Bacon butties and boats for VICTA

Last Friday we held a sponsored breakfast butty day (not that we need much encouragement!) to raise money for our team who will be taking to the high seas this June with VICTA.

Thank you to all our staff who put their hands in their pockets to raise over £180 to help visually impaired children!

We’d also like to give a shout out to everyone who made the day happen, so thank you to (*deep breath*)….

Carolyn at ASDA and Jane at Morrisons for contributing food for the day and raffle prizes,

Rachael and Ellie for making 90 sandwiches,

Mike for letting Rachael and Ellie take over his beloved kitchen,

Barbara for taking over delivery duties for the day,

And the directors for supporting our ideas!

Five intrepid Highfield team members will be taking to the high seas this summer in support of our chosen charity VICTA.

VICTA are sending five registered blind/visually impaired (VI) young adults to crew a tall ship for a week. As each crew member will require a volunteer to work with them on the voyage, we are sending five hardy Highfield sailors to join them.

The team will be departing from Oban in Scotland on 17 June 2019, and the ship will spend a week at sea before returning on 23 June 2019.

The voyage will be run and managed by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), who are the operators of the only two fully accessible tall ships in the world – the STS Lord Nelson and the SV Tenacious.

The team will fully contribute to the running of the ship under the watchful eye of the experienced crew. They will be helming, going aloft, setting sails, cooking, cleaning and even climbing the 30-metre mast!

We really appreciate all your support and thank you for any donations.

If you’d like to make a donation yourself or support our team, please go to 

How to…with Highfield: Professional discussions

What should you expect from a professional discussion? A guide for employer representatives
Professional discussions are two-way, structured conversations between an assessor (or a panel of assessors) and an apprentice. They are designed to test an apprentice’s in-depth understanding of their work, and forms a key part of the end-point assessment of many apprenticeship standards.

Employer representatives are allowed to attend the professional discussion, dependent on the apprenticeship standard.  

What can you do as an employer representative?
As an employer representative attending a professional discussion, there are a few things you are allowed to do. These include:

Supporting and backing up what the apprentice is saying, and confirming if the required examples provided are a true reflection of the apprentice’s performance in their job role

Providing guidance to the assessor in terms of policy and practice when requested by the assessor, or assisting in contextualising the discussion if required. For example, if the assessor asks about ‘individual action plans’ but your organisation calls them ‘personal development plans’.

Giving information or clarification as requested by the assessor, or prompting the apprentice in relation to remembering particular events or occurrences that are relevant to the discussion. For instance, you can say, ‘Can you remember what happened last Tuesday when you were at XXXXXXX?’

Providing any other input as requested by the assessor.

What you can’t do
There are a few things you can’t do however. These include:

  • taking on the role of the assessor by leading the discussion
  • answering a question on behalf of the apprentice
  • directly leading the apprentice by relating a prompt to a particular area of the standard that is being assessed.

Employers are advised only to provide input when required by the assessor – most professional discussions are time restricted, so the assessment will focus solely on the apprentice and not on the employer’s input.

For more information and guidance on end-point assessment, and the support Highfield can offer, go to

World Environmental Health Day

World Environmental Health DayToday is World Environmental Health Day, an annual event launched by the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) to share knowledge and promote cooperation between countries where environmental health is a known issue.

The IFEH has announced the theme for this year’s World Environmental Health Day is ‘Global Food Safety and Sustainability’ and has pledged to support the provision of more safe food globally as well as supporting communities to value sustainable food production, precious water and nutrient resources.

According to an article published by the World Health Organization on 31 October 2017, an estimated 600 million people, that’s almost 1 in 10 people worldwide, fall ill after eating contaminated food and approximately 420,000 people die every year.

Major outbreaks of foodborne disease have occurred on every continent in the past decade, often amplified by globalized trade. Consumer demand for a wider variety of food has resulted in an increasingly complex global food chain, and as the world’s population continues to grow so too do the challenges for food safety. These challenges put greater responsibility on food producers and handlers to ensure food safety.

In the spirit of spreading awareness and knowledge this World Environmental Health Day, here’s our top ten tips for ensuring safe food preparation:

1. Buy your food and ingredients from a reputable business, check that it’s in date, in good condition and that the packaging is undamaged.

2. Always follow the manufacturer’s storage and cooking instructions on the label. Use a clean, digital, tip-sensitive thermometer to check food is cooked to 75°C in the coldest part and cool food quickly after cooking if it is not for immediate consumption.

3. The temperature ‘risk zone’ where food poisoning bacteria can multiply quickly is between 20°C and 50°C so always keep perishable, ready-to-eat food, raw meat, fish, shellfish, cut fruits and salads out of this zone. Keep refrigerator temperatures at or below 5°C and freezer temperatures at around -18°C.

4. Always keep ready-to-eat food separate from raw food, especially raw meat, fish, shellfish and unwashed vegetables.

5. Thaw raw poultry in a cool place in accordance with the label’s instructions and never wash raw poultry. It may be better to leave it covered overnight in the kitchen rather than thawing it in the refrigerator to avoid contamination and ensure it is completely thawed.

6. Wash your hands before handling food, after handling raw food and then before handling ready-to-eat food. Keep a clean towel or role of disposable paper towels to wipe your hands. Do not use tea towels used for drying clean pots and utensils.

7. Always keep pets and other animals out of the kitchen and especially off preparation surfaces.

8. After you’ve cleaned food-contact and hand-contact surfaces with hot water and a detergent use a food grade disinfectant to kill bacteria.

9. Ensure your dishwasher is well maintained so that pots and utensils are cleaned thoroughly. If you don’t have the luxury of a dishwasher, fill a sink with water that is too hot for your hands unless washing up gloves are worn. Be sure to change the water before it becomes cold or dirty and replace cloths or sponges frequently. Tea towels used for drying up should be laundered on a hot wash and changed frequently, or alternatively, why not use disposable paper towels?

10. Finally, never prepare food for anyone else if you are ill, especially if you have diarrhoea, vomiting or are continually sneezing due to a cold.

If everyone followed these ten simple steps we could dramatically decrease the number of foodborne disease outbreaks worldwide, allowing global efforts to focus on establishing much needed clean water resources and sustainable food production.

It is also vitally important that people working in the food or hospitality industries report any instances of poor practice relating to safe food to a manager or person in charge so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent the spread of foodborne diseases. Food and hospitality employers have a responsibility to make their staff aware of these dangers and highlight the importance of communication.

For more information on our full range of food safety training products, go to

To find out more about the IFEH and what others are doing around the globe this World Environmental Health Day, go to

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,

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

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!

Savers announced as Top Employer for Retail

HABC approved centre Savers was announced as one of the UK’s top 100 employers for school and college leavers at the fourth annual awards ceremony, held at London City Hall on Friday 27th May 2016.


The awards ceremony celebrated all aspects of learning and development, including career progression, training and skills, as decided by feedback surveys completed by apprentices and school leaver trainees nationwide who have recently completed their qualification programs.

Savers was recognised as ‘Top Employer for Retail’, beating the likes of Harrods and Boots to receive the top accolade. The organization also won ‘Best Level of Support’ and ‘Best for Job Satisfaction’, as well as taking the runner-up spots in two further categories, ‘Best Training’ and ‘Best for Skills Development’.

Further information about the awards and a full list of winners can be found here.

You’re Invited!

Highfield will be on the road again this summer, exhibiting at several industry events where you’ll be able to meet and speak to members of the Highfield team about our bespoke services, view a selection of user-friendly training materials written to support our qualifications, learn more about our digital solutions and see first-hand how working with Highfield can provide added value to your business.

You can come and see us at any of the following events:

Safety & Health Expo


The Safety & Health Expo is targeted at professionals working within the health and safety industry. The 3-day exhibition allows delegates to discover the latest innovations and products from leading organisations within the industry, network with like-minded colleagues, receive updates on critical legislation and accumulate CPD points.

Date: 21-23 June 2016 Venue: Excel, London Stand: U1720

Health +  Care


Health + Care is not only the largest national event for health and care in the UK, but also the most comprehensive event for sector professionals. The Commissioning Show, The Residential Care Show, Technology First and The Home Care Show are all part of the event, so attendance at Health + Care will provide delegates with the opportunity to network with key sector stakeholders.

Date: 29-30 June 2016 Venue: Excel, London Stand: B46

AELP National Conference 2016

Booth 28 - HABC - Artwork

This conference features key speeches from government ministers, senior officials and leading academics. There will also be several workshops and an exhibition. The conference is aimed at all those who work within the employment and skills sector and who want to be at the forefront of future developments within the industry.

Date: 27-28 June 2016 Venue: Novotel London West, Hammersmith Stand: 28

If you would like any further information regarding any of these events  or you are planning to attend any of them and would like to arrange a meeting with a member of the Highfield team in advance,  please email

We hope to see you soon.

It worked for me: Highfield Apprenticeship

Rob started working for Highfield in 2012 as an IT apprentice. Demonstrating excellent potential, he secured a permanent position with the company following his apprenticeship placement to become a developer within our e-learning team. Like many of his colleagues within the company, Rob has risen through the ranks of the company due to this exceptional commitment and talent, and he is now set to commence managing a new team of IT apprentices later in the year.

Rob profile pic

What were your responsibilities as an apprentice?

During my apprenticeship I was responsible for providing outstanding customer service in both internal and external technical IT support. I was also responsible for the design and creation of the range of new Highfield Apprenti-kit products.

What attracted you to an apprenticeship?

Being able to earn whilst I learn, gain new skills and invaluable experience and obtain qualifications in a professional environment.

What skills and experience did you gain from your apprenticeship?

During my apprenticeship I worked alongside all areas of IT picking up skills and experience in customer service, internal and external technical IT support, product design and development and basic programming.

What did your position involve?

My position involved providing online and over-the-phone technical support to our customers that have purchased our electronic products; I would also provide support to our internal customers looking after their hardware and network systems. I was also in charge of creating a brand new range of products called Apprenti-kits that would help thousands of other apprentices complete their apprenticeships too. These were paper-based at first before I later developed an electronic version that could be completed on a computer device.

What is it like to work for Highfield?

It is a pleasure to work for Highfield and alongside all of Highfield’s employees, we are a tight-knit company inside and outside of the office. There is never a dull day and we are always very busy, which is not a bad thing!

What was the highlight of your apprenticeship?

The highlight of my apprenticeship was when I had finished my very first product, that I knew would help so many other apprentices throughout their apprenticeships.

Do you feel that an apprenticeship was beneficial to your career?

Without completing my apprenticeship at Highfield I would not be in the position that I am in now 4 years on, I am soon to manage my own team of apprentice e-learning developers where I can use my own experience as an apprentice to help guide them through their journey.

How would you describe your apprenticeship in 3 words?

Challenging, enjoyable and rewarding.

As a former apprentice, what advice would you give to anybody considering an apprenticeship?

Go for it, there are so many fantastic opportunities in apprenticeships, you can earn a wage whilst gaining invaluable experience and qualifications, and make sure that you choose an apprenticeship in the area that you want to build a career within and that you will love and enjoy.

It worked for me: Highfield Apprenticeship

To mark National Apprenticeship Week and to celebrate the significance of work-based learning, we’ll be speaking to members of the Highfield team about their apprenticeship experience.

Emily profile pic

Prior to starting her apprenticeship in 2012, Emily studied graphic design at college. After completing her studies she was looking for a solution that would allow her to continue her studies in a working environment, which led her to an apprenticeship. Emily was attracted to the Highfield design apprentice role due to the variety of professional projects she had the opportunity to work on. During her apprenticeship, Emily demonstrated a strong work ethic, becoming a fundamental member of the Design team, from which she secured a full-time role with Highfield as a junior designer.

What attracted you to an apprenticeship?

I had just finished two years of studying and felt that I needed to do something a little more practical, which is why an apprenticeship shone far brighter than any university course did.

What did your position involve?

My position really was to get involved and learn from my colleagues. When you first go into an apprenticeship you need to learn how the company itself works and from then on once you have learnt the essential skills, will start to find your place in the team (it just sort of clicks).

What is it like to work for Highfield?

It is a great adventure; you are rarely doing the same type of job. You will get to work on all types of projects with different team members for multiple clients.

What were your main responsibilities as an apprentice?

I looked after the event material, the setting of exam papers and creating a newsletter for Highfield. After a few weeks I also got the chance to join in with other activities such as photo shoots, which I found to be great fun. This was helpful as I got to work with other team members learning what they did in their day-to-day jobs.

What skills and experience did you gain from your apprenticeship?

I have gained so much from working at Highfield it would be hard to pin point only a few items to talk about. Within my initial 12 months I progressed so far and learnt how to produce products and each process that goes into doing so.

What was the highlight of your apprenticeship (biggest achievement etc.)?

I believe my greatest highlight was being offered a full-time position at Highfield. I felt that I had become part of the team and part of the Highfield family.

Do you feel that an apprenticeship was beneficial to your career?

It was really the greatest thing for me at the time as I don’t think I was ready to go to university. I was a rather timid person before I started working at Highfield and over the years I have grown so much both professionally and as an individual. I feel that this has been one of the greatest things I have done in my career so far and am looking forward to future endeavours.

How would you describe your apprenticeship in three words?

Super, smashing, great!!!

As a former apprentice, what advice would you give to anybody considering an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship was so much better for me as I was learning on the job, completing live briefs, being tutored by others with more experience than myself and growing as a person instead of sat in a classroom. Overall I would say consider an apprenticeship with Highfield as my experience here was so helpful for me and I do feel I found myself at Highfield.