Name: Edmund Hadnett
Employer: GPS Marine
Qualification: TAQA Level 3


Captain Edmund Hadnett BSc (Hons), MBA is a former deep-sea Master who has undertaken a considerable amount of teaching with the Port of London Authority and GPS Marine Holdings during the past 6 years. Two years ago, GPS Marine decided to invest in an Apprenticeship Scheme and asked Edmund to set-up the Thames Marine Academy. In order to deliver an SQA accredited Diploma Edmund needed to become quality assured and that’s when he booked onto the TAQA course at IPS. Here he talks about the course and how it has helped the Academy to gain SQA accreditation and be listed on the Registered list of Apprenticeship Training Providers RoATP.

GPS Marine is based in Upnor, Kent and has been established for over 50 years providing services in the workboat industry. Two years ago John Spencer, the Managing Director, asked if I could work with him to set up an Apprenticeship Scheme in order for his workforce to gain the Boatmaster Licence which is required to act as the Master of a vessel along the coast, estuaries and ports. We decided to set up the Thames Marine Academy and it’s been a long journey since neither of us imagined the amount of work involved to gain government funding for an apprenticeship scheme. To progress this initiative the Academy had to become accredited by the SQA to deliver a maritime diploma and the qualification accreditation required that I had to gain the TAQA Level 3 Quality Assurance qualification.

I searched the internet looking for the TAQA qualification and came across the IPS International website. This was perfect for us with IPS being based on the Medway City Estate, which is local to the Academy and very easy to get to. The course has opened my eyes to the quality assurance required to deliver the highest standards of training in the education sector. I was in the Royal Navy for 16 years and a Senior Training Office at Dartmouth for 18 months in the 90’s. The naval college didn’t have any process like this, and it has been enlightening to develop procedures for the Academy to achieve the requisite quality assurance. The IPS Trainer, Lorraine was very patient and with her support and professional guidance we progressed to become an SQA accredited training provider and have in addition gained authorisation to be on the Registered List of Training Providers – in fact we are the only Training Provider authorised to deliver the Boatmaster Licence Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard in the UK.

GPS Marine has a consultant, Chris Wilson, who is responsible for their quality assurance to ensure they meet demanding industry standards and working with him whilst studying for the TAQA meant I got to appreciate just how it all works which was of immense value. The TAQA qualification also assisted me in writing all of the policies and procedures to satisfy the exacting standards of the ESFA to become a registered Academy.

Lorraine and the TAQA course helped me to appreciate the structure of a Unit Specification where the learning outcomes establish what the candidate will do and the assessment criteria are vocational and workplace-based defining what the candidate can do. A fundamental concept is that you can only assess what has been taught which establishes a format for rigorous quality assurance, however, from my experience in the Royal Navy and attending many training providers throughout my career many of the assessment processes have been subjective. I teach a Unit in our training room and then give the Apprentices associated practical tasks to complete in the workplace. Every 3 months I visit them on the workboat to conduct a workplace-based assessment to ensure they have achieved the requisite learning outcomes. This ensures the Apprentice is competent which is of critical importance to any employer and a process I wouldn’t have understood without gaining the TAQA qualification. We currently have 2 cohorts of 6 Apprentices and intend registering a new cohort every 6 months with a plan for 18 Apprentices attending the scheme at any time. We will be holding a Ceremony at the Corn Exchange, Rochester, to welcome the apprentices with their families and friends and plan to have as our principal guest the local MP and Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst.

This Apprenticeship Standard is the foundation of a career in the marine industry where a young person can remain working as the Master of a vessel on the River Thames or progress to higher internationally recognised licences which will enable them to work around the world. The duration of the Apprenticeship Scheme is 18 months and some have already achieved the competencies to work as unsupervised Deckhands and are now working towards being employed as Mate. The benefit to John as the MD of GPS Marine is that he has gained a competent trained workforce before the end of Apprenticeship and the Apprentices have a pathway to a rewarding career. John Spencer wanted to give something back to the industry and by investing in the young generation he has kick started their careers and left a legacy in creating an Academy to deliver an Apprenticeship scheme which has been absent from this sector of the industry since 2007. Because of what we have achieved we can support other marine sectors and even individuals who are not on Apprenticeships can attend the Academy as part of CPD.

I believe what we have achieved in setting up the Academy shows what can be done in a short space of time. We have already booked an employee of GPS Marine onto the TAQA course at IPS to help grow the Academy. In gaining more qualified assessors in support of training I intend later this year to complete the TAQA Level 4 IQA with IPS so that we can undertake Internal Verification in-house.

The TAQA qualification is of great value for anyone involved in education and training. It ensures individuals have the requisite appreciation of the importance of the quality assurance process to ensure that people who attend training get maximum value from the course and an accredited qualification that guarantees competence – the only way to achieve this is by implementing a rigorous quality assurance process.


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