The Steadfast Guide to a Career in Managing Care

Courses and Qualifications

Frequently Asked Questions

What courses are available for managers of health and social care?

Who can help me decide on a course of study?

Do I have to apply to a university?

How do I apply to a university in the United Kingdom?

Can I study at home?

What do Levels 1 - 6 mean?

What do NVQ Levels 1 - 5 mean?

What is the difference between an academic and a vocational course or qualification?

What is better - an academic course or a vocational course?

What qualifications do I need to manage residential or domiciliary care services?

What qualifications are required to manage health and social care teams?

Do I have to obtain the Registered Managers Award?

What courses and qualifications are available at Post-graduate or Masters level?

Can I gain credit from courses I have already undertaken?

Who pays for my learning and development?

Can I get any financial help towards courses?

What is the difference between distance learning and open learning?

What is e-learning?

What courses are available for managers of health and social care?

There is a wide range of courses at all levels. The content can vary from a day seminar on a particular management topic to a three year full-time university degree. Courses are provided by commercial organisations, colleges and universities, employers and training consortia.

Some courses and qualifications are delivered to suit managers working in all sectors, others are designed specifically for the public sector, or for the specialism of health and social care management.

Who can help me decide on a course of study?

This website will show you how to find out about the range of courses available.

Course providers will also advise you on whether you would be a suitable candidate and can give you detailed information about course content, academic level, ways of studying and course fees.

If you are already employed, your manager or training department should be able to give initial advice. There also Careers Advice Services in most areas. Libraries and the Internet are a valuable resource for research.

You could also pay for professional careers advice from a commercial organisation.

Things to think about:

Do I have to apply to a university?

Courses with high academic content at degree level have to be accredited by a university. Universities require proof of ability to undertake study at the required level. This may be through A-level or equivalent qualifications. Entry requirements for mature students are often more flexible.

How do I apply to a university in the United Kingdom?

The application process for first degrees is administered by UCAS. Usually applications are made before January for entrance to university in the following September.

The Open University administers its own course applications.

The National Health Service University (NHSU) offers access to management courses.

Many other courses and qualifications are available through further education colleges and training organisations.

Can I study at home?

Many management courses are part-time and designed for people already working in a management post. They may require day release to attend college, or study blocks of several days. Some courses can be studied entirely at home during your own time, or during study leave granted by your employer.

For e-learning and other distance learning you may require the use of a computer at home or at a Learndirect Centre.

Open University courses involve predominantly home study, although some include tutorials or a residential school.

What do Levels 1 - 6 mean?

There is a national scheme which seeks to give an overall structure and equivalence to vocational and academic qualifications.

Level 1
equivalent to GCSE Grade D-E - also equivalent to Foundation GNVQ/Vocational GCSE
Level 2
equivalent to GCSE Grade C - also equivalent to Intermediate GNVQ/Vocational GCSE
Level 3
equivalent to A- Level - equivalent to Advanced NVQ3
Level 4
equivalent to university first degree/HND - equivalent to professional NVQ4
Level 5
equivalent to post-graduate level diploma - equivalent to advanced professional NVQ5
Level 6
equivalent to Masters level - there is no equivalent in NVQ

Open University uses the term Level 1, 2 and 3 to describe the equivalent of the first, second and third year of an undergraduate degree. Level 4 & 5 - Masters Degree and Level 6 - Doctorate.

What do NVQ Levels 1 - 5 mean?

National Vocational Qualifications are assessed from Foundation Level 1 (lowest) to Professional Level 5 (highest).

NVQ in Management can be awarded at four levels.

If you are studying for an academic qualification at the same time as an NVQ, this will have an appropriate title given by the awarding body. Qualifications awarded by the Chartered Managers Institute are named as follows:

NVQ2
Level 2 Certificate in Team Leading
NVQ3
Level 3 Certificate in Management
NVQ4
Level 4 Diploma in Management
NVQ5
Level 5 Executive Diploma in Management

The general principle is that the higher the level, the more responsibility the manager has for the management of others. Level 5 NVQ and the Executive Diploma in Management is aimed at managers responsible for other managers of teams of people.

Academic qualifications in Management offered by the Chartered Management Institute with equivalent NVQ Level.

What is the difference between an academic and a vocational course or qualification?

The content of the course is likely to differ. In general terms, an academic course will have a greater emphasis on the understanding of management theory and the analysis of relevant research findings. A vocational course will include some teaching on theory but will focus on the practical skills and competences a manager needs to carry out the job.

An academic course leading to a qualification has to be accredited by an awarding body as reaching a certain level of academic achievement. It will usually be formally assessed via written assignments, projects and/or examinations. The accrediting body will have a mechanism for ensuring that the assessment of the work submitted is carried out to an agreed standard. This is usually by moderation by an external verifier.

Some short, day or distance learning courses offered by training providers do not lead to a recognised qualification. You may be issued with a certificate of course completion or course attendance. These learning opportunities may help you to work better as a manager and contribute to your overall development.

What is better - an academic course or a vocational course?

This will depend on what you are hoping to achieve, how much time (and money) you have available, your academic background and ability, and what sort of career path you are hoping for. It is important to try to assess these issues before signing up for any course of management study. There are resources and careers guidance services to help you do this.

What qualifications do I need to manage residential or domiciliary care services?

In the United Kingdom, it is now a statutory requirement for the Registered Manager of a residential or domiciliary care service for adults to have satisfactory qualifications. This usually means a social work, nursing or other relevant professional qualification, or NVQ4 in Care, and a management qualification at NVQ4 Level or equivalent.

What qualifications are required to manage health and social care teams?

In some areas of care, management posts are only open to people with the relevant professional qualification and current registration - for example social workers and nurses - where the post-holder is responsible for the clinical practice of others.

In the National Health Service, there are also general manager posts which do not require relevant professional qualifications.

Middle and senior management posts often require a management qualification, but more often proven experience of management is required.

Do I have to obtain the Registered Managers Award?

No. If you have a social work, nursing or other relevant professional qualification, or NVQ4 in Care, and a management qualification at NVQ4 Level or equivalent, you are sufficiently qualified to become a Registered Manager.

If you are completing an NVQ4 in Care and NVQ4 in Management, or the Open University course Managing Care, you can complete some further study to achieve the Registered Managers Award.

For other sectors of health and social care, another management qualification may be more relevant than the Registered Managers Award.

What courses and qualifications are available at Post-graduate or Masters level?

NVQ5 in Management is equivalent to post-graduate level study, but does not have academic accreditation. You can study for a Level 5 Executive Diploma in Management which does have academic status. There are other post-graduate diplomas in Management.

The Advanced Award in Social Work is aimed at senior practitioners and managers of social work services - details from www.gscc.org.uk

An MBA or Masters in Business Administration is available as a one or two year course at several universities, including the Open University, full-time, part-time and through distance learning.

Can I gain credit from courses I have already undertaken?

Many learning providers will consider prior study for credit transfer towards their qualifications.

For NVQ assessment, evidence provided should be reasonably recent - ie within 2 years.

Open University will consider awards of transferred credit. Prior study must have been at UK higher education level, formally assessed and essentially academic in content.

Further details from: www.open.ac.uk/credit-transfer

Who pays for my learning and development?

Your current employer may offer fully-funded opportunities for management training or qualifications. Large health and social care employers have programmes of management development, but access to them may be competitive or targetted towards certain employee groups.

NHS Management Programme: this is a competitive scheme which recruits trainee managers for the National Health Service.

If it is a requirement of your post to become a Registered Manager for a social care service for adults, you would expect your employer to finance the cost of your required training and allow you study leave. Some financial assistance for employers is available from TOPSS to enable staff to qualify.

If you are working as a supervisor or manager, your employer should provide you with a good induction programme and opportunities for learning both on-the-job and in reflection and study. You may need to do some homework and discover the relative costs and commitment of courses or qualifications before approaching your manager.

If you are looking to move into management in the future, then you may have to finance all or part of your studies yourself.

Can I get any financial help towards courses?

If you are accepted onto a university first degree course, then you may be eligible for help from your Local Education Authority with fees, some living expenses and a student loan. This will be financially assessed.

You could apply for a Career Development Loan, which does not have to be repaid while you are learning. www.lifelonglearning.dfes.gov.uk/cdl/

Some educational institutions offer scholarships, bursaries, or have hardship funds. The college or university prospectus or website will usually have details of who to contact.

Some educational charities will offer small grants to help students on low incomes www.access-funds.co.uk. It may be advisable to request a grant to cover specific costs such as childcare, books or travel, for example.

Some LearnDirect courses are available at a reduced price, if you are eligible.

What is the difference between distance learning and open learning?

Distance learning, sometimes called correspondence learning, is a term which applies to study which takes place at a distance from the educational institution which provides the course. It may involve working at home or at the office, contacting a tutor by telephone or email for support and tutorials. Course materials may be sent to you by post, and you would submit your coursework by post or by email.

Open learning has similar features to distance learning, but also implies that the student can decide the timescale for study, and work at individual modules at his own pace, rather than being given deadlines by the course provider.

What is e-learning?

E-learning uses the Internet to provide learning resources.

This can involve use of software to provide interactive learning exercises and self-tests. Whole courses can be delivered through e-learning. The student can either complete such a course a their own pace and at a time of their choice, or a course can be delivered live by a trainer, to a group of students, in the same way as attending a lecture or training day.