Sport England’s quality assurance scheme, Quest, which has been defining industry standards and good practice for more than 25 years, is on the look out for new assessors.
With so many of the UK’s 2,000+ leisure centres now undertaking Quest, and the number steadily rising, opportunities for new assessors to join the team are currently available.
Sarah Lobo is Head of External Accreditations at Right Directions, which manages Quest on behalf of Sport England. She said: “Pre Covid, we were regularly assessing around a third of the country’s leisure centres and we’re quickly building back up to this, so we are looking to recruit new assessors, who will undertake a minimum of four assessments a year – though many choose to do more.”
Lorenzo Clark, whose full time role is a contract manager with Everyone Active, is one of the 30 existing Quest assessors that travel the length and breadth of the UK each year, evaluating the country’s leisure facilities to ensure our services are delivering a positive impact on the community. Clark has been a Quest assessor since 2000 and during this time has completed more than 200 assessments.
“It’s a great job,” he said. “Understanding how operators deliver their products and services, and witnessing centres that take real pride in helping people, makes this role so satisfying; to see best practice in action is very fulfilling.
“I’ve assessed everything from elite centres like Bisham Abbey and Lee Valley White Water Centre, to community centres and skate parks attached to schools. Assessing Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre at the foot of Mount Snowdon, close to where I was born, was fantastic, but university assessments are another world altogether, with a different community. Each visit is very different and generally the people you meet are so enthused and animated, it’s brilliant.”
A Quest assessor must have at least five years’ leisure facilities or active communities’ management experience, with extensive knowledge of best practice in health and safety management and operational requirements, to help them identify areas of performance improvement for centres and their teams.
Personal experience of a facility or team going through a Quest assessment is also beneficial, as well as a personal interest in sport, leisure, health and general wellbeing.
Once fully trained, assessors are sent a list of possible assessments each month and can liaise with their chosen facility to agree a date within a flexible one-month window.
Assessors can undertake additional training through Quest, enabling them to appraise specialist Quest Plus modules, including Swim England, Learn to Swim, Exercise Referral and Tackling Inequalities in Leisure.
“To be a Quest assessor you need to be broad minded and pragmatic in order to view each facility as a new individual centre rather than clouding your mind with what you or others do well, whilst also remembering everyone believes they are carrying out best practice. You need to understand why they think that, and check and challenge it in a positive way,” continues Clark.
“Assessments need to be fair and reasonable. It’s about building scores up, finding good or best practice whilst highlighting areas for improvement, not specifically looking for faults or taking points away. Helping teams to understand the positives of their result is a really nice aspect of the role, nobody wants to fail and that needs to be on your mind when assessing.
“I always like return to centres for their re-assessment (Directional Review) too. It helps to complete the process as I can understand if they have evolved, embraced the process and made meaningful changes as a result.”
Clark’s advice to anyone thinking about becoming a Quest assessor: “Do you currently do Quest, and if not why not? I was told very early on in my career, that even if my leisure centre didn’t do Quest I would need a business plan covering Quest’s core elements, so why not learn from the best and help the industry improve by reviewing it from the inside?”
Quest assessors are paid to complete the assessment and write up the report and all expenses are covered. To find out more about becoming a Quest assessor contact: email@example.com