NOSense: SkillsActive & BWY - do they dream the same dream?

I am being asked repeatedly to explain what is happening with the NOS (the BWY initiated and funded National Occupational Standard for Yoga being proposed by SkillsActive), so despite my saying I was going to have a day off, I have decided that it might be easier for me to post a summary of the slides from the NOS meeting so that everyone can see what is going on, which might stop them asking me about it! 

Keep Yoga Free

Keep Yoga Free

I feel that there is a huge misunderstanding happening here, mainly fuelled by a lack of transparency, and this has led to 2 bodies coming together but wanting different things. As a BWY teacher & long term active member of the BWY and various BWY committees, I know that the BWY do sincerely want to raise the standards of Yoga Teacher Training. 

Reading through SkillsActive's literature & looking at the slides from the meeting on 24th October 2016, it is evident that Skills Active want to set minimum standards & standardise yoga teacher training. 

These 2 things are NOT the same.

Some background: SkillsActive were not going to pursue the NOS and indeed could not have pursued the NOS without BWY funding since the government stopped funding SkillsActive last year and the government quango that licensed SkillsActive was closed down earlier this year. The only reason that SkillsActive need the BWY involved is to funding. This is evidenced by the penultimate point on the final slide from the SkillsActive meeting on 24th October 2016, pictured below: 

"BWY - TO PROVIDE FUNDING ONLY"

And also in the BWY NEC's minutes from 27/5/16: 

"The Chair has spoken to the Head of Skills Active, who has confirmed that yoga is not one of Skills Active current priority areas, however there is an opportunity to sponsor this process ourselves."

The BWY will have no more say in this process than any other party around that table. So whether the standards are raised or not is not within their power. So who will be around the table? Well, this depends on who volunteers to join in. And that remains to be seen. 

SkillsActive's penultimate slide in their presentation at the 24/10/16 meeting illustrates their aims. I shall consider these points in turn: 

1 & 2. The initial approach from the sector came from the BWY - who are not an employer, so this NOS is not being employer-led as they are supposed to be. SkillsActive already stated to the BWY that a yoga NOS "is not one of SkiilsActive's current priority areas". If yoga employers & insurers were asking for an NOS, surely yoga would be a priority area? 

3. Insurance providers have repeatedly said they are not confused & if you are not sure about this, have a look at this link: http://bgi.uk.com/news/where an insurance company is actually sharing a few articles speaking out against NOS. 

4. I'm not sure which training providers are confused. Each yoga teacher training course provider seems to be setting their own standards really well. The only way that the short training courses that the BWY finds so contentious are getting through is by using the fitness NOS. This is the very NOS that would be used to base the yoga NOS on. Therefore having an actual yoga NOS will allow even more of those short trainings to happen. The very thing that the BWY NEC want to stop. 

5. A minimum standard will be met, not a high standard, but a minimum standard. There have been no links established between length of teacher training & risk of injury. Compared to most forms of exercise yoga is pretty safe. The recent media hype around the allegations contained within William Broad's book have been repeatedly debunked. In my opinion, by promoting the view of yoga as a risky business, the BWY NEC are misrepresenting yoga to the public. Also, as a NEBOSH certificate holding previous industrial health & safety representative, I can safely say (joke intended) that there is no such thing as "risk prevention". The best you can hope for is risk minimisation. To assert risk prevention is to set oneself up for serious legal ramifications. However, you don't need to study for 2 years to gain a diploma to tell you that do you? Its basic common sense.

6. The process will ensure consistency - or in other words standardisation. This is a different matter to raising standards. As an ex secondary school teacher, FE Educator, NHS employee and current massage therapist, I can attest to there being no correlation at all between standardisation and raising standards. 

As a long standing and very active BWY teacher, I am deeply saddened that the BWY NEC seems to have been tricked into paying for this process which will do the very opposite to what they are trying to achieve. I sincerely hope that the BWY NEC have not entered into a binding contract with SkillActive - I am not sure about this point as I am receiving conflicting information about this from a variety of sources - and if they have not, I hope that they pull out of this arrangement before they have to hand over this £20,000. If they have already handed over the money, my best advice to them is to issue a statement saying they have been misled and distancing themselves from this process that is misrepresenting the A&M of the BWY and indeed the whole of yoga.

Debbie Farrar (14/11/16)

Debbie FarrarComment