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NOCN Approved Centre Civil Ceremonies rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted

Civil Ceremonies Ltd - who offer a nationwide service to train and develop celebrants to carry out a range of ceremonies across the UK - has been rated by Ofsted as Outstanding in all five performance categories observed.

The inspection in November was the company’s first-ever by the national body, which reports to Parliament and is responsible for ensuring the highest of standards in the provision of education and skills.

Set up in 2002, Civil Ceremonies has been responsible for the training and qualification of more than 1000 new celebrants officiating at ceremonies from marriage to funerals to baby naming.  

Civil Ceremonies has been an NOCN approved centre since 2014 and has worked with One Awards and previously OCN North East Region since 2008.

It is the only provider of such training in the UK that offers funding for the skills through Advanced Learner Loans, a non-means-tested Government scheme similar to a student loan, and operated via the Student Loans Company.

Based in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, small business Civil Ceremonies was found by the three inspectors visiting to be Outstanding in five categories:

  • The effectiveness of leadership and management
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Outcomes for learners
  • Adult learning programmes

Anne Barber, Founder and Managing Director of Civil Ceremonies Ltd, said: “We are thrilled to receive this official recognition from Ofsted. We may only be a small team but this ‘Outstanding’ mark demonstrates how we can compete at the highest level on the quality of our training.

“Over the past 18 years, we have seen a huge increase in demand for places on our training schemes, fuelled by the popularity of celebrant-led ceremonies such as funerals and wedding celebrations ceremonies. We are proud those we have trained are now contributing week-in, week-out to helping individuals and families mark some of the most important milestones in their lives. I hope our Ofsted results enable us to go from strength-to-strength and have an impact on many more lives in the years to come.”

In the Ofsted report issued following the inspection, Civil Ceremonies was commended for aspects including:

  • A detailed business plan that has a clear focus
  • Training staff with very good sector knowledge and experience
  • Very well-designed training programmes with excellent information, advice and guidance for learners
  • Giving learners a very good understanding of British values, social inclusion and equality and diversity
  • Managing its distance learning programme scrupulously

The inspectors referred to the way celebrants discussed their pride and satisfaction in helping families at both celebratory ceremonies and funerals.

Learners with specific support needs are looked after by the company, including one provided with a special chair to accommodate her spinal condition and others who are dyslexic provided with learning materials on special coloured paper.

As well as its 12 trainers, Civil Ceremonies has a 4-strong administration team working behind-the-scenes to help learners achieve. It offers two national qualification Level 3 Diploma courses, one in funeral celebrancy and one in wedding and family celebrancy with training in two parts, distance learning and a residential week.

Many people successfully complete both courses and the Ofsted inspectors looked carefully at the success rates of those taking the qualifications as well as the rates of people starting their own business as self-employed celebrants, following the training.

Anne Is delighted that celebrants stay in touch and the company offers ongoing endless support for as long as celebrants need It. Celebrants often refer to the training as 'life-changing'. A 2018 trainee said at the end of his training. 'I am now reflecting on the whole course. The telephone conversations Initially then the application process, the distance learning, study and hard work. I feel that what I have done is something special and that makes me proud. It has definitely made an impact and a difference in my life, in turn, and in time, the benefit of the training will help me to make an impact and difference to the lives of bereaved people. Thank you.'

For the past two years, Civil Ceremonies has also run the National Convention for Celebrants. Celebrants attend from all over the UK and the next Convention is in August 2019.

Anne added: “People may not realise just what it takes to become a fully-trained celebrant, but we are seeing an increased interest in the role from applicants in this country and from overseas.

“Becoming a celebrant offers both a full or part-time source of income plus gives immense joy, pride and fulfilment for the celebrant knowing they have enabled people to have a really personal couple ceremony, have their child named or to remember a loved-one in the way they wish at a funeral. We can train people in this important new profession and in many cases receive funding from the Government to gain the skills.”

Skills learned and developed during Civil Ceremonies’ training include meeting with clients, creative ceremony writing, delivery skills and setting up a self-employed business. These are achieved through a wide variety of training methods including distance learning, tutor sessions including discussion and questioning, videos and role-play.

The full Ofsted Report can be viewed here