ability to manage and prepare for CQC inspections, was 22,500.  Numbers are set to increase as demand for social care services continues to grow, and a clear qualification route for progression will be an important mechanism to support employers in growing the future managers they need.

However, career progression in adult social care is often thought to be problematic.  One key factor is the intrinsic difference in the nature of management roles as opposed to care and support work. Team members with excellent care and support skills at level 3 are primary candidates for promotion into management but many find themselves unprepared for the very different set of knowledge and skills required.  These diverse skills are reflected in the different focus of the Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Services as compared with the Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care. Many employers report that the gap between these is too great for learners and it presents a barrier to progression.

Employers have continued to call attention to the absence of this route direct from level 3 into management, which is the most common progression path. A new qualification is now being developed – the Level 4 Certificate in Principles of Leadership and Management for Adult Care. The purpose of the qualification is to provide a progression route into management roles in social care settings from a variety of starting points. It will also serve as an induction route for managers new in their post, ensuring that the Manager Induction Standards can be achieved in the context of accredited learning and assessment.

The qualification will be knowledge only, to allow as broad an audience as possible to achieve it including those who are not yet in management roles.

Skills for Care, which has initiated the development, will liaise with CQC to ensure the proposed qualification is understood as a recommended development route for new managers.

By providing progression into the management role, the qualification will aid career development from care and support into management, and from non-social care degrees into social care management.

The qualification will map closely to both Skills for Care’s Manager Induction Standards (as revised 2015) and to the successor qualification to the QCF Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People’s Services that is planned. It will therefore offer an aligned route into the key competence qualification for social care management and support managers in meeting CQC’s expectations for workforce development.

The new qualification is available in England only and likely to be eligible for funding through the Workforce Development Fund administered through Skills for Care. Highfield has been involved since the planning stages and has participated in the development of the qualification, which will be available later this year

Sources –  Skills for Care

A special offer for Highfield customers

Last week, our directors attended a royal reception at Buckingham Palace for a very special audience with Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth to receive the Queens Award for Enterprise. The informal reception was also attended by fellow members of the royal family including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Anne, Princess Royal, Princess Eugenie of York and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

To celebrate this special occasion, alongside our approaching 35th birthday, we are delighted to announce a special offer for our loyal customers that will run for 35 days – a day for each year we have been in business.

QA or 35th Birthday SO NEW

From today until 17:00pm on Thursday 18 August 2016, customers will receive £250 credit for every £1,000 (ex. VAT) spent in a single transaction during this period.  The credit can be used to purchase Highfield qualifications or training resources, including e-learning, as advertised on our website or within our brochure.

Terms and conditions

  • the special offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotion
  • the special offer is redeemable through email and telephone orders only
  • coupon code ‘QA35’ will need to be quoted to redeem the credit
  • this offer can only be redeemed a maximum of 3 times per customer
  • the special offer expires Thursday 18 August 2016
  • minimum spend required, excludes VAT

We would like to thank you for your continued support and for all of your celebratory messages in recognition of our award.

Better care in my hands: A review of how people are involved in their care

A new report by the Care Quality Commission describes the extent and quality of people’s involvement in their health and social care. Better Care in My Hands seeks to review how much people are involved in their own care, and offers insights into the progress and continued challenges in this vital area.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. Its purpose is to ensure that health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care. It works alongside care providers to monitor, inspect and rate services to protect people who depend on such services.

Founded by CQC’s national reports and inspection findings, national patient surveys and a literature review, the report identifies what enables people and their families to work in partnership with health and social care staff and illustrates this with examples of how people are involved in their care in services that have been rated outstanding.

The review also gives some practical recommendations for providers, commissioners and system partners to ensure improvements are made in the future.

To read the full report, please click here.

Further information on this report is also available here.

Sector skills councils launch consultation on future qualifications

Following the government’s changed policy on qualifications and apprenticeships across all sectors, the two sector skills councils responsible for the health and adult care workforces – Skills for Health and Skills for Care – have been working together to consider the future approach to health and adult care qualifications.

Both sector skills councils are committed to qualifications that have, at their core, shared knowledge and skills, which support the vision of employers and provide integrated services and the portability of skills and knowledge across the health and adult care workforce.

healthcare pic - 4

Following a review into the content of current qualifications, they are holding an open consultation that will allow healthcare professionals to have their say on the councils’ proposed content changes to level 2 and level 3 health and social care diplomas.

Further information on the imposed changes is available here.

If you would like to contribute to this consultation, please visit the online survey here.

The questionnaire will close on Wednesday 10 August 2016.

New Qualification for Commissioners of Care Services

Marjorie Shucksmith is Highfield’s qualification development manager for the health and social care sector, in this article she discusses the role and important of social care commissioners, and the positive impact new standards will have on the sector.

While there had been gradual changes in the focus of social care commissioners towards promoting citizenship, health and wellbeing, the Care Act 2014 put into legislation the duty to promote the wellbeing of individuals. This means ensuring that services maximise the potential for self-care and build on the skills and assets of each individual.

To help address the new challenges this presents, new standards (Commissioning for Better Outcomes) were developed by a team from the Health Services Management Centre at Birmingham University, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and funded by the Department of Health. It was launched to assist with the implementation of the changes brought about by the Care Act to achieve high-quality commissioning activities and to drive improvement by encouraging local authorities to follow a self-assessment process. For many, this will result in changes to current practice:

‘…to focus on promoting wellbeing and on outcomes, to be more responsive to community needs, to enable individuals as commissioners of their own care, and to actively promote collaboration across the whole system.’

Commissioning for Better Outcomes, 2015

A commissioner for wellbeing is responsible for ensuring that there is a supply of sufficient provision to meet demand for social care in their local area. This covers both the service type and the capacity of that service. The social care commissioning workforce is responsible, in most local authorities, for the largest element of local authority expenditure and as such have a significant impact on local economies. This is in part through the number of care jobs created as a result of commissioning a service, but also when considering any other local supporting services, such as catering and building services. The role is constantly evolving in response to the needs of their local area, and commissioners must have the knowledge and skills to review local demands to meet them appropriately. Managing supply and demand in a person-centred and outcomes-focused way is key to the role of a commissioner for wellbeing, and partnership arrangements, coproduction and consultation have increased importance in this role.


‘Effective commissioning can only be achieved by empowering people who need care and support, their carers and families to play a leading role in shaping and driving the changes they want to see Local authorities are responsible for a responsive, diverse and sustainable market of service providers that can provide high quality, personalised care and support that best meets the needs of people.’

Skills for Care, http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Topics/Commissioners/Commissioners.aspx

As well as those that work in commissioning roles in local authorities, there are similar changes in focus for those who provide adult social care services, in terms of how they commission (subcontract) parts of their own service.

These changes mean there is a potential skills gap in the current workforce and therefore a need for a new qualification to be developed for both existing care commissioners and also with the purpose of providing a clear career path to those aspiring to become care commissioners. HABC is working closely with Skills for Care and a number of local authorities to develop the new Level 5 Certificate in Commissioning for Wellbeing, which will cover key areas such as:

1)      The role of a commissioner for wellbeing

2)      Commissioning together for outcomes

3)      The commissioning cycle

4)      Professional development for effective commissioning

The qualification will be assessed by internally set and assessed pieces of work such as assignments, reports, presentations and research projects. The content of the qualification will be knowledge-based and allow learners the flexibility to apply the knowledge to scenarios and situations to demonstrate their understanding and ability in commissioning for wellbeing.

The qualification will be ready to deliver in October 2016. If you are interested in finding out more, please register your interest at info@highfieldabc.com

Rockin’ the boat for VICTA

Save the date for this year’s annual Dragon Boat Race, which will be returning to Doncaster for a seventh consecutive year on Saturday 9 July 2016.

Highfield team members will be picking up their oars and taking to the water in traditional and beautifully decorated 30-foot Chinese dragon boats all in the name of a good cause. They will be battling against local businesses to see who will be crowned this year’s ‘dragon boat champions’.

Each team will comprise 10 paddlers of all ages and abilities and will complete a 250 metre course, and for what all members of the Highfield team may lack in experience they certainly make up for in enthusiasm and determination!

Dragon Boat Poster Graphic (1200x600pixels) (1)

Highfield will be raising money for our nominated charity VICTA, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for families with children and young people who have visual needs. Last year’s event saw teams help raise over £12,000 for the Rotary Club of Doncaster St George’s charity, alongside other charities and good causes, and we hope that with your support we can raise lots of money for a truly deserving charity .

Taking place at Lakeside, Doncaster from 11am – 5pm, the event is free to attend and promises to be a fun day out for all the family. In addition to the on-water action, spectators can expect a range of attractions and entertainment including fun fair rides, craft and charity stalls as well as food and drink aplenty!

For more information about VICTA, or to donate please visit here.