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By Nicola Smith, Smartpets School of Dog Grooming, Bangor, Northern Ireland

Well, here we go again about the much talked about subject of qualifications. As the first approved centre in Ireland to offer the NVQ Dog Grooming qualification, I thought I would write and let Groomers, etc. know about the changes and also have a moan!!

When the NVQ Level 2 Grooming Assistant Qualification came out, just over 2 years ago, I thought great. Now Groomers, especially my new trainees could work towards something whilst studying towards the City and Guilds. The dog grooming assistant qualification gave them something and for me, as an Employer, I thought "Brilliant, now maybe I will be able to get a qualified grooming assistant."

Now the NVQ have done away with the award. Instead of a dog grooming assistant qualification, candidates now have to take the animal care award with the dog grooming unit, Prepare and Groom Dogs, as part of this. The new Level 3 NVQ which was supposed to be for full professional Groomer status is also now part of the animal care award. So, instead of a Dog Grooming Certificate, Groomers who complete the award will have a Small Animal Care Certificate with a Grooming Unit Credit as part of the award.

So what do these National Vocational Qualifications involve, I hear you ask?

Candidates have to build a portfolio of evidence, e.g. photographs of them completing tasks, workbooks of questions and projects to cover different knowledge specification within a particular unit. They must also be assessed by an NVQ Assessor while carrying out certain tasks, e.g. preparing a wool coated breed for finish styling by a professional Groomer. The candidate would be expected to brush out, remove knots and tangles prior to bathing. Complete ear, nail and anal gland care, as necessary. Bath/condition the dog, blast, dry and fluff dry the coat. On successful completion of all the performance areas and the portfolio of evidence for each unit, candidates would be awarded a unit credit. On successful completion of the number of units within a qualification, e.g. Animal Care, they would be awarded the full qualification. A unit credit such as Prepare and Groom Dogs, stands as occupational skills within a particular area, for those who do not want to complete a full award.

The NVQ Level 3 for Professional Groomer Status, now what’s involved in that?

Again a portfolio of evidence is built up to show that the candidate understands the different techniques and styles to be used on different breeds and coat types. For the performance part of this award, candidates have to be observed by the Assessor grooming each of the different coat types, using different techniques, e.g. clipping/scissoring and hand stripping (although, hand stripping is not essential). They must be able to demonstrate the different head shapes, i.e. round heads, dogs with divided eyebrows or face falls, etc. The relevant body shapes, i.e. Schnauzer leg shape, normal Westie trim. On successful completion of each of the different breed shapes and styles, they would be awarded the unit credit, Plan and carry out Styling and Finishing of Dogs

The NVQs can only be taken at accredited training and assessment centres, i.e. those approved by Qualifications For Industry.

For the full Small Animal Care Certificate, students have to complete the following in which they have up to 24 months to do so. A trainee can start off doing all the Animal Care Units and after 3 to 4 months they should be able to complete the Unit Credit Prepare and Groom Dogs, the equivalent to a Dog Grooming Assistant. After a further 24 months training they should be at the stage to take the other grooming unit Plan and Carry out Styling and Finishing of Dogs. I feel this award is good for continuous assessment over 24 months to become a professional Groomer and candidates can carry out the assessment and work at their own pace, either at their own workplace or during normal duties or training at a training centre. Therefore, they do not have the pre-exam nerves as with the City & Guilds examinations.

To complete the full Animal Care award candidates must complete ALL of the following units:

bulletPlan, Monitor and Evaluate the Accommodation of Animals
bulletPromote and Maintain the Health and Wellbeing of Animals
bulletControl and Restrain Animals
bulletEnsure your own actions reduce risks to Health and Safety
bulletEstablish and Maintain Animals within their Accommodation

Candidates must also achieve one of the following units:

Implement and monitor plans for the health and well being of animals

Investigate reported nuisance, abuse or harm of Animals

Advise on and place stray or unwanted animals in new home environments

Plan, monitor and evaluate the establishment and management of animal populations

Determine, monitor and evaluate policies for the management of animals

Plan and monitor animal diets and feeding regimes

Plan, monitor and evaluate the transportation of animals

Enable mammals to reproduce and care for their young

Maintain the health and well being of animals during transportation

Give information to individuals & groups on how to promote the health of animals & interpret their behaviour

Contribute to the management of aggressive and abusive behaviour of people

Prepare and Groom Dogs

Plan and carry out Styling and Finishing of Dogs

Assist in the sale of medicines and treatments for the care of animals

Advise customers to optimise choice and benefits

Evaluate and monitor receipt of payment from customers for the purchase of goods and services

Organise the receipt and storage of goods

Maintain availability of goods for sale to customers

Contribute to improvements at work

Design and implement basic discipline training programmes for animals

Train animals for specific objectives

Train animals and people to work together as one

Implement integrated training programmes for individuals and animals to realise their agreed outcomes

Handle and care for animals to enable them to work efficiently

As you can see there is a wide range of choices, not only in grooming. I think this award is good in the sense that those that work in Boarding Kennels and also groom, can gain a full qualification by choosing the relevant units to suit. It is a worthwhile award to think about and you can complete all of the units if you like.

I hope this has given you all an insight into NVQs. No-one seems to have written or said much about them, only the City and Guilds. I’m sure you will all forward your comments or queries to Northern Groomers on this much heated matter of qualifications!

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Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Northern Groomers.

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Copyright 2000 Northern Groomers
Last modified: November 05, 2000