.     TQM ISSUES & SAFETY ASSURANCE
This page contains details of our AALA certification & knowledge base notes on the AALA 
& other TQM schemes benchmarking outdoor activities centres safety & quality assurance...
The upper page contains factual information about our own AALA / AALS licence. The rest
of this page comprises useful snippets and data we've published previously for any 
interested potential customers, teachers, students & researchers.
  
 AALA  News
FUTURE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE 
MANAGEMENT OF SAFETY AT ENGLISH 
OUTDOOR CENTRES.....


THE HEALTH & SAFETY EXECUTIVE IS NOW PAUSING 
THE PROPOSED ABOLITION OF THE AALS & THE AALA 
ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES LICENSING SCHEME IN ENGLAND...
June 2012. NEWS SOURCED VIA THE INSTITUTE FOR OUTDOOR EDUCATION & LETTER RECEIVED BY IAIN, OUR M.D> FROM THE HSE 
 Result !  Here's some good news !  Following announcements that the Welsh
 & Scottish Governments intend to retain a  statutory licensing scheme for 
adventurous outdoor activities, the English HSE based in Bootle wrote on 
June 29th 2012 to our MD Dr Iain Jennings and other AALA License holders 
in England to inform us that they are now consulting further rather than going 
ahead with what we considered was a very ill considered plan to abolish the 
AALS and AALA schemes here in England.

The two major issues our government appear to have finally woken up to fully 
appreciate and value are the issues of the need to reassure users of the safe 
operating procedures and practises of professional operators like ourselves 
- and the need for a level playing field for providers - when so many activities 
and operations were no longer within scope of the current excellent scheme.  

HSE's Letter officially announcing the welcome reversal of the HSE's earlier decision to kill off the AALA scheme.



The need to reassure users and purchasers that a centre is safe and reputable 
and well managed was at the very core of the all the work Iain and many other
local Derbyshire centre managers did all those years ago when Iain sat on the 
English Tourist Board's Task Force designed to provide quality & safety assurance
for customers.  This U-turn by the government and their agency is long overdue
but we are grateful that the AALA scheme hasn't just been abandoned as a politically
motivated whim to deregulate small businesses.  We were very fearful that a lot of
cowboys were returning into our industry and would ruin things for us again if the 
regulations were relaxed.  It was a stupid idea to just say the government would 
abandon the AALA scheme backl ion the Summer of last year... and we're grateful 
that at least some MP's listened to our requests that we shopuld be consulted before 
the baby was chucked out with the bath water !     Customers should feel pleased that
we still have a fairly robust and fair and easy to understand QA scheme in place for
activities for under 18's.   Of course, some of us always argued that the over 18's activities
should also be included in the scheme too...but let's be grateful for what we've got and 
hope things may imporve in the future.

 cartoon - copyright Mr Jim Watson. Reproduced by permission.
Cartoon by kind permission of Mr Jim Watson
 
     Assuring Rock Lea's Outdoor Centre's outdoor
      activities are safe, welcoming & reliable...
 
We have always striven to be fully qualified, fully accredited and professionally 
approved providers.  We have an AALA Licence, we are accredited with NATO,
are for many years we have been accredited  members of numerous national 
governing bodies for sports, professional bodies and institutions, including 
the Chartered Institute of Personnel and the RGS, our regional Tourist Board,
and serving members of TQM committee for our National Tourist Board.

 AALA
Peak Activities Ltd's current 3-year AALA Licence Number is L6657/R0671
Our previous three-year AALA licence was revalidated in March 2010 and
our current licence expires on 17th July, 2013.   We have held licenses with
AALA every year since the scheme started and have been inspected and 
passed without any problems both at random and routinely by AALA 
inspectors on numerous visits when they have been out with groups caving,
potholing, abseiling, climbing, mountain biking, orienteering, etc. with groups
led by our staff.

In compliance with The Activity Centres ( Young Persons' Safety ) Act 1995 and the 
revised Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004,  Rock Lea Activity Centre 
is Registered with HM Government's Adventure Activities Licensing Service ( Cardiff ) 
and is licensed by the HSE's Adventure Activities Licensing Authority ( AALA) to provide 
specified activities under the following headings which are in scope of the regulations : -

Abseiling, Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Caving & Potholing, Orienteering,  
Mine Exploration, Mountain Biking / Off-road Cycling,  Gorge Scrambling,  
Mountaineering and Hill Walking Ice  Climbing & Sea Level traversing.  

The AALA Licensing Authority ( AALA ) also recognises that there
are other outdoor activities offered by Peak Activities Ltd.  which
are not included in the scope of the AALS Adventure Regulations 
2004.    It is also recognised that some of the activities we offfer 
are sub-contracted by us to other AALS approved and licensed 
providers ... ( such as our RYA and BCU approved sailing and 
canoeing centre ) who have their own AALA Licenses.

To confirm the validity of our centre's current  3 year AALA / AALS 
License please e-mail the AALS at info@aals.org.uk   or see the AALS 
website at www.aals.org.uk  The address of the AALS is also given 
below should you wish to write to them.


MOD / NCAGE Accreditation : 

Our NATO Supply Chain Support Provider Services 
Preferred Supplier Reference Number is U4F57.

We supply various UK and overseas military organisations.





Our centre is an Organisation Member of 
the UK's Institute for Outdoor Learning ( IOL ).  
Membership number = 5662.  The IOL undertakes 
to uphold the code of professional conduct, 
diversity, environmental and other policies of 
the Institute for Outdoor Learning.  For more
information please see www.outdoor-learning.org



Insurance Cover  for all Peak Activities Ltd's activities.

Comment on the demise of AALA and AALS :
Peak Activities Ltd. was very actively involved in the establishment of the 
AALA scheme - Iain Jennings was  aleading member of the English Tourist 
Board's ACAC - Activity Centres Advisory Committee and  Member of the 
ACAC Task Force.  He wrote the terms of reference for ACAC which laid the
way for the setting up of the AALA.  Iain also was the author of many of the
templates of the skills and qualifications domains used to define the 
competencies of staff who should be allowed to work as instructors in many
different sports coaching young people.  We were a staunch supporter of the
replacement of the discredited BAHA scheme with a statutory licensing authority 
with an excellent team of professional inspectors at its disposal.  Iain was one of 
the very first AALA License holders in England.  

We hoped the AALA scheme which we worked so hard to help set up in the 1990's
 would eventually be extended to include making sure adults were safe as well as
unaccompanied youngsters and school group members, but very sadly the 
HSE has recently announced that this excellent scheme is being phased out. 
The editor cannot see why on earth anybody felt such a low cost and well
respected scheme should ever be phased out.  It remains to be seen what , if 
anything, will replace it.  Sadly one expects that if there is another tragedy like
the Lyme Bay disaster the government will knee jerk a repost and set up another
scheme like the one they are taking away.  One wonders how little money is being
saved by disbanding the AALA scheme.  Was it not every thus ?  I always feel
that if something is working well why mess about tinkering with it ?

BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE BASE INFORMATION FOR RESEARCHERS & STUDENTS.... The following information is for students who may be writing essays on AALA. Please be kind and give us credit for anything you "lift" from here ! HSE took over the responsibilty for the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority ( AALA) on April 1st, 2007 and now has enforcement resposibilty for the Activity Centres ( Young Persons' Safety ) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004. All the inspection and most of the administration work of the AALA carried out previously hase been taken over by Tourism Services Ltd.) under contract. TQS will be operating under the name Adventure Activities Licensing Service ( AALS ). Telephone Cardiff 029-2075-5715. Web site : www.aals.org.uk The address of the AALS is :- 44, Lambourne Crescent, Cardiff Business Park, Llanishen, Cardiff, CF14 5GG.
.......
Adventure Licensing Service, Llanishen Cardiff, Phone 029-2075-5715 www.aals.org.uk


HSE took over the responsibilty for the Adventure Activities
Licensing Authority ( AALA) on April 1st,  2007 and now has
enforcement resposibilty for the Activity Centres ( Young 
Persons' Safety ) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activities 
Licensing Regulations 2004.  All the inspection and most of
the administration work of the AALA carried out previously
hase been taken over by Toursim Services Ltd.) under contract. 
TQS will be operating under the name  Adventure Activities 
Licensing Service ( AALS ).  Telephone Cardiff 029-2075-5715.
Web site : www.aals.org.uk   The address of the AALS is :-
44, Lambourne Crescent, Cardiff Business Park, Llanishen,
Cardiff, CF14 5GG.



FURTHER READING : 

"Guidance to the Licensing Authority on the Adventuire Activity Licensing 
Regulations 2004" was revised July 2007 and is available from HSE Books. 
See http://www.hes.gov.uk/pubns/books/177.htm  

Knowledge Base Articles : 

WHY IS SAFETY BENCHMARKING NEEDED IN OUTDOOR EDUCATION  ?


There are, very sadlly, very few barriers to entry into the profession 
of being an outdoor pursuits instructor or training provider.
Not all organisations providing outdoor pursuits and development 
of training personal have the same high safety values ethics or 
standards as you or us.   Not everyone fully appreciates the need for 
a rigorous checking of kit, safety drills, staff training, staff qualifications, 
safe operations procedures, and so on... 

That's why in 1994 and 1995 people from leading companies in 
the outdoor industry formed a task force ( the Activity Centres
Advisory Committee ( ACAC ) at the invitation of the then English 
Tourist Board's Chairman - to help establish codes of conduct 
and best practise and due diligence.

One of our Directors, Dr. Iain Jennings, was a senior member of 
the ACAC's Task Force which was the forerunner of the AALA 
/ AALS scheme described below. Iain was asked to write the terms 
of reference for the ACAC & he also personally authored most of 
the skills and qualifidcations matrixes and templates which were 
adopted by the AALA once the licensing authority franchise was 
set up by Tourism Quality Services with approval of  the Secretary 
of State for Education.

 ..
Peak Activities Ltd is licensed by the AALA following AALS inspection
for a very wide range of outdoor pursuits for under-18's including 
rock-climbing, abseiling, mountain-biking & trekking in remote country, 
orienteering, caving, potholing and mine exploration.  High level walks
and mountaineering andcoasteering, ice climbing, & scrambling, are 
also covered.

Click here to see a complete list of  the outdoor sports we can offer you.

We carry £5 million Public and Third Party Liability Insurance cover & 
Employer Liability Cover.  

Our team is also licensed to take out large numbers of youngsters at 
any time.  As we also have employers liability insurance,  we can field 
large numbers of staff who can take out fairly large groups with excellent 
insurance cover.  Purchasers should be aware of the potential problems
of using low cost providers ( e.g. loose associations of freelancers ) who 
may not have employers liability in place because of the high costs of such 
insurance cover. We are very concerned that not all insurance cover 
offered by outdoor centres offers the same levels of cover. 

Read more.


THE ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES 
LICENSING SERVICE ( AALA )

Peak Activities Ltd's current AALA 3 -year Licence Number 
    is L6657/R0671 which expires 17th July 2013.


Click for more information about the AALA scheme

If you're planning to run a school or college field trip or an adventure 
holiday or a day out for scouts, school children or college students 
aged under 18 years away from their parents or legal guardians, you  
need to be aware of the AALA Licensing Scheme and the work of
AALS'sinspection services.  

See the AALS website at www.aals.org.uk or the Health & Safety 
Executive's web site at www.hes.gov.uk/aala  for more details of 
the scheme...or customers of Peak Activities Ltd can contact us 
for more details.

Scroll down to read the detailed notes for teachers and youth
leaders which are outlined below : -
    
    

    

    
..

Peak Activities Ltd. AALS License : L6657/R0671 
Our previous AALA Licence Number was L2861/R0671.

Licenses can be checked & verified by contacting the 
Adventure Activities Licensing Services in Llannishen
on 029-2075-5715

   
Above : a group of 16 year olds on a week long personal development  
training exercise supervised and designed by BSES mountaineering 
and glaciology tutor Iain Jennings in 1974 as a training experience for 
youngsters Iain was later taking on expedition to glaciers in the Arctic. 

Here in this remote & hostile part of the Cairngorm plateau in winter
the youngsters and their parents and the sponsoring organisation 
all needed to know everyone was well equipped and being looked 
after by safe, experienced, competent and reliable instructors working 
to appropriate high safety standards.

Thirty years later, Peak Activities Ltd continues to supply safe enjoyable 
experiential learning events in the Peak District and elsewhere. This page
provides notes on the AALA government inspection scheme and other
ways and means by which safety is assessed and which are used to help
ensure safety not only for teenagers - but also over 18's using the facilities
offered by Peak Activities Ltd.
  
    THE AALA SAFETY SCHEME
VARIOUS OTHER MEANS to BENCHMARK SAFETY
    staff qualifications, safety audits, endorsements, etc.


    
     


The detailed notes below have been put on the Peak Activities Ltd website        
for the benefit of the many journalists, head teachers, lecturers, youth                 
workers and other purchasers of our services who keep asking us                             
about the AALA safety legislation and training quality standards and safety 
and other quality benchmarking issues affecting outdoor education and 
experiential training programmes for under 18's.  Although there is, sadly, 
still  no current similar legislation on safety for over-18's, anybody worried 
about the safety of groups of over 18's whilst under tuition could benefit 
from reading these notes too. What's good enough for ensuring the safety
of under 18's is surely good enough for grown ups too !
        
    


THE ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES 
LICENSING AUTHORITY ( AALA )


The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority ( the AALA ) was 
sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills & operates 
under the guidance of the Health and Safety Commission and is a 
non-profit making public authority.  Its function is to inspect the safety 
management systems of over 1,000 outdoor pursuits providers and
adventure activities centres and to issue licences for centres in 
England, Wales & Scotland. 

The A.A.L.A. Licensing Scheme provided a level of independent,
government approved safety assurance for under 18's on events 
such as caving and rock & ice climbing or mountain biking in remote 
areas where the under-18's parents and guardians are not present. 
 
The scheme is run by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority 
( AALA ) from offices in Llanishen in Cardiff...under the aegis of the
government's Dept for Education and Skills.   The AALA inspectors
in our experience are very competent & thorough experts who know 
much more about inspecting centres than, say,  advisory teachers or
general HSE inspectors....largely because their inspectorate is drawn
from very experienced senior specialists in their fields - coupled with 
a very stringent and well thought out inspection process.

The AALA scheme is just one of several TQM benchmarking methods 
used by Peak Activities and for several years now it has been a legal 
requirement  for commercial organisations running specified outdoor 
activities in remote areas for under 18's in organised groups to comply
with the requirements of the Activity Centres ( Young People Safety ) 
Act of 1995 and pursuant to the Adventure Activities Licensing 
Regulations 1996.

The AALA Regulations were revised in 2004 following 
The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004
which brought the licensing scheme's team under the
closer aegis of HM Health & Safety Executive and the 
setting up of the Adventure Activities Licensing Service
which took over from the AALA.  Many of the personnel
at the AALS ( including Marcus bailie - the Head of 
Inspection Services ) and many of his team of senior 
inspectors were formerly members of the AALA team.

Why was the AALA scheme set up ?
    
Detailed description of the AALA scheme.    ( see also www.aala.org )

        
    

    

    
...
  
Frequently Asked Question :

AS TEACHERS & YOUTH LEADERS, WILL WE NEED TO BE SUBMERGED 
FOR DAYS UNDER SHEETS OF RISK ASSESSMENTS IF WE WANT TO 
ARRANGE ACTIVITIES OUTDOORS FOR THE UNDER 18's IN OUR CARE ?


One of the big advantages of using a government licensed AALA provider 
like Peak Activities Ltd is that they will have already had all their written 
risk assessments and all their site specific safety precautions and safe 
operating codes ....and their staff qualifications and safety management 
procedures very thoroughly vetted and government inspected in 
meticulous detail by the expert inspectors from AALS...this saves you 
having to do it all !


The AALS inspectors are expert specialists who won't pass staff or
safety management plans which aren't sound.  According to the AALS's
Chief Inspector, Mr Marcus Bailie, this means that where AALS license 
holders are being used to support school visits, the teachers, for example, 
can save much valuable time in not having to re-invent the wheel by doing 
loads of time consuming risk assessments for the sites and activities being
undertaken.  Teachers needing reassurance on this point can refer to copies
of open letters from Marcus stating this point...or check direct with the AALS.
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES LICENSING SERVICE,
44, LAMBOURNE CRESCENT, 
CARDIFF BUSINESS PARK,
LLANISHEN,
CARDIFF,
CF14 5GG.

E-MAIL : info@aals.org.uk
Website : www.aals.org.uk


The existence of a current AALS license for a centre also means that 
other key safety issues such as Public Liability and Third Party Liability 
insurance will have been checked at the last inspectors visit.  However, 
our advice is to check that such insurance is still in place by asking to 
see a copy of the provider's current insurance certification.  Quite a few
places in our industry have been unable to get continued insurance in 
2007...especially for activities such as caving which whilst being safe 
are somehow being deemed as hard to insure by many of the few 
insurance underwriters still insuring outdoor providers. Many freelancers 
who we know in the Peak District, for example, are now struggling to 
maintain the levels of insurance cover they enjoyed until quite recently, 
for example.  This is due to the crisis in liability insurance underwriting 
in the UK which is described on another one of our web pages.

Insurance cover provided by Peak Activities Ltd.

AALS Licenses are issued to providers for specific types of activity 
and often there are stated limits for the sizes of parties any specific 
licence holder can take out at any one time.  For example a small
one-man band with a licence may not be able to take out as many
people at once legally as a more organised centre with a team of staff 
that's been vetted and approved by the AALS inspectorate.

Peak Activities Ltd is licensed by the AALS for a wide range 
of outdoor pursuits for under-18's including rock-climbing, abseiling, 
mountain-biking & trekking in remote country, orienteering, caving, 
potholing and mine exploration.  Our team is also licensed to take 
out fairly large numbers of youngsters at any time.

Our close associates and sub-contractors are also licensed to
provide a wide range of watersports including canoeing and
sailing and windsurfing. These activities are available to schools
and youth groups if they are also booking our other services during  
events of 3 or more days duration.

  

. .. ..


Top tip : IF IN ANY DOUBT ALWAYS TRY TO GET INDEPENDENT ADVICE !


If you're a teacher or scout troop leader and you're
concerned to get everything right - if in any doubt 
please contact your organisation's health & safety 
advisory staff - or your individual school's or organisation's 
nominated School Visit Co-Ordinator or outdoor advisor. 

If you are unclear about just what you're expected to know
or do prior to arranging a field trip or event involving under 
18's it's always best to check with your advisory colleagues. 
We are always happy to help out our clients in every possible
way - so if you're unclear about what to do regarding parental
consent forms, etc. just speak with us if you are one of our
clients ( sadly we don't have enough staff or time to offer to
help people who are not our customers ).


WHAT IF MY UNION REP OR HEALTH & SAFETY 
ADVISOR SAYS OUTDOOR PURSUITS ARE DANGEROUS 
& FAR TOO RISKY TO ALLOW ME TO BOOK THEM ?

Nonesense !  Compared per hour of traveling on a
road or motorway all outdoor pursuits are much safer !
That's a proven fact.

Moreover, the Government's Chief Inspector of Schools 
recently published an official report suggesting that outdoor 
experiential learning for young people is safe and should be
encouraged and funded because offsite residentials and 
education away from school produces very positive, lasting 
benefits for all involved.

We would therefore take issue with any union reps. who 
may tell you it's not worth it to take youngsters out into the 
countryside any more.  We believe outdoor learning 
can still be fun and is safe and is demonstrably a very 
sound investment of teacher's or youth workers' time. 

In spite of a few highly publicised accidents where staff 
from schools "going it alone " were obviously criminally 
negligent - organising a safe event is not difficult and it is 
not a risk to a teacher's or youth workers' career as some
 have argued who don't always know what they are talking 
about ! ...especially if you put your trust in suppliers who
are experienced, licensed and working to high standards.
Granted, the world is much more litigious than, say, it was 
twenty years ago, so our suggestion is that you trust a 
reliable, tried and proven provider if you are buying for the 
first time.  You'll find the best centres are not the cheapest,
by the way.  Taking due diligence and best practise into
account involves time and effort, so it is logical that the 
cheapest providers may not necessarily be the best...as in
many other walks of life.
 

PROBLEMS IN THE PAST - WHY WAS THE AALA SCHEME SET UP ?

With well over 3,000 outdoor activities & corporate events providers operating
in the UK 's Great Outdoors  picking out a reliable and safe outdoor training 
providers in the past was a rather hit-and-miss & very time-consuming affair 
for first-time buyers.  Even today it can be quite daunting...and rare recent tragedies
involving school trips led by unqualified and inexperienced school teachers have 
highlighted the fact that the lessons of the Lyme Bay disaster may not have been
fully learned by many group organisers.  There is still a need for people to make 
sure that not only are risks properly assessed and steps taken to minimise hazards
...but also for such risk assessments to be constantly updated and for well-trained, 
safety conscious, expert staff to be involved in the day to day management and 
delivery of safe activities for customers.  The safety chain in any organisation is
only as strong as its weakest link - and just "hoping" things will go well and safely
is, sadly, and simply not good enough.


Whilst many centres in previous decades were safe & enjoyable & 
offered very good value, some in the past were otherwise - with poorly 
trained, unqualified young staff and haphazard safety management. 
It was also very difficult to compare like-with-like in terms of staffing 
ratios, staff experience & qualifications, service level agreements, 
safety levels, added-value, reliability, insurance cover, etc.

 





IN SAFE & RELIABLE HANDS....

Peak Activities Ltd's MD Iain Jennings was widely acknowledged by
senior managers of the ETB and regional tourism boards as one of the 
driving forces behind the inception of government legislation in 1995 
& 1996. Iain served on the English Tourist Board's Activity Centres
Safety Advisory Committee and the ACAC Task Force and was the
official representative of the various regional associations of residential 
education on those committees.  We are pleased that this work laid the
foundations for the setting up of quality assurance standards for the
industry and we welcomed the setting up of the AALA licensing
system which began in 1997 pursuant to the Activity Centres
 (Young Persons Safety) Act 1995 and the Adventure Activity 
Licensing Regulations 1996.

Our centre was initially inspected by AALA in July 1997 and was 
issued with a two year AALA license. We were routinely re-inspected 
again in May 1999 and re-awarded another two year license. Another 
AALA inspection was made again in 2001 and another two year licence
issued once more. Our current license was issued on 17th July 2004 
and this means we are licensed now until July 2006.

 


The position for some purchasers is, thankfully, changed with the advent of new legal safety requirements for activities for under-18's and sports governing body codes of conduct being adopted nationally. However, there are many other ways of benchmarking safety. Some notes are outlined below. Outdoor & Training Centres can nowadays be benchmarked on a number of criteria, including, for example : - 1) Safety Culture & Safety Track Record 2) Customer Care Track Record 3) Relevence & Benefits 4) Effectiveness of their events. The effectiveness of a provider may largely stem from the wisdom arising from the build up of their knowledge & experience...and whether or not the clients & delegates take on board their suggestions and go on to make significant progress and implement good ideas. This may also involve detailed post event benchmarking with purchasers, grant aid-providers, and the delegates themselves. In our case we undertake our own benchmarking and our chartered institute also independly monitors and evaluates the success of the projects we undertake with many of our blue chip customers. 5) Reliability 6) Costs are other key performance factors to bear in mind.
 
Customers' unsolicited endorsements recommendations and repeat business
patterns are useful independent performance indicators too.
Below are some more detailed notes on each of these six indicators....
 

(1) Ways and means of benchmarking safety
 
Where published and open to inspection the track records and
histories of established centres can speak for themselves...
We have not had any serious injury or liability claims made against our company's 
liability insurance since we started operations in 1981 and our accident & near 
misses book (always open to inspection to visitors & guests) is an exceptionally 
enlightening document. Sadly, not all centres have an "open book" policy on safety 
incident reporting, so this benchmark is not always one which can be applied across
the board when comparing different providers.

Group organisers are wise to check that adequate insurance is provided by any 
professional provider. Not all insurance cover offered by outdoor centres is the same.
Anyone requiring a copy of our £5 million Public & Third Party Liability cover 
and our Employee Liability Cover should phone us on 01433-650345 or e-mail 
us.    We also suggest that clients consider taking out Travel Insurance as an 
additional optional extra...and  special insurance may be taken out for firms 
wishing to guard against any potential problems caused by long-term absence 
from work arising from any mishaps when, say, hiking or rambling. 

 
"Discerning clients don't keep coming back if they feel you're
a threat to the emotional and physical safety of their people."
 
"Ooops ! "
 
.....CClick to see some of our customers kind unsolicited comments, thanks & endorsements.
    
        

      

    

    


ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES LICENSING AUTHORITY

Unfortunately, other outdoor providers (e.g. some military units, 
many charities & all providers offering events for over 18's) are 
still not specifically regulated. However, most are covered by 
broad spectrum legislation such as the Health & Safety at Work Act.
 
The AALA's regulations are now administered by the
government's licensing authority. Currently this run by
an organisation called AALS ( TQS ) based in Cardiff which
is
designated by the Secretary of State for Education as the
government's official guardian of the AALR's. The current
legislation designed to guarantee minimum safety standards
are set in the staffing and management of outdoor activities
for youngsters.
The AALA undertakes both regular and random checks 
on the safety management systems at centres. Essentially 
the AALA inspectors are interested in finding out if the 
safety management procedures are sensible and as safe 
as they should be - and then the AALA's experienced and 
highly qualified  inspectors check if the rules are being 
followed by all the staff on a day to day, week-to-week basis. 

In the Peak District such random checks even includes 
AALA inspectors unexpectedly introducing themselves to 
groups up on the crags or popping up out of the dark deep 
down inside caves and checking who's leading the party, 
what qualifications they have, etc. It's a welcome 
development and the AALA inspectors have established
a lot of street cred. amongst those of us who have been
around a while and know what's required. What shame they
only patrol and protect the youngster's end of the spectrum !

Peak Activities Ltd was most recently inspected by AALS 
in July 2007 and we were issued a three year AALA
license which runs until July 2010.  Previously we were 
inspected in 1997, 1999 and 2001 when each time we
 were granted two year AALA licenses.
We are licensed by the AALA for a wide range of outdoor pursuits for 
under-18's including rock-climbing, abseiling, mountain-biking & trekking 
in remote country, orienteering, caving, potholing and mine exploration.

Our watersports sub-contractor and other associates and freelance colleagues also hold separate AALA licences too. Copies of our/their licences & our insurance arrangements are available to bone fide group organisers on request.
Safety qualifications of staff.... Today there is a great emphasis to stress that staff have sports coaching qualifications. This is a good thing but sometimes can blind people purchasing staff development training courses who should consider other qualifications in addition to these when choosing a suitable Outdoor Management Development training provider. Until quite recently it was hard for non-specialists purchasing outdoor training to cross-check the suitability of tutors provided by outdoor training facilitators. There was a plethora of different schemes at local level and national level...and some activities didn't have awards for leaders at all. Moreover, much to their disgrace, staff at some centres claimed they had qualifications for activities such as climbing and caving which closer inspection might have revealed were not what they seemed to be. No national inspection schemes were widely in force that had any enforcement powers or teeth...so things were a bit of a lottery. For people selecting outdoor providers in the UK today for young people, your choice isn't quite such a lottery as it used to be...thanks to the introduction of the ETB's National Code of Practice and the national inspection scheme which has now been established by the "Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations, 1996" These AALRs govern the provision of many adventurous activities by commercial providers to persons under the age of 18 not accompanied by their parents/legal guardians. However this is not the end of the story by any means. The National Governing Body awards that many centre's staff now have (e.g. SPA awards for climbing, RYA for sailing ) to comply with AALA requirements and NGB guidelines are only a partial indication of safety and relevance for adults training courses. Awards for sports training (such as sailing or caving) instruction are often cited in literature from centres like ours but often little or no mention is made of any formal training, coaching, lecturing, teaching or industrial experience in the "training" sense. If you just want s stag weekend with lots of fun and action, then you may be only need to check that the staff supervising your group are NGB (National Governing Body of Sports) qualified for each activity involved. The situation for TRAINING PARTIES from commerce and industry may, however, be quite different...... Purchasers of serious training might need to consider the need to check that the training team working on their serious training programme has both formal sports (NGB) coaching instructions awards & qualifications as well as formal training coaching awards. There are still many outdoor sports centres running management training courses and team building events with staff who do not have nationally approved and recognised TRAINERS' qualifications. These might include qualifications validated by the DFE, the Institute of Management, the Institute of Personnel & Development, the MCI, and so on.
To some extent the credibility of those centres trying to run professional training courses may be prejudiced severely by other centres operating with staff who are sports-centred rather than training or learning-centred.
Peak Activities employs three kinds of tutor... 1) There are those who are skilled and qualified in both training per se. and the sports which they use as vehicles for learning (e.g. someone who is an IPD Member and who is MIA qualified who can also rig ropes and supervise abseiling-based problem solving tasks as well as running good reviews afterwards. These are usually employed as senior tutors and course designers and course directors. 2) Support staff who are technically qualified in sports - who act as safety supervisors. These include some of our full time associates and ad hoc freelance staff who work as support technicians, drivers, etc. We are very careful about which freelance staff we employ for training contracts ...usually only people with a well known, trustworthy track record. 3) We also employ tutors who are highly skilled trainers but who may not posses the NGB awards which the other two categories of staff may hold. These colleagues work side-by-side with our technicians and training consultants. These people may be former or serving training managers from other organisations on secondment or working part time for us. Many too are fully experienced and qualified teachers and lecturers, registered with the Dept for Education and Employment. Often these colleagues are undergoing "shadowing" as part ofn their period of log book experience between successfully completing National Governing Body induction courses and final assessment as fully qualified instructors in the fields of caving, climbing, mountaineering, and so on.
In our opinion, having such a community of mature, experienced specialists 
is healthy and gives us an edge over centres which may only employ young
technicians with just NGB qualifications. However, our wages bill is considerably
greater, so we are not as inexpensive as some other centres.


(2) SERVICE LEVELS... Whilst minimum safety standards have now been put in place by AALA, it would be very unwise to assume that providers' service levels are all now the same. Service levels and quality of tuition still varies enormously from one provider to another...and this is to some extent reflected in fee variations and service level agreements, where they exist. The nature and duality of staffing has already been discussed above. However, staffing levels for example can vary from 1:4 to 1:12 for the same activity at different centres using exactly the same activity locations. This makes pricing comparisons quite tricky, but also has an implication for safety and the enjoyment and likely success of your activity ! Personal attention and close tuition is so much easier to guarantee with the tight staffing ratios we adopt here at Rock Lea. There are now many solo freelance operators who work alone from the back of cars and who do not own any premises or provide facilities for changing, showering, safe-keeping of valuables, loan of personal protective clothing, secure parking of clients cars, ppe issue, etc. Their costs will, of course, be much lower than ours. However, coping with changing clients' plans, increased delegate numbers, bad weather and so on may be more difficult for operators who do not have the fall-back of having a team of multi-skilled, multi-qualified staff and a centre full of kit and teaching resources immediately to hand. The level of insurance cover offered by some providers is often very much lower than some clients might assume. Many centres and individual freelancers still employ very junior, comparatively inexperienced and poorly paid staff who may be inappropriate for facilitating serious management training or sensitive staff development programmes. It may therefore important for clients to check & establish service levels, staffing experience, facilities, levels of confidentiality etc. prior to booking. Who exactly will be doing the instructing ? What sort of background experience, qualifications and insight can they offer ? This need to check may be just as true for adult groups (not regulated by the AALA) as it is for youngsters groups.
A  visitor to Rock Lea recently reported to us that he'd discovered
all the tutors on an outdoor team development course he had been 
on were getting paid less than a hundred pounds per week plus living in. 
Needless to say, perhaps, the delegates were disappointed the quality 
of the tuition and the course content wasn't quite as high as they'd hoped for. 
None of the delegates were too happy with the person who'd supposed 
to have checked out the course before booking it.


(3) Benchmarking customer care & client satisfaction...

Customer care and total quality starts at the point of enquiry & 
continues (hopefully) to help generate repeat business, endorsements, 
independent, impartial television features, favourable  press reviews, 
personal customer recommendations & a sense of working in partnership 
with one's clients. If history is the dialectic between the past and the future,
you can make informed predictions through judicious examination of 
providers' track records and the robustness of their reputations.

As long standing commercial members of the Heart of England 
Tourist Board, Peak Activities Limited worked to the highest possible 
standards of customer care laid down by the English Tourist Board 
& our Regional Tourist Board...and to the high standards we've set 
ourselves.

Rock Lea has developed close working links with many members of 
the regional tourist board & the English Tourist Board.  We comply 
fully with the ETB's ACAC Code of Conduct for the safe running 
of outdoor education centres & service providers. This a document 
which Dr Iain Jennings, our centre director, co-authored as a leading 
member of the English Tourist Board's Activity Centre Advisory 
Committee & ACAC Task Force.
You'll see from our clients list & endorsements that 
the English Tourist Board, the British Tourist Authority
and the erstwhile East Midlands Tourist Board, 
and our local authority The Derbyshire Dales District 
Council, have all used our professional planning services 
for their own corporate entertainment, overseas press visits 
& staff training events many times in recent years....which 
is hopefully a reassuring index towards the quality of our
reliability & customer care for discerning clients.

Insofar as possible we seek to exceed expectations and 
excel in customer care, staffing levels and safety.

Our service has often been copied but is rarely surpassed 
by our competitors...largely thanks to the dedication and
totally professional approach of our excellent team of staff
and the help, ideas and support we get from many of our clients.

 

(4) REGULAR PROFESSIONAL BENCHMARKING 
FOR TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT PROFESSIONALS...
We also run such follow-up evaluation sessions with all our other 
clients to help gain feedback to gauge and improve our quality 
and maintain our "performance performance". This helps us 
continuously improve our events.
   
Our training team includes Chartered Members and 
Chartered Fellows of the CIPD...the UK's Chartered Institute 
for HRD Professionals, which requires its members to work 
to strict codes of ethics & professional conduct. 


The IPD was formed when two earlier existing institutes combined. 
The former UK Institute of Training and Development joined
forces with the former UK Institute of Personnel Management.
It is now the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

The CIPD is now internationally recognised as the UK's leading 
institute for HR consultancy, staff training & development.

Training Director, Iain Jennings' long standing membership of 
the CIPD's prestigious Register of Chartered Consultants is 
dependent upon a strict process of annual benchmarking 
amongst samples of our clients for that year by the CIPD. 
In an age when so many people between jobs can so easily
call themselves "consultants", it is reassuring that we have been
annually vetted and verified by the worlds leading personnel 
development and training institute.

At the end of the day the best benchmark is whether customers 
want to use your services again and whether they'll suggest their
friends use you. That's why we've taken time on this website to
put in a few of the many unsolicited customers endorsements we
get each each year. There are dozens of these on file here, which
are freely open to inspection.


RANDOM SAFETY BENCHMARK INSPECTIONS


As mentioned above, because we offer activities
for under-18's, Rock Lea is inspected & licensed by 
AALA (the UK government's Adventure Activities 
Licensing Authority). Random spot checks from their 
inspectors and periodical scheduled checks suggest 
our safety systems, management & operating procedures
for young persons are quite satisfactory. Since we adopt 
exactly the same systems for working with over 18's this 
should reassure groups of over 18's too !

Prior to 1996 all we had was voluntary schemes such as
the British Activity Holidays Association's inspection system.
We were Founder Members of the BAHA and we had first hand
experience of being approved as a centre by the BAHA scheme.
This offered quasi-independent inspections by nonetheless competent
inspectors for its own members only. Obviously any "cowboys" who
were not members would not be inspected, so there was no uniformity
across the country to aid prospective purchasers. Moreover, the Lyme
Regis disaster investigation highlighted the lack of "street cred" of a
self-regulatory system run by the members for the members of a self-
selected trade association. The local centre's DARE inspection scheme 
which we were pleased to be involved with had the same sort of problems 
too. Self-regulation could be too easily accused of nepotism to be credible
and it also lacked the guts to take tough decisions against miscreants.

Much of the common sense concepts found earlier in the BAHA scheme
is still be found in the AALA operation - but the AALA now has teeth
and has a healthy independence, so there is scope to revoke or modify
operators licenses.

In the writer's opinion, the statutory AALA scheme was long overdue & we 
look forward to possibly seeing the scope of the legislation being extended 
sometime to include more activities and to include activities for over 18's too. 

We care a lot about all our customers. Like many other outdoor education 
professionals, we feel the legislation needs to encompass provision for 
over-18's and all youngsters' charity groups too in due course. 

In March 1998 the AALA published a 50 page text entitled "Self Assessment and 
Guidance for Providers of Outdoor Activities". This was developed from the 
British Quality Foundation model and incorporated the collective experience of the 
AALA inspectorate. This booklet is now available to and offers detailed guidance 
to all providers (and customers) and the sentiments apply to all activities - not just 
those within scope of the current legislation.

According to Marcus Bailie (Head of Inspection Services at the AALA) the experience 
gained by the AALA is now being used to improve safety for both young persons not 
covered by the regulations and those of all ages partaking in non-scheduled outdoor 
activities. Many readers will be aware that at present activities ( such as the driving of 
"jet bikes" with unqualified staff ) are not within scope - but many in the industry feel a 
driver training and coaching qualification needs to be mandatory. As this one of many 
examples demonstrates, there is still much room for improvement, but at least we 
have made a good start and are now in a position where purchasers can feel reassured 
they are buying from license holders who have been checked by independent safety 
assessors.

Senior staff from the English Tourist Board, the British Tourist Authority and the 
East Midlands Tourist Board (our former regional tourist board) have frequently 
employed Peak Activities Ltd's resources & facilities for tailoring their own corporate 
team building events for their staff and for visiting overseas & UK VIP's. 
It's comforting to know that our centre is often the tourism professional's first 
choice when they're wanting to introduce their own personnel and press & 
travel feature writers to safe, well-managed outdoor activities in the Peak Park.
     
The ETB & EMTB have also consulted our senior colleagues
as advisors when setting up national outdoor centre policies
& guidelines. Peak Activities Ltd is pleased to have developed
such trust with these organisations over the last decade.

Rock Lea was a long-serving active member of
the Derbyshire Association of Residential Education
throughout the past 20+ years until D.A.R.E. was 
disbanded in early 2007. 





Iain Jennings is a former D.A.R.E.  Hon. Secretary and  
represented D.A.R.E. and other Associations of Residential 
Providers at the highest national and government  level,
including providing evidence for the House of Commons
Education Select Committee.


As a member of DARE Peak Activities Ltd was a signatory 
to the  Peak Charter ....a code set up for the responsible & 
sensitive use of the Peak District National Park's environment 
by outdoor training groups. We urge all users of the Peak Park 
to consider adopting this charter. 

Other conservation codes we endorse include the BMC's recently 
published  "Groups Guide" to behaviour & ethics on local crags.


Go to MAIN INDEX A-Z ALPHABETICAL INDEX List of some of our corporate clients Click for notes on our staff....our quality shapers Case studies - events run for quality-conscious firms such as Lucas, Bosch, & Rolls Royce Television & media coverage
Youngsters & teachers groups...
 
Tel. 01433-650345

 

......

 

Copyright : Dr. Iain Jennings 2002-2011.

Unauthorised publication elsewhere of any extract of this website is prohibited

We have recently successfully sued someone for pinching
sections of this website and adding them to theirs !