Let’s start with the phrase we all know is bound to appear in this blog: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?” from the Roman poet Juvenal, which means: “Who will guard the guards themselves?”
A democratic society, such as that in which Juvenal lived in approximately 55-127AD, should have a system of checks and balances. In 21st century Britain almost every area has an organisation that purports to maintain the standards of its practitioners, and this is definitely a good thing. It ensures people working in that industry are maintaining standards of best practise, following guidelines that are (or ought to be) regularly updated and operating within safe parameters so that their clients or customers can be assured that they are not going to be ripped off or taken for a ride.
In the childcare industry there are many organisations that offer accreditation to companies providing training courses; they will ensure that the courses have content that is supported by current research, that the teachers themselves are properly qualified and trained, and they will even provide certificates so that the attendees can be confident that their new-found knowledge is of the highest standard.
All of this comes at a cost, of course, and to gain accreditation is expensive. Most of the recognised accreditation agencies require annual subscriptions in addition to a payment per course. They will send out a representative to attend your course once a year, and this person has to be paid too.
So what do you do if you are a new agency, trying to fill a hole in the market by providing continual professional development in niche areas that are not covered by these agencies?
At Born To Parent we rely on our reputation and word of mouth. We have been teaching training courses for different organisations for nearly 20 years before we decided to do it for ourselves and set up our own company. We wanted to offer short courses to busy professionals working with babies and children; there are so many areas where research is ongoing so that parameters change and parents are confused by articles contradicting each other on a weekly basis.
Our courses are based on rigorous, up-to-date research thanks to Emily, who doesn’t let me write a single word without wanting to know where it came from and who has endorsed it – “Who says?” rings out across the office whenever we are writing a new course.
The courses are written in response to requests from the professionals themselves, who know where the gaps in their own knowledge occur, but who don’t have the time to sift through the alternative opinions and the mass of information online and elsewhere in order to be able to support the parents who rely on them for guidance.
And they are delivered in a friendly environment where the focus is on drawing out what the students already know and building on it, on teaching them in an interactive (and therefore more memorable) way. This again is thanks to Emily whose Montessori training and ethos permeate all our courses. And her dyslexia, which leads her to frown when she reads the handout I’m writing. At which point I know I’ve written too much and need to illustrate more!
So if a course isn’t accredited, how can you tell how good it is? How can you judge that your money is being well spent and that you will get the quality of training that is promised?
Ultimately it comes down to a question of trust and gut instinct on the side of the purchaser, and integrity and reputation on the side of the seller. And in childcare, it’s not the accreditation that is the most important thing, it is using the knowledge you’ve gained, feeling more confident than before, and developing as a person and a professional.
And for Emily and me, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – Emily, like Mr Kipling, makes exceedingly good cakes, but I’m sure that’s not the only reason people keep coming back to our courses!