WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY

Introduction

This document outlines Northern Training Academy’s policy and procedure for how an individual can confidentially and anonymously report concerns to NTA regarding the delivery of regulated qualifications and ESFA funded apprenticeships.

 

The intended audience of this document is:  

 

  • NTA staff 

  • All staff of employers associated with NTA apprenticeship provision

  • Learners registered on qualifications

  • Apprentices 

  • Members of the public who suspect malpractice or maladministration is taking place, or has taken place within NTA.

 

Purpose 

The purpose of this document is to: 

 

  1. Outline in which instances an individual should inform NTA of an allegation.

  2. Outline how an individual can confidentially report suspected malpractice or maladministration to NTA.

  3. Outline how NTA will protect the interests and confidentiality of whistleblowers, wherever this is possible. 

  4. Inform an individual how NTA will respond to a whistleblowing allegation. 

 

This policy is not applicable to individuals who wish to complain about a service provided by NTA. If an individual wishes to complain about a service provided by NTA, they should refer to the NTA Complaints Policy. 

 

Policy  

Whistleblowing is a term used to describe when an individual discloses concerns or information relating to potential malpractice or maladministration. Malpractice or maladministration can be committed by a Centre staff member, a learner, an employer or another third party.   

 

If an individual has concerns regarding the practices of an NTA, a staff member or a Learner, they must first assess whether it would be appropriate to first report the concern to NTA itself. If concerns are raised to NTA and you are not satisfied that the concerns  have been adequately investigated, or, that the issue is still occurring, you may wish to notify the awarding organisations, end point assessment organisations or ESFA directly and provide details of the action already taken. 

 

There are a range of concerns that an individual may wish to be raise under the External Whistleblowing Policy, including, but not limited to: 

 

  1. An individual suspects that NTA, an NTA staff member or a learner has committed, or is complicit with an instance of malpractice.  

  2. An individual suspects that NTA is not compliant with the Awarding Organisation, End Point Assessment Organisation or ESFA Approval Criteria. 

  3. An individual suspects that NTA, an NTA staff member or a learner is involved in fraud or other illegal activity regarding qualifications or apprenticeships. 

  4. An individual has been asked, or forced, to perform an activity that they believe constitutes as malpractice. 

 

Allegations which do not count as Whistleblowing:

 

It is important to note that personal grievances (for example bullying, harassment and discrimination) or dissatisfaction with the service received at NTA(such as concerns regarding fees or contractual disputes) are not covered by this policy. If an individual has a concern of this type, they should follow the NTA complaints policy or grievance procedure. 

 

Whistleblowing does not apply to a learner making an appeal against NTA or an assessment decision. NTA has an Appeals Policy.

 

Individuals must refrain from making unwarranted allegations to NTA (i.e. if an individual does not believe their allegation to be true). If an allegation was not confirmed by an NTA investigation to hold any validity however the individual who has made the allegation had reason to believe it was true no action will be taken against the individual. If, however, allegations are made by staff are deemed malicious or unfounded, NTA may apply Sanctions against the individual or take legal action.

 

Confidentiality : 

NTA take all whistleblowing allegations seriously and will investigate disclosures in a sensitive and discreet manner.  Individuals who make disclosures can have their identity kept confidential upon request. NTA understands the importance of confidentiality for whistleblowers and, where it has been requested, will aim to protect an individual’s anonymity, however this cannot be guaranteed.   

 

It is important to note that NTA may not be able to investigate a concern as effectively if an allegation is made to NTA anonymously. NTA encourages individuals to provide their name and contact details when raising their allegation, as we may need to contact the individual raising the concern for further information, or, to verify details provided throughout an investigation. 

 

There may be instances where NTA must reveal an individual’s details, such as, if required to do so by law. Once an investigation into the allegations commences, individuals should also consider that they may be identifiable due to the nature, or content of, their allegations.

 

Procedure  

Identifying Malpractice:

In the first instance, where an individual suspects malpractice, they must first report it to the NTA Quality and Curriculum Manager, where it is appropriate to do so. NTA will investigate and respond to all concerns, as well as reporting all cases of suspected malpractice to the relevant external body.

 

NTA understands that it may not always be appropriate for an individual to report a concern directly to us. In these cases, individuals should raise their concerns directly with the external body for their investigation. Examples where this may be applicable include, but may not be limited to: 

 

  1. The individual(s) who handles incidents of malpractice within NTA is involved, or may be complicit, with the incident. 

  2. The individual raising the concern believes that they may be victimised by raising their concerns to NTA or an individual. 

  3. The individual raising the concern believes that the NTA internal policy for dealing with cases of malpractice or maladministration is not being, or may not be followed. 

  4. The individual raising the concern believes that once the incident has been reported it will not be dealt with correctly and/or may be covered up by NTA or the individual involved.  

 

Making an Allegation to NTA

If an individual wishes to raise an allegation of malpractice to NTA, they must contact the Quality and Curriculum Manager by either email, telephone or by letter. The contact details can be found on the website. NTA would encourage an individual to notify NTA of their concerns as soon as possible, to minimise the loss of information over time and to make it easier for NTA to investigate the allegation.  

 

If an allegation is made by telephone, individuals may be asked to produce a written statement as supporting evidence. The name of the individual will be redacted from statements, upon the individual’s request.

 

Although whistleblowers are not expected to prove an allegation, they will need to demonstrate that there is sufficient grounds for their concerns in order for NTA to investigate. Therefore, whistleblowers should aim to provide as much information as possible regarding their concern. This includes, but is not limited to: 

 

  1. The background and history to the allegation. 

  2. Any specific details available including names, dates, times and places. 

  3. Details of any evidence which supports the concern.

  4. Full details of the allegations, including the NTA provision which is involved.

  5. The individual’s involvement, response and any personal interest they may have in the matter (if applicable). 

  6. How they think that things may be put right, if possible. 

 

If, following receipt of an allegation, it is identified that the allegation was against an employer with whom NTA works, the allegation will be passed onto the employer, who will follow their own whistleblowing procedure. 

 

How NTA Will Respond  

Once an allegation is made, the Quality and Curriculum Manager will contact the individual who made the allegation within 5 working days to: 

 

  1. Confirm that the allegation has been received.

  2. Indicate whether or not NTA will be investigating the matter or not.

  3. Request any further information which is required from the individual regarding the matter. 

 

Initial enquires will be made to decide whether the allegation requires an investigation, and if so, in what form. If an investigation is required, the Quality and Curriculum Manager will conduct this in line with the NTA Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.  NTA Managing Director will be notified of all allegations received.

 

Although NTA are able to confirm whether an investigation is open or closed to the whistleblower, NTA are not required to release the outcomes of its investigations to individuals who raise allegations. 

 

In cases of proven malpractice, NTA will notify the relevant Awarding Organisation, End Point Assessment Organisation or Funding Bodies of the instigation and outcomes of NTA’s investigation.