Highfield Works – make life easier with e-assessment

We like to make life simpler for our customers.

Which is why we’re encouraging everyone to switch to e-assessment.

Highfield Works is Highfield’s own, bespoke e-assessment system, built to meet your needs.

Designed to make assessments more straightforward, Highfield Works will save you time while giving you more control managing exams.

And because it involves less paperwork and postage, Highfield Works saves you money.

It’s also easy to use, so even if you’re not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, don’t worry – we can guide you through how it works, step by step, so that you’ll be an expert in no time.

So if you like the idea of saving time, money and having life made a bit simpler (and quite frankly, why wouldn’t you?) then check out the information below.

You can also speak to us on 0845 2260350 / 01302 363277 or by emailing sales@highfield.co.uk. Or if you’re already a Highfield-approved centre, contact your account manager who will be happy to help.

What you need to know about our products, qualifications and GDPR

As you are probably aware, the GDPR – or the General Data Protection Regulation – came into effect in May and has changed the way all businesses keep data.

But it also has an impact on the content of our qualifications and products, and in some cases how those qualifications and products should be used.

We’ve produced a short video (less than two minutes) to let you know what we’re doing to make sure ALL of our products and qualifications are compliant with the GDPR.

In the meantime, if you are a Highfield centre and have a specific question, please contact your account manager who will be happy to help.

Or contact us on 0845 2260350 / 01302 363277 or info@highfield.co.uk

The New World of Apprenticeship Standards and the Puzzle of On-Programme Delivery

Apprenticeships have evolved. A shift away from the safe and well-known framework to the more flexible and holistic approach of standards offers employers, training providers and colleges a host of opportunities. However, the relative lack of structure also causes confusion, uncertainty and makes delivery a puzzle that must be solved.

Since the launch of the standards we have been asked so many questions that start with the word ‘how’. How do I start? How do I track progress? How do I prove my apprentices are ready for gateway? How do I know that my apprentices are progressing? How do I evidence my apprentices have the requisite knowledge, skills and behaviours required of the standard? How do I ensure my apprentices cover the 20% off-the-job training?

If you’re asking these same questions, please know that you are not alone.

The change to the standards is a whole new world when it comes to apprenticeships. It is a giant leap in the delivery model from frameworks to standards and the lack of detail can make planning the mandatory on-programme learning difficult. The lack of a clearly defined structure can leave training providers unsure how to structure their delivery. It can leave the apprentice feeling isolated and confused and means that the risk of the apprentice dropping off the programme is heightened.

Clearly there is a need for greater structure. There are ambitious targets of 3 million apprentices completing the standards by 2020. This number becomes increasingly unlikely as we all read stories of the dwindling numbers of new starters, and that many providers across all sectors are claiming it is taking longer for apprentices to reach gateway, and that the natural consequence of this is, of course, that apprentices’ motivation reduces while their frustrations go the opposite way. The risk of non-completion also rises.

When it comes to supporting our customers through on-programme delivery, the main way we can help is through our Apprenti-kits. The premise of our Apprenti-kit is that it provides a clear pathway from day one of the apprenticeship through to gateway, and that they are:  

  • mapped to the standards that they support
  • created by genuine industry experts with recent relevant experience
  • are available as an e-kit that is compatible with most e-portfolio systems
  • are broken down into manageable sized modules that can be completed at the apprentice’s own pace
  • evidence the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the apprentice
  • contain over 1,000 hours of our experience, expertise and knowledge
  • track learners’ progress towards gateway and evidence their readiness for end-point assessment

We are committed to continuing to listen and respond to our customers’ needs, particularly around on-programme apprenticeship delivery and preparation for end-point assessment. Our ultimate aim is to contribute to the number of apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship, and to continue to provide leading work-based learning qualifications and training materials.

Speaking about Highfield Apprenti-kits, Jon Ansty, Head of Assessment, at Eastleigh College, said:

I have been working with Highfield for nearly three and a half years now. During this time our working relationship has flourished. When we started looking at the transition to standards, we met a few times to discuss the offer from Highfield around the Apprenti-kit for frameworks as well as standards.

The kits we use are for a range of areas, we use kits for the new standards in Hospitality Team Member and Hospitality Supervisor, Customer Service Practitioner as well as Adult Care Worker and Lead Adult Care Worker.

The quality of the kits has been recognised by our employers including HC3S where we have branded the Apprenti-kits with their logo. The kits are of a professional level and I am impressed by the support provided by both Highfield in facilitating further tweaks to personalise the kits for Eastleigh College as well as the employers.’

Find out how we can work with your organisation to deliver effective on-programme training by calling us on 0845 226 0350 or 01302 363 277 or emailing info@highfieldassessment.com.

The Importance of Construction Site Safety

Dangers on a construction site are plentiful: moving machinery, working at height, heavy and bulky materials and tight and confined spaces are just some of the risks that are readily identifiable.

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are over 250 million work-related accidents every year. A 2014 article in Construction Management magazine claims that 19.5% of all fatal accidents at work occur in the construction industry. Shocking statistics, it is fair to say, but perhaps not close enough to home to change attitudes and behaviour?

A recent crackdown on the construction industry in Abu Dhabi saw the city municipality issue 67 offences and 53 warnings to building contractors and consultants for ‘failing to create a safe working environment’.

Of the offences recorded at construction sites several citations included unsafe work at height, failure to service firefighting equipment and non-compliance with personal protective equipment.

The message is clear: construction sites must comply and ensure that contractors and consultants abide by environment, health and safety (EHS) standards to maintain the safety of employees, protect against the risk to life and mitigate against potential hazards in the workplace.

Building a culture of safety compliance

There is no one solution and the reality is accidents will always happen. Providing employees with the tools to identify and manage risks is a necessity when trying to reduce potential harm. Education and improving compliance through knowledge and qualifications must come to the fore.

To help employers in the Middle East and Asia improve the standards of EHS we have recently launched a suite of internationally recognised health and safety qualifications for construction. These short courses provide construction workers with the knowledge and attitude they need to ensure compliance with health and safety standards:

The focus on improving health and safety is not a flash in the pan, but is part of a sustained approach that is being replicated not only in Abu Dhabi but across the Gulf Cooperation Council. The municipality said it would continue the campaign across all building and construction sites in Abu Dhabi.

Following the inspections, the municipality released a statement, which read: 

‘The inspectors also made a number of observations and directives aimed at improving health and safety on-site and ensuring that all requirements are met’.

At Highfield we are keen to play our part in reducing the harm caused by avoidable accidents in the construction sector. With the increased scrutiny on health and safety and the growing importance of equipping workers with the knowledge and qualifications to avoid non-compliance, the worldwide figures for death in the construction industry will only head in one direction. 

GDPR – change is here

There are few things that have filled businesses of all sizes with greater dread over the last year than the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As of 25 May 2018, this regulation applies to how all personal data is stored and processed.  

If you’re only just getting to grips with the GDPR, it can seem like a minefield. Questions are raised such as, ‘Can we still contact our existing customers?’ ‘How long can I keep my customers’ details?’ ‘What details am I allowed to keep?’ ‘How do we promote our goods and/or services now?’

Complying with the GDPR may at first seem like sailing through choppy waters, without completely understanding your map.

It’s likely by now though that someone at your company has managed to get their head around the basic principles and have a broad understanding of what you can and what you can’t do under the new regulation. If they haven’t yet, then this certainly needs to happen. It’s also essential that everyone in your organisation involved in data processing has a good understanding of the basic principles of the GDPR.

Consequences of non-compliance 
It’s essential that information concerning compliance with the GDPR is disseminated among your staff, especially considering that companies can be fined up to €20,000,000 or 4% of their turnover if they are found to be breaching it. Therefore, it’s something that’s pretty important to get right and you should ensure that everyone who is handling data is aware of what their new responsibilities are.

Like most things though the GDPR probably isn’t as scary as it may first appear. By ensuring your team has understood the basics and how it impacts their daily activities, the fear factor suddenly disappears, and compliant behaviour becomes second nature. But you need to consider how you’re going to achieve this.

Internal training sessions by your data compliance team are great, but another option that’s surely worth considering – especially for larger employers – is e-learning. This allows your team members to learn everything they need to at a time convenient to them (and their workload). It also allows each individual to have their knowledge on the regulation tested (something less achievable in group sessions). 

We provide a number of short e-learning courses, all specifically written to enable your employees/learners to obtain the knowledge they need to achieve compliance in their job role. Our latest course covers the topic of the GDPR and the basics of what your team will need to know, including things like subject access requests, data breaches, scenarios and the right to be forgotten. It’s also loaded with interactive and multiple-choice exercises.

For more information, just go to: https://www.highfieldelearning.com/products/gdpr

Review: Hygiene for Management

At Highfield, we’re always happy to receive reviews of our products, and are thrilled to hear what our customers think of the training materials we produce.

Recently we received a thorough review of the 19th Edition of Hygiene for Management from the Food Safety Authority Ireland.

Hygiene for Management – A textbook for food safety courses
19th Edition 2017
Richard A Sprenger DMS, FCIEH, FREHIS, FSOFHT
Published by Highfield Products Limited
ISBN 978-1-910964-44-6

A Standard Reference for Food Safety Standards

Our information age is driven by the expectation of an instant response to any question. Where once the 20 volume encyclopaedia ruled, websites, blogs, electronic journals, social media and voice activated and responsive personal assistants now dominate. Whatever the question, the answer can surely be found in the latest app on your smartphone.  The idea of a textbook or a reference book seems outdated. Not so.  First published in 1985 and constantly revised and updated Hygiene for Management graces our shelves now in its 19th edition.  Richard Sprenger continues to produce a standard reference for food safety courses, a useful companion for those in food business for whom a practical knowledge of food safety is an essential part of daily life.

Richard Sprenger is a well-known and respected food safety professional with extensive experience and a very successful track record particularly in food safety training. His latest work is a culmination of all of that experience, setting down on paper a practical compendium of information and advice in a useful format. The book is in essence a textbook which continues to withstand the test of time. Like any reference, it is designed to be used in finding specific items of information than for cover to cover reading. Although, for the student new to food safety, reading the book from start to finish will provide a thorough mix of information which will provide a solid grounding for those engaged in managing or running a food operation.

Food safety is not a commercial advantage, but certainly a lack of it or a lack of appreciation of its significance by management and staff will place any business in peril.  Despite the sophistication of the modern age, the food industry still suffers from scares and disasters minor and major, all of which are avoidable though the application of basic hygiene, good design and technology, some science,  legal compliance, training and management and preventative techniques. Sprenger’s book lays out the essential knowledge for managers in the food sector if they are to fulfil the principal roles of management which for food or other sectors is the same– understanding the nature of their business, planning, leading, organising and controlling.

Hygiene for Management is divided into 14 chapters, two appendices and a useful glossary of terms which are highlighted in colour throughout the text as an easy reminder for the reader.

At the heart of food safety is the knowledge that sometimes food can do harm to people and therefore steps need to be taken to eliminate or mitigate the harm.   A knowledge of the potential harm is therefore a good place to start. The book takes the reader through the chemical, biological, physical and allergenic hazards and the changing nature of food poisoning.  Another chapter deals with food microbiology and food poisoning and another with pest control.

Most mitigating or preventative approaches to food safety begin with so called prerequisite programmes – premises design and construction, equipment design and maintenance. A chapter each is devoted to these topics. All chapters are illustrated by drawings and photographs and useful summary tables.  The language style is direct and to the point.  Cleaning and disinfection are given ample treatment, again in direct manner drawing clear distinctions, covering many examples with commentary on their application and effectiveness. There is a straightforward chapter on personal hygiene, good practice and exclusion policies.

Given Sprenger’s wide experience in training and training methods it is no surprise that emphasis is placed on its importance; practical advice given on communication, training options and how to make training effective and reinforced.

All modern food businesses have food safety systems based on HACCP principles. This too gets the Sprenger direct treatment and explanation. Alternatives to HACCP are also discussed. The chapter is enough to give the student a reasonable understanding of the principles and their application. As with all learning, of course, the textbook knowledge has to be supplemented by doing. Nevertheless, the information at least will provide managers with an appreciation of the preventative and proactive approaches to eliminating or mitigating against harm.

Legal compliance is an unavoidable feature of all approaches to food safety. Knowledge of and adherence to legal obligations is something every food business has to manage. The book provides a sort of whistle-stop tour of the main legal obligations on safety, hygiene and labelling. It is largely based in EU and UK law and enforcement practices, which could be said to limit its usefulness. In a chapter this size, however, it is not really possible to do little more than to signpost the main issues.  With the approach of Brexit, it will be interesting to see how this chapter and other legal references evolve in the next edition.

A brief outline description is given of third party food safety standards such as those of the BRC and the GFSI, the subject of much debate at international level today.  Such business-to-business standards are, in reality, often of more significance for commercial survival, than legal obligations. Some mention is included on traceability and the increasingly important subject of food fraud. A short appendix on the types of food processing effectively completes the volume.

Needless to say, when preparing a textbook, the difficulty is not in deciding what to include, but rather what to omit.  The tricky area of food additives would be worth including, as would the principles of the rules governing food contaminants and the complex rules on microbiological criteria. Mention could also be made of compositional standards and of course an entire book could be easily devoted to labelling, country of origin and provenance, health claims and nutritional labelling. For the food safety enthusiast, there is an unending curriculum to study.

In fairness, Hygiene for Management does what it sets out to do – provide good reference material for the manager and the ab initio food safety student. The sustainability of a food business is dependent on good standards of food safety. The survival of the textbook for 35 years is recommendation enough in itself and a clear indication of the popularity of Sprenger’s teaching craft and training ability.

Raymond Ellard
Raymond Ellard is a Director of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland

If you’re a Highfield customer with thoughts on our product range, or if you’d like to provide feedback or a review, contact us today on shughes@highfield.co.uk  

Acrylamide in food: getting to grips with new legislation

Acrylamide is a word that has been popping up in the news a lot of late. And if you are involved in any element of food safety, either as an industry professional or a trainer, it’s a word you’re going to be hearing a lot more.

This April saw the European Union (EU) pass legislation to limit the amount of acrylamide allowed in packaged foods for the first time. The legislation also compels manufacturers to actively reduce the level of acrylamide in their finished products.

The move came after a number of high-profile stories in the UK press concerning the use of acrylamide in food. But what is it? And how can food safety professionals stay on the right side of the new legislation?

What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical that naturally forms in starchy food products during every-day, high- temperature cooking, such as frying, baking and roasting, and industrial processing at 120°C and above.  It mainly forms from sugars and amino acids that are naturally present in many foods. Fried products such as chips and crisps contain the most acrylamide, while toasted bread can contain ten times as much as untoasted bread. The most important food groups contributing to exposure are fried potato products, coffee, biscuits, crackers and crisp breads, and soft bread.

Acrylamide is a known carcinogen and can pose a health risk, particularly to children who are more likely to have cereal and potato-based snacks in their diets. However, possible harmful effects of it on the nervous system, pre and post-natal development and male reproduction were not considered to be a concern, based on current levels of dietary exposure.

The new legislation
The new legislation was introduced on 11 April 2018. Previously, efforts to reduce acrylamide in food had been voluntary. However, the new legislation sets a benchmark level of acrylamide for various food products, which go from 350 micrograms (μg) of acrylamide per kilogram for biscuits and cookies, 750μg per kilogram for potato crisps, and 850μg per kilogram for instant soluble coffee. Foods aimed at children such as rusks and baby food have considerably lower benchmark levels.

Facts for trainers and food business operators
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has already published guidelines that will be of use to trainers and food business operators.

General advice includes:

• be aware of acrylamide as a food safety hazard and have a general understanding of how acrylamide is formed in the food they produce
• take the necessary steps to mitigate acrylamide formation in the food they produce; adopting the relevant measures as part of their food safety management procedures
• undertake representative sampling and analysis where appropriate to monitor the levels of acrylamide in their products as part of their assessment of the mitigation measures
• keep appropriate records of the mitigation measures undertaken, together with sampling plans and the results of any testing

Trainers should keep an eye out for updates by the Food Standards Agency on the regulatory requirements. In the meantime, further guidance can be found via the links below:

http://www.bha.org.uk/interim-acrylamide-guidance/

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/corporate_publications/files/acrylamide150604.pdf

https://www.food.gov.uk/science/acrylamide-0

 

We’re running the London Marathon for VICTA!

The Highfield team will be running the London Marathon again this year to raise money for VICTA.

And Highfield MD Chris Sprenger will be running the entire distance (we hope!) dressed as a ZombieGerm! 

To find out more, click on the video below. Or if you’d like to donate, go to Team ZombieGerm’s Virgin Money Giving page.

VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Taking Action) works to provide equipment, services and events that help blind and visually impaired children and young people develop socially, emotionally and educationally, as well as offering their parents a vital network of support and information. It has been Highfield’s chosen charity since 2013, with tens of thousands of pounds raised to date.  

For more information on VICTA click here.

Highfield approved for onboard and station team member end-point assessment

It’s been a busy month for approvals. But coming hot on the heels of aviation and business administration, we’re delighted to announce we’ve been approved to deliver end-point assessment for another passenger transport standard.

Highfield Qualifications has been approved by the government to provide end-point assessment for Passenger Transport – Onboard and Station Team Member with immediate effect. This brings to eight the total number of standards we’re approved for in the transport and logistics sector.

If you are an employer or provider in this sector and are interested in hearing more about the services we can provide around assessment for this standard, just drop us a line at info@highfieldassessment.com Or you call us on 0845 2260350/01302 363 277, where one of our friendly team members will be happy to talk you through the options right for you and your learners.

Highfield Qualifications is recognised as an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and sits on the Register of End Point Assessment Organisations.

EPA services are offered through our Highfield Assessment brand.