Last word
Julian Leybourne

Icon Training was named as one of the UK's top training providers in April 2012 after it was awarded Outstanding status by Ofsted. Tom Walker speaks to founder Julian Leybourne about Icon's success and his passion for leisure

By Tom Walker | Published in Leisure Management 2012 issue 3


The news that Icon Training had become the first leisure company to obtain seven Grade 1s from its Ofsted inspection was heralded as a landmark for the industry. In its glowing report, Ofsted stated that Icon Training's skills tutors are highly regarded by employers and learners who recognise and appreciate the contribution they make to the leisure industry. Ofsted also praised the influence Icon had on the professionalising of the active leisure sector.

The report said: 'Icon Training is very well managed and has a strong impact on the leisure industry it serves. It provides an inspirational resource for the industry and has transformed many learners' lives. With a current learner success rate of 93 per cent, the company's success rates have continued to improve much faster than the national average.' 

Founded in 1995 by chief executive Julian Leybourne, Icon Training currently delivers training programmes in more than 200 assessment sites nationwide. Leybourne's career in leisure spans nearly 40 years after he started out as a training manager in the early 1970s.

Why do you think Icon Training has been so successful? 
Our success is directly attributed to three factors. First, our outstanding leadership and management focus. Second, our dynamic, inspirational skills tutors. And third, the way we work with employers as a partnership. The employers contribute to our success, because obviously without them the whole thing wouldn't work. 

How important is it for the fitness industry to have well-qualified staff?
One of the greatest achievements from SkillsActive was to create the Register of Exercise Professional (REPs). For the first time there was something that regulated and endorsed competency-based qualifications. Qualifications are one thing but CPD is another, and sector professionals need to demonstrate that competencies are being updated. As chair of the National Management Board for Wales with CIMSPA I am keen that we promote professionalism within the sector. Joining a Chartered Institute will add value to the sector and provide sport and physical activity professionals with a means to top up their CPD and network with other professionals.

While I believe that having a technical qualification in fitness is essential, the best fitness professionals are not just technically competent, they also need to have training in a range of disciplines including customer excellence. This enables them to fully understand the barriers – both real and perceived – to their clients. They also need to understand how to be truly customer-centric.

What does it mean for Icon to achieve the 'outstanding' assessment from Ofsted? 
Its a historic achievement. I think that it's a recognition and endorsement of the integrity, value, professionalism and quality that Icon represents.

The assessment itself is an incredibly rigorous and intensive experience. There are several inspectors who stay with you the whole week and follow you around, talk to your staff, the employers you work with, the partners and also the learners. Mac Cleves, Icon Training's MD was the nominee and he met the challenge well by addressing the inspection priorities and producing a comprehensive programme for inspection.

Icon Training offers a range of courses in leisure, fitness, coaching, management, customer service and business administration
Icon Training founder Julian Leybourne
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2012 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Julian Leybourne

Last word

Julian Leybourne


Icon Training was named as one of the UK's top training providers in April 2012 after it was awarded Outstanding status by Ofsted. Tom Walker speaks to founder Julian Leybourne about Icon's success and his passion for leisure

Tom Walker, Leisure Media
Julian Leybourne
Icon Training offers a range of courses in leisure, fitness, coaching, management, customer service and business administration
Icon Training founder Julian Leybourne

The news that Icon Training had become the first leisure company to obtain seven Grade 1s from its Ofsted inspection was heralded as a landmark for the industry. In its glowing report, Ofsted stated that Icon Training's skills tutors are highly regarded by employers and learners who recognise and appreciate the contribution they make to the leisure industry. Ofsted also praised the influence Icon had on the professionalising of the active leisure sector.

The report said: 'Icon Training is very well managed and has a strong impact on the leisure industry it serves. It provides an inspirational resource for the industry and has transformed many learners' lives. With a current learner success rate of 93 per cent, the company's success rates have continued to improve much faster than the national average.' 

Founded in 1995 by chief executive Julian Leybourne, Icon Training currently delivers training programmes in more than 200 assessment sites nationwide. Leybourne's career in leisure spans nearly 40 years after he started out as a training manager in the early 1970s.

Why do you think Icon Training has been so successful? 
Our success is directly attributed to three factors. First, our outstanding leadership and management focus. Second, our dynamic, inspirational skills tutors. And third, the way we work with employers as a partnership. The employers contribute to our success, because obviously without them the whole thing wouldn't work. 

How important is it for the fitness industry to have well-qualified staff?
One of the greatest achievements from SkillsActive was to create the Register of Exercise Professional (REPs). For the first time there was something that regulated and endorsed competency-based qualifications. Qualifications are one thing but CPD is another, and sector professionals need to demonstrate that competencies are being updated. As chair of the National Management Board for Wales with CIMSPA I am keen that we promote professionalism within the sector. Joining a Chartered Institute will add value to the sector and provide sport and physical activity professionals with a means to top up their CPD and network with other professionals.

While I believe that having a technical qualification in fitness is essential, the best fitness professionals are not just technically competent, they also need to have training in a range of disciplines including customer excellence. This enables them to fully understand the barriers – both real and perceived – to their clients. They also need to understand how to be truly customer-centric.

What does it mean for Icon to achieve the 'outstanding' assessment from Ofsted? 
Its a historic achievement. I think that it's a recognition and endorsement of the integrity, value, professionalism and quality that Icon represents.

The assessment itself is an incredibly rigorous and intensive experience. There are several inspectors who stay with you the whole week and follow you around, talk to your staff, the employers you work with, the partners and also the learners. Mac Cleves, Icon Training's MD was the nominee and he met the challenge well by addressing the inspection priorities and producing a comprehensive programme for inspection.


Originally published in Leisure Management 2012 issue 3

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd