Ombudsman Service

Issuing Invalid Accreditations/Credentials

  • Date Lodged: between 4th August 2020 and 21st August 2020
  • Reason: Issuing Invalid Accreditations/Credentials
    Following on from a review of the information received, it was determined that:

    • there were three complaints registered:
      1. TCM 12 week NLP Practitioner Programme
        – where the qualified trainer left mid-way through the course, and the resultant qualification is not recognised by the NLP industry or consumers.
      2. TCM 12 week Coaching Qualification Programme, Accredited Foundation Training Course – Equivalent Level 4.
        – where the training organisation awarded their students certification and accreditation; and not a qualification. 
      3. Professional and Ethical Behaviour of Respondents.
    • which resulted in the following complaints: (1) Issuing Invalid Qualification, (2) Issuing Invalid Accreditation, and (3) Professional and Ethical behaviour including Representation, Terminology, and Consistency.
  • Outcome: UPHELD
  • Outcome Issued: 21st September 2020
  • Actions, Recommendations, Sanctions:
    • Complainant: N/A
    • Respondent #1: Sanctions
    • Respondent #2: Sanctions
    • Third Party #1: Recommendations
    • Third Party #2: Recommendations
  • Dates that Actions, Recommendations, and/or Sanctions Lifted:
    The Ombudsman Service has not received an application for these recommendations/sanctions to be lifted. 
    Should an application be received to lift these recommendations/sanctions, this Case Study will be updated.
Ombudsman Service

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Coaches and Mentors CLICK HERE to REGISTER

The Complainants have registered the following requested outcomes:

    1. Full refund.
    2. Compensation for lost earnings.

The Respondent’s coaching course was accredited by a coaching and mentoring Professional Body in June 2019 and remains accredited at the date of publishing this case study.

Therefore, as this course has received an external verification, the Ombudsman Service confirms that the students who have successfully completed this course are fully QUALIFIED.  The industry expectation is that the word ‘qualified’ is used and is not confused by using ‘certified’ and ‘graduated’ as well.

The remaining question is ‘are these students ACCREDITED’?

The International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CICs Unified International Industry of Coaching and Mentoring’s definitions, defined through international research both within and outside the coaching and mentoring industry, clearly state that accreditation is an external validation of competence and is awarded by an external body.

Therefore, the Ombudsman Service deems that there is no commercial value in the accreditations awarded to their students by the Respondent.

In the way in which this course is advertised, the student’s expected that they would gain both a qualification and accreditation.  After independent research but before Respondent published their ‘Governance webpage’, the students understood that the industry standards define that accreditation is awarded from an external coaching and mentoring Professional Body.  This change of understanding of how accreditations are awarded was based on:

    • The confirmation from a senior member of the coaching and mentoring Professional Body team that they are ‘qualified’.
    • The students understanding of the word ‘accreditation’ as explained by a senior member of the coaching and mentoring Professional Body team, is that they are not accredited unless they apply for their personal accreditation from the coaching and mentoring Professional Body that accredited the course or another Coaching Professional Body.
    • The general use of the word ‘accreditation’ across various industries, including in the coaching and mentoring industry.
    • The confusion in Respondents communication and subsequent updates to their website of the definition of ‘accreditation’.

In this complaint, the student’s expectations of the Respondent have partly been met by their ‘qualification’ and have not been met for ‘accreditation’.

It has been determined that these Formal Complaints relate to Managing the Expectations of the consumers, as well as the use of terminologyconsistency, and representation.  The Ombudsman Service has identified that in these Formal Complaints the consumers are Respondent companies students and the student’s clients.

The expectations of the coaching and mentoring industry is that each coach and/or mentor:

    1. may gain industry-specific qualifications from one or more training organisations.
    2. may develop their skills through the experience they gain.
    3. may opt to achieve an external and independent verification of their competence as a coach and/or a mentor through a Professional Body accreditation/credential.
    4. may benefit from a coaching experience with a coaching professional and/or a mentoring experience from an experienced in their industry mentoring professional.

In the coaching and/or mentoring industry there is a common understanding, as documented on the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC’s website, for consumer clarification of the definition of terminology/words.

To provide a simple approach to managing consumer expectations, the following are the common understandings of the words used for the unified international Industry of Coaching and Mentoring:

Accreditation or Credentialing,

as defined by the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC in its wider industry research, is defined as the independent external verification of competence awarded by a Professional Body (accreditation bodies, trade/membership bodies, or associations) to a:

      • Coach;
      • Mentor; or
      • Private Commercial Training Organisation, each course/workshop, and tutors/teachers/lecturers/etc.

Accreditation must not be confused with Qualification.

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Qualification

is awarded to each student (Coach and/or Mentor) through the successful achievement of their training from their Training Body/Organisation.
Qualified students are usually issued with a qualification certificate that shows their success in a specific course or workshop.

Qualification must not be confused with Accreditation.

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Competence

on the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC’s Directories is demonstrated by:

      • each Coach, and/or Mentor who is Registered with the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC and Accredited/Credentialed with one or more International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC Registered/Accredited Professional Bodies.
      • each Private Commercial Training Organisation which is Registered with the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC and Accredited/Credentialed with one or more International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC Registered/Accredited Professional Bodies.
      • each Formal Education Body which is Registered with the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC and is automatically provided with a level of approval through their country’s government-led Education Department.

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Each individual/organisation Registered with the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC has agreed to abide by and (where applicable) incorporate into their training, the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC’s unified industry Codes of Conduct.

No course refund or compensation will be awarded to the Complainants for the following reasons:

    • Through the Respondents course accreditation with the coaching and mentoring Professional Body, it has been confirmed by a senior member of the coaching and mentoring Professional Body team that the students are ‘qualified’.
      Therefore, the review of the second complaint by the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC has shown that the Complainants have obtained a valid ‘qualification’.
    • Although the Ombudsman Service acknowledges that the Complainants may have made the decision not to incorporate coaching into their current business models; when this issue was raised with a senior member of the coaching and mentoring Professional Body team, it was confirmed to one of the Complainants that they were qualified, therefore it is recognised that the business decisions made by the Complainants have no bearing on this case.

In the detail of the documentation, it has been identified by the Ombudsman Service that this course has a number of titles/descriptions across both the Respondents website and the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies website.

To address the consumer expectations the course title and related descriptions must be updated on the Respondents website and on all other websites and relevant marketing materials to remove the word ‘accreditation’ or ‘accredited’ or any related wording in the title or description of the course.  The only place the word ‘accreditation’ or ‘accredited’ should be included is in relation to the trainer’s personal accreditation and the course accreditation with the coaching and mentoring Professional Body.

In its initial review two weeks after publishing the report, the Ombudsman Service found that the Respondent; rather than updating their own website and returning to the course name as accredited by the coaching and mentoring Professional Body, had chosen to update the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies Directory to incorporate the word ‘accreditation’.  This adds to the confusion of the accreditations issued by the coaching and mentoring Professional Body.

All certificates must have the text updated:

    1. FromFor passing the Respondents 12-week Accreditation Coaching Training Course, Equivalent Level 4, and now officially registered as a certified and accredited ‘Coaching Master’.
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      To
      For passing the Respondents 12-week Coaching Qualification Programme, Equivalent Level 4, and now officially registered as a qualified ‘Coaching Master’.
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    2. FromThe Respondents are an accredited training provider under the IAPC&M.
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      ToFor the Respondents – 12-week Coaching Qualification Programme, Equivalent Level 4; the Respondents are an accredited training provider under the IAPC&M.

All existing training certificates for coach training, that include the word(s) ‘accreditation’ in the context of the consumer’s (students) training and qualification must be updated as per the points above.

The expectation of these students is that they are accredited, and this has not been delivered.  Therefore, the Ombudsman Service sanctions the Respondent to work with the coaching and mentoring Professional Body such that all students gain their accreditation from the coaching and mentoring Professional Body.

Through its research, the Ombudsman Service could find no public description of how the Coaching Professional Bodies’s accredited coaches, mentors, or private commercial training organisations are allowed to use the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies name, logo, or accreditation status.

The Ombudsman Service recommends that this information is made public, such that the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies accredited coaches, mentors, and private commercial training organisations, as well as industry consumers, are clear about how the coaching and mentoring Professional Body and the accreditations they award are described on external websites.

When the Ombudsman Service researched the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies website, the FAQ section on how to submit a training provider directory listing included an ‘adjudication’ process; whereas the ‘edit your live directory listings’ does not include the adjudication process.

Therefore, the Ombudsman Service recognised that the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies may not be aware that the Respondent has updated their course name on the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies website to ‘The Respondents Online 3 month Coaching Accreditation Programme.’

The Ombudsman Service recommends that the Coaching Professional Body:

    • Works with the Respondent to determine the course name and ensure that it is updated accurately and in line with the industry definitions as published on the coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies website, the Respondents website and all marketing material, and the Respondents training certificates.
    • Includes the ‘adjudication’ process in their ‘edit your live directory listing’ process and FAQ description.

The complementary medical Professional Body confirmed that they received three training certificates for the trainer (owner of the Respondents company) in support of their knowledge and experience to run the Respondents NLP courses.  Two of these certificates were from the Respondents mothers company confirming their qualification as an NLP Practitioner and an NLP Master Practitioner.  The third was from the coaching and mentoring Professional Body confirming the Respondents Accredited Senior Coach accreditation (not qualification).

As the Respondent has used his coaching and mentoring Professional Bodies Accredited Senior Coach certificate to support his application to gain accreditation for the Respondent’s NLP course accreditation, and the complementary medical Professional Body has used his coaching accreditation (not qualification) in their accreditation of the Respondents NLP courses accreditations; the Ombudsman Service recommends that the coaching and mentoring Professional Body review the wording on their certificate to clarify what their certificates provide – coaching, mentoring, NLP, etc. and whether they provide a ‘qualification’ or ‘accreditation’ and what it means.

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The Ombudsman Service has not received any applications for these actions, recommendations, and sanctions to be lifted.  Should applications be received to lift these actions, recommendations, and sanctions, this Case Study will be updated.

Dated: 21st September 2020
Ombudsman Service
International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring (CIC)
27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX, United Kingdom

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Notes:

  1. The definitions for industry-standard terminology can be found on the IRCM CIC’s Unified International Industry of Coaching and Mentoring Definitions.