Most paddlers involved with the British Canoeing awards schemes will by now have heard about the changes to the 4 and 5 Star awards and the more recent announcement about changes to the coaching scheme planned from next January. Judging from the questions and comments I’ve had in recent weeks however I suspect many other paddlers may be wondering what this all means for them!
The short answer is that we are talking primarily about name changes to clarify the stages on each of our personal skills, leadership and coaching pathways. Paddlers working towards, or interested in, these qualifications should continue on their chosen path and should find the process of becoming qualified increasingly easier.
The personal skills awards now stop at 3 Star with the former 4 Star and 5 Star awards clearly focussed as leadership qualifications and rebranded accordingly. Importantly there are no changes to the syllabi, pre-requisites nor the remit of these awards so paddlers who have embarked on the journey to qualifying, as for example (4 Star) White Water Kayak Leaders, can continue as before with just the words ‘4 Star’ disappearing from their certificates etc. Together with Open Canoe, Sea and other discipline awards these are generically now referred to as Moderate Water Leader awards. The former 5 Stars similarly become Advanced Water Leader awards. Both sets of awards build on the new Paddlesport Leader qualification which is a Sheltered Water award.
The planned changes to the coaching scheme similarly are about name changes but also taking the opportunity to make gaining the qualifications paddlers want easier. What is currently known as Level 1 Coach is being rebadged as Paddlesport Instructor, while Level 2 becomes the Coach Award, available in the current three Sheltered Water discipline options (Canoe, Kayak and combined Canoe & Kayak), while also incorporating the Moderate Water Endorsement programme and extending the range to create new Freestyle, Polo, Racing, Slalom and Wild Water Racing Coaches. The pre-requisite barriers are also being reduced so no longer will you have to complete Level 1/Instructor before signing up for Level 2/Coach, indeed there will be no requirement to attend a formal training course before presenting for assessment. Nor will there be any need to qualify as a ‘generic’ Coach before assessment as, for example, a White Water Kayak or Racing Coach.
Level 3 Coaches become Performance Coaches in each of the disciplines as currently. While the words ‘Level 1’ etc will be dropped from the titles, the Instructor, Coach and Performance Coach awards will continue to be aligned at the existing levels on the national framework and be endorsed by UKCC.
As you may gather, I’m enthusiastic about the changes! They present a more logical approach to new paddlers and outsiders (with three distinct strands – personal skills, leadership and coaching), filling gaps (the new Paddlesport Leader) and making qualifications easier and more cost-effective to attain. You’ll find more on the British Canoeing website but, as ever, if you want any advice about your own personal pathway do get in touch…