Frequently asked questions
Making an Application
Any specialist activities my organisation provides are contracted out to experts. Can I apply via Route 1?
Farms are obliged to apply for the LOtC Quality Badge via Route 2. What is the LOtC definition of a farm with regard to Route selection?
What are the benefits to schools?
Is the LOtC Quality Badge supported by teaching unions and local authorities?
Does this mean that schools no longer need to fill in a risk assessment?
What are the benefits to providers?
What support is there for providers?
History and development of the LOtC Quality Badge
Q: Who awards the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) awards the LOtC Quality Badge. CLOtC is a national charity existing to promote and champion Learning Outside the Classroom so all children and young people can benefit from increased opportunities for high quality and varied educational experiences. Visit http://www.lotc.org.uk/ for more information on CLOtC and to access a wealth of resources for all educational practitioners.
Q: Is the LOtC Quality Badge a safety badge?
A: The LOtC Quality Badge brings together all existing safety badges from across different sectors. Whilst safety is a very important component – and only organisations which have robust safety management systems in place will be awarded the LOtC Quality Badge – the quality of the educational experience provided is also key to receiving the award. Safety is seen as one element of a quality experience.
Q: Is there an expiry date for the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: Yes, for Route 1 providers the LOtC Quality Badge expires two years from the date of certification. For Route 2, the accreditation period depends on the Awarding Body.
Q: What checks are in place to make sure people reapply once their LOtC Quality Badge expires?
A: It is made clear in the LOtC Quality Badge Terms and Conditions that an organisation may only use the LOtC Quality Badge (i.e. display the certificate, use the logo for marketing purposes, etc.) for the period of validity of the award. The database will flag up organisations as they come towards their expiry date and they will be reminded to reapply. If they do not renew their accreditation they will be removed from the searchable database.
Q: What happens if the LOtC Quality Badge is awarded and then rescinded?
A: If there is reason to withdraw the LOtC Quality Badge, then the name of that organisation will be removed from the website directory and they will no longer have the right to display their Quality Badge (i.e. display the certificate or use the logo). This action would be taken following completion of the LOtC Quality Badge Complaints & Compliance Procedure, available here
Q: How do I change my organisation details, site details or password?
A: First log in with the username and password you created during your initial registration. This will take you to your organisation ‘dashboard’ which will list all applications you have made or are working on under both Route 1 and Route 2. To edit your organisation details (which CLOtC uses to contact you regarding your award) or to reset your password click on the ‘Organisation details’ button and then on the ‘edit’ link. You can update your details in the form and then click ‘save’.
To update any site details (which appear on the searchable database), click on the appropriate application in the list and then click on the site you wish to update.
Back to top
Q: Who can apply for the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: The LOtC Quality Badge is available to both large and small organisations providing learning outside the classroom experiences. Full details of the eligibility criteria are available here.Schools that provide LOtC only to their own pupils are not eligible for this award. However CLOtC is currently developing the LOtC Schools Mark to recognise exemplary in-school LOtC provision. For more information on this award please contact CLOtC at email@example.com
Q: My provision doesn't have a permanent site, are we still eligible for the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: Yes. Organisations do not have to have their own site or venue to gain the LOtC Quality Badge. Some will work with schools on the school site, or will use local sites, or will be providing cultural/study visits to a variety of sites and locations, or will broker arrangements between arts professionals and schools. To gain the LOtC Quality Badge the provider will need to demonstrate that they can safely manage these non-specific sites.
Q: Can I apply for the LOtC Quality Badge if I have sites in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands?
A: for Route 1, providers based in all parts of the UK can apply for the LOtC Quality Badge. Providers which have sites in these regions can also apply for the LOtC Quality Badge.
For Route 2, please refer to the appropriate Awarding Body
Making an application
Q: What is the difference between Route 1 and Route 2?
A: Most learning outside the classroom activities fall within the scope of everyone’s experience, such as visits to theatres, art galleries, museums, historic houses, science learning centres, botanic gardens or places of worship. Here the risks are of an ‘every day’ kind and are well within the experience of well trained school staff. Organisations providing these types of activity will follow a ‘Route 1’ process where the LOtC Quality Badge is awarded when the all criteria can be met.
Other activities require a degree of technical knowledge and experience that are beyond the lay person, such as knowing which beaches are safe to conduct studies on at certain states of the tide, or how to ensure a group of children are operating safely on a high ropes course or a climbing wall. Risk assessments used by these providers would not be sufficiently understood by a lay person, so there is little point in teachers asking for them. These providers will follow ‘Route 2’ where their safety management systems have to be assessed by external agencies approved by CLOtC before the award can be made. They will still have to meet the same criteria for ensuring quality as the providers in Route 1. All providers who fall into Route 2 will be assessed on all quality indicators at all visits.
Providers are not able to choose which route they take; it is determined by the activities they offer.
Q: Any specialist activities my organisation provides are contracted out to experts. Can I apply via Route 1?
A: No. The LOtC Quality Badge is a mark to cover all kinds of activities in order to simplify the selection of a provider by schools and other users. Schools using the LOtC Quality Badge as a guide to choosing a LOtC provider may therefore assume that all activities have been assessed.
Your organisation is responsible for all activities it sub-contracts. If your organisation provides any kind of Route 2 activity then your provision will have to be assessed to ensure the quality and safety of that service, whether it is delivered directly or through a sub-contractor.
Q: Farms are obliged to apply for the LOtC Quality Badge via Route 2. What is the LOtC definition of a farm with regard to Route selection?
A: For the purposes of the LOtC Quality Badge it is the active involvement of children in farming practices or the handling of livestock in a farming environment that determines whether a provider should be accredited through Route 1 or Route 2.
There will be situations where a provider has agricultural equipment or livestock on site but can apply for the LOtC Quality Badge through Route 1 because the LOtC activities provided do not involve children coming into contact with livestock or handling agricultural equipment or products.
- An arable or livestock farm hosting educational groups and using the farm’s resources as part of the visit is Route 2
- A commercial horticulture facility where hands-on activities are provided is Route 2
- A large estate which has a house, gardens and farm is Route 1 if the activities take place only around the house and gardens but Route 2 if farm activities are included
- A rural museum which has farm animals is Route 1 if the activities take place only around the historical artefacts but Route 2 if farm activities are included
- A farm providing hill walking or other adventurous activities, but no interaction with farming operations or livestock, should register through Route 2 via AAIAC
- A garden centre which schools visit to study the plants on display is Route 1
- A garden involved in small-scale growing activities should register through Route 1
- A farmer taking livestock into schools should register through Route 2
Back to top
Q: What criteria must providers meet in order to receive the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: The criteria are determined by a small number of generic quality indicators. How these indicators could be achieved will vary according to the size and staffing level of the organisation, as well as the kind of activities provided.
A full list of indicators can be found here.
These generic indicators assess the process by which the organisation/setting attempts to provide a quality learning experience, e.g. the way in which the provider works with the user to plan the experience and set learning objectives. They do not assess directly the quality of the learning experience but use indicators of quality which, if all are met fully and consistently, should result in the organisation providing young people with good quality learning. Of course, the success of planned learning outcomes depends as much on input from the user as it does on the provider.
Q: Are the quality indicators different when referring to Route 1 and Route 2?
A: The quality indicators are identical for Route 1 and Route 2 – the only difference being that for Route 2 providers, each Awarding Body has a more detailed set of safety indicators which sit below the four headline safety indicators.
Q: How are providers assessed?
A: Route 1 providers complete the online Self Evaluation Form (having read the accompanying Guidance Notes) and are then subject to a desktop audit of their application. A proportion of organisations awarded the badge will receive a random quality assurance visit from a member of the LOtC Quality Badge Assessment Team. These visits are intended to ensure that standards are maintained at an appropriate level.
Organisations providing activities assessed through Route 2 will go through a full assessment, carried out by one of the five Route 2 Awarding Bodies.
Q: What happens at an assessment visit?
A: During an assessment you will be asked to provide evidence to show how your organisation meets each indicator. If you are able to show all this evidence the LOtC Quality Badge will be confirmed. If you cannot show the evidence and it is therefore clear to the assessor that you do not meet the indicators than the Quality Badge will be withdrawn. You will not be able to re-apply for the LOtC Quality Badge for another 6 months from the date of withdrawal.
Back to top
Q: How much does it cost to get the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: Route 1:
- Route 1 application: £125
- Route 1 provider organisations with 10 or more sites can pay at a discounted rate of £95 per site
Route 2: The cost of registration for Route 2 organisations will vary depending on the degree of assessment required and also any licenses already held. See the relevant Awarding Body’s website for details:
Back to top
Benefits & Support
Q: What are the benefits to schools?
A: The LOtC Quality Badge provides a simple and easily recognisable indicator of those organisations providing good quality educational experiences and managing risks effectively. By using a provider with the LOtC Quality Badge, a school does not need to request additional risk assessments, policies, etc. thereby cutting red tape and making it easier to give children and young people access to frequent, continuous and progressive LOtC. Using Quality Badged providers will help schools, teachers and other leaders to plan more effective learning outside the classroom experiences that meet the needs of their young people.
For users, the LOtC Quality Badge provides an assurance that a provider:
- Offers ‘what it says on the tin’;
- Takes account of the needs of users;
- as an emphasis on ‘learning/skills outcomes’; and
- Operates in a healthy and safe environment.
- There is just one LOtC Quality Badge awarded across all sectors, so schools and other youth leaders only need to check for one award whichever curriculum area they are delivering.
Q: Is the LOtC Quality Badge supported by teaching unions and local authorities?
A: Yes, most of the teacher unions, many local authorities and the Outdoor Education Advisors’ panel (OEAP) were consulted about the need for the LOtC Quality Badge and were involved in its development. All see great benefits for schools and teachers. The OEAP has advised its Local Authority members to accept the LOtC Quality Badge and not to carry out additional checks which duplicate the areas covered by the award.
Q: Does this mean that schools no longer need to fill in a risk assessment?
A: Teachers and others leading activities should follow the procedures laid down by either their school, local authority or other employer. The ‘How to’ guidance, available from http://www.lotc.org.uk/ has more advice on this. However, because one of the LOtC Quality Badge criteria addresses the management of risk, one of our aims is to streamline the paperwork that schools and LAs will need before sanctioning visits to LOtC Quality Badged organisations and venues.
Back to top
Q: What are the benefits to providers?
A: The LOtC Quality Badge is the nationally recognised benchmark for the provision of educational visits; providing easy recognition of organisations delivering good quality teaching and learning experiences and managing risk effectively. It provides a framework for working in partnership with schools, youth groups and local authorities and aims to reduce red tape, making LOtC Quality Badge holders a more attractive prospect for those organising educational visits. The LOtC Quality Badge is also a framework for developing provision.
For providers, the LOtC Quality Badge will:
- Accredit the quality of educational provision;
- Provide a marketing opportunity;
- Better enable ‘fast tracking’ for client approval;
- Improve consistency in educational provision; and
- Provide a useful development tool - enabling organisations to improve their practice so that they are confident of providing meaningful and inspirational experiences for young people.
A: CLOtC provides a helpline which is the first port of call for all enquiries relating to the LOtC Quality Badge and will be able to assist with most general and specific enquiries. In addition, one to one support is available to organisations who feel they need assistance with meeting the quality indicators, and in developing their provision.
CLOtC is also developing online resources to assist providers with development and sustainability issues, as well as producing a biannual newsletter for LOtC Quality Badge holders which is designed to allow providers to share ideas and best practice.
There are also comprehensive Guidance Notes for completing the Route 1 Self Assessment Form which are very valuable as a guide to meeting the quality indicators even for those organisations pursuing a Route 2 application.
Providers applying for the LOtC Quality Badge through Route 2 can contact the relevant Awarding Body for advice on meeting the requirements for the Quality Badge before they are assessed.
History and Development of the LOtC Quality Badge
Q: Why was it necessary to develop the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: Government consultation suggested that the huge number of safety and quality marks and accreditation procedures in use was very confusing for schools, and teachers cannot be expected to understand all the underlying technical and legal requirements and considerations that apply to different activity sectors. The LOtC Quality Badge was therefore developed to create a single system that brings these 'badges' under one umbrella. The LOtC Quality Badge tells the whole story - this venue offers good quality learning experiences, manages risk effectively, and is responsive to the needs of young people.
Q: Who was involved in the development of the LOtC Quality Badge?
A: The initial consultation phase included workshops with all sector partnerships and many other stakeholder groups, including the Outdoor Education Advisers Panel (OEAP) and the Educational Visits Advisory Committee (EVAC), and speaking with a large variety of individuals, including teachers and groups of young people. Views elicited from this consultation phase fed into a shortlist of options, all of which met pre-agreed scoring criteria, which included the need for the option to: meet the needs of end users; be self financing and low cost; be of minimum burden; be feasible; be accessible; build on current badge schemes to avoid duplication; be robust but take into account the degree of risk of activity; and be supported by stakeholders.
These options were then discussed with OEAP, EVAC and the LOtC National Advisory Group. This resulted in a preferred option, which involves two routes for providers to achieve the LOtC Quality Badge. It builds on existing schemes, avoids duplication of effort for providers and allows providers in sectors with no current awarding bodies to apply for the LOtC Quality Badge.
Q: Who are the external agencies carrying out the Route 2 checks?
A: Awarding Bodies were nominated for each activity sector, primarily using existing awarding bodies that had been working on the EVAC safety badges scheme. Awarding Bodies have incorporated the Learning Outside the Classroom quality indicators into their existing indicators and put quality at the heart of assessments. The five Route 2 Awarding Bodies are: School Travel Forum (STF), Expedition Providers Association (EPA), Access to Farms (ATF), Field Studies Council (FSC) and Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee (AAIAC).
Q: How were the Awarding Bodies selected - is there any danger of a conflict of interest with them awarding LOtC Quality Badges to their own organisations?
A: The five Awarding Bodies for Route 2 were selected because they had already been working with the Government on the EVAC safety badges scheme or had successful and well established schemes already in place.
Their processes and procedures for awarding the LOtC Quality Badge have already been vetted and agreed/signed off by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. They are moderated annually by CLOtC and work in close partnership with the LOtC Quality Badge team.