Running your own training centre

Running your own training centre

So you are thinking of running your own training courses at your own academy… Amazing idea and its totally worthwhile doing.

A centre is a business which has been approved by an awarding organisation (AO) to offer their qualifications. Any business can become a centre, providing they meet the requirements to operate as a centre; and to deliver, assess and quality assure particular qualifications. Examples of centres include: colleges, private training organisations, commercial businesses, charities, adult education centres, prisons and the forces. Private companies can be registered training centres wishing to offer an extra service to their business.

If you wish to become a centre, you will need to have suitable systems, along with policies and procedures; as well as appropriate staff and relevant resources. You don’t have to employ all your staff, you can use freelancers or those who are self-employed. However, you will need to keep full records and make it clear if staff are responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance, and if they can claim any legitimate expenses from you. We can provide these policies and procedures for you, at a small cost (contact for details. You will also need to have the relevant insurance in place.

An awarding organisation (AO) is a business which is regulated by a public body, for example by: Ofqual, SQA, Qualifications Wales and CCEA. The AO enables approved centres to offer qualifications to learners. Successful learners will receive a certificate with the AOs name on, as well as the name of the centre. Examples of Awarding Bodies are EdExcel, Pearson, City and Guilds, QNUK. There are over 100 of these.

An AO will design and develop qualifications which meet the requirements of employers and standard setting bodies (SSB). Several AOs can offer the same qualifications. This gives choice and enables competition. There will probably be an SSB for the qualifications you wish to offer. It might be worth finding out who they are, and how they work with AOs to develop qualifications.

AOs offer regulated qualifications (those which are on a regulated framework e.g. the RQF) as well as creating bespoke qualifications to meet a particular need, for example, in a particular employment area. AOs usually award vocational qualifications, whereas awarding ‘bodies’ award academic qualifications such as GCSEs and A levels.

Ask yourself if you have the time and the money to invest in the premises, staff and resources required to be a high quality centre. You should want to offer excellent customer service to your learners, train and support your staff, be accessible and responsible to all, and be passionate about quality.

The costs involved will vary depending upon the type of premises you may need, and the staff and resources required for the qualifications you wish to offer. You will need to consider what computer systems and programs you will use, and whether you will offer courses online or use a blended approach.

You will need to decide which awarding organisation you wish to become approved with. As there are many to choose from you need to choose wisely. I recommend that you consider their reputation i.e. the support and customer service they provide, and not just make a decision based on price.


Pricing also differs between AOs. Some charge an approval fee, an annual fee, and a fee for each external quality assurance activity. Besides these, fees are charged for the registration and certification of learners for each particular qualification. Most AOs make separate charges for registration and certification, and if a learner leaves before completing, you do not get your money back. These can be anything from £200 to £`500 per year.

Not all AOs offer all qualifications, you will need to locate the website of an AO you wish to go with and check out what they offer. Take time to consider what you want from an AO and don’t make a rash decision. Check which awarding bodies offer the qualifications you wish to deliver. For example, you may want to chose three qualifications for your business to run such as first aid, health and safety and personal licence training. Some awarding bodies may offer all three meaning you can offer all these courses and more with just one AO. The alternative would be to become accredited with more than one giving you more flexibility but that comes with more admin and more fees.

When you have decided which AO to go with, you will need to complete their approval documentation (which might be done online). The documentation will probably include two forms, one for centre approval and one for qualification approval.

Once you have made an application, you will be contacted by the AO and a date will be arranged for a meeting or a discussion to go through your application. It might be that the qualification approval (see below) is discussed at the same time as your centre approval.

You will need to supply details such as those to do with your premises, staff and resources; as well as provide various documents and records such as: policies and procedures, templates for assessment and internal quality assurance (IQA), and staff CVs.


The staff you need in place is a Centre Manager, this person is responsible for the Centre and is often a Senior person at the organisation. This person does not need to be qualified however it may make better sense if this person has experience in teaching, assessing and the internal quality assurance to ensure you have a better understanding of the process involved in delivering training and to ensure that staff are following the procedures that have been set. For each qualification you wish to deliver, you need a tutor or assessor (determined by the awarding bodies requirements). The tutor or assessor needs to be qualified in either qualification but is dependent upon the course you wish to teach. For greater flexibility and greater prospects, its advised to possess both, read our article about which one you should have here. The tutor or assessing is responsible for teaching and/or assessing however you need an IQA (internal quality assurer). This is a requirement to run regulated qualifications and the role of this person is to ensure that the training and assessment of the qualifications that are delivered uphold the greatest standards and ensure that the assessment criteria has been met. This person will check your standards and assess documentation prior to submission to the awarding body for your certificates. The person teaching or assessing is not able to be the IQA as there is a conflict of interest so this person needs to be different and cannot be involved in the assessment process. The IQA must also be qualified and experienced in the subject that you wish to deliver.

Once you have met all the requirements to become a centre, or if you are currently a centre, you can apply to offer particular qualifications or add qualifications to your portfolio.

You will need to make an application to your AO detailing the qualifications you wish to offer, along with details of relevant staff and resources. Once you have made an application, you will be contacted by the AO and a date will be arranged for a meeting or a discussion to go through your qualification application.

You will need to make sure that your staff and resources are all suitable for each qualification you wish to offer. Depending upon the number of learners you will be registering, and the qualifications offered, you will need at least one assessor and one internal quality assurer.

You should be able to download the qualification specification from the AOs website, or they will email it to you. Reading this will help you to ensure that you have everything in place beforehand i.e. suitable staff and resources. If you don’t, you will receive an action plan from the AO with appropriate target dates for any missing aspects. The qualification specification can be used to plan how you will deliver, assess, and quality assure the qualification.

I want to run a beauty therapy academy

I often get asked from clients who want to run their training academy and we do have some recommendations for you.

VTCT are an organisation that offer beauty therapy, hairdressing, retail, hospitality and business skills. This gives you greater flexibility to expand and grow your centre beyond your niche.

Babtac offer an insurance package for beauty trainers and the process will involve an annual payment and a fee for each short course that you set up with them. Your classes will then be accredited through an awarding body and your new candidates will meet the necessary insurance requirements for their salons.

The other option is Beauty Guild, you only need to hold a teacher qualification.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions about getting accredited to run your own school. We have delivered consultancy to dozens of training academies throughout the UK in a wide-range of sectors.

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