The Joint services have been developing their Adventurous Training award schemes over the past few years, bringing them more closely in to line with their civilian equivalents. Every year, they employ a team of British Mountain Guides to work on their Joint Services Alpine Meet (JSAM) in Switzerland. As part of that team of Guides, and with experience of managing the activities of Plas y Brenin National Mountain Centre, I was suitably experienced to lead on an objective review of the practical and procedural Activity Management and Quality Assurance processes within JSAM 2015.
This review explored the relationship between the formal procedures and documentation, alongside the practical application and delivery of courses. Working on both weeks of the meet gave an opportunity to practically compare and contrast between courses, course directors, and students alike.
In addition, a certain amount of desk based research was conducted through the review of key procedural documents. The online booking system was demonstrated; the JSAT course resources reviewed; and the student application and selection process (via the MOD Defence Gateway) was compared. As is common for such a review, a certain amount of random sampling was conducted, in order to follow a student’s progression from booking, through selection, to course allocation and completion.
Informal interviews and targeted discussion were carried out with numerous Joint Service staff; comparative opinion was also sought from independent British Mountain Guides as regular visiting instructors; and a number of Joint Services instructors voluntarily came forward to discuss and question issues that emerged throughout the meet.
The result is a 10 000 word report that comprehensively reviews the Activity Management systems of Joint Services Adventurous Training and provides a comparison between operating procedures and practical course delivery. It also compares these procedures with those managed by other training organisations and awarding bodies. The report found the majority of the practices and procedures to be industry gold standard. The fact that the Joint Services have undertaken this level of objective scrutiny speaks volumes. As a consequence, the report raises just fifteen questions, mostly regarding consistency and clarity, for the Joint Services to address if they wish.