Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Suzie Bulbeck, Founder and
Riverside Training’s
head office
It has been a volatile 12 months for training and apprenticeship
providers, and Suzie Bulbeck recognises that her company,
Riverside Training, have not been immune from the adverse
factors affecting the sector. As a specialist training company,
they offer a wide range of courses in childcare, education,
health and social care, business administration, customer service
and management. Suzie talks to the
about Riverside’s
journey and the issues that the government’s apprenticeship
initiative has presented.
Since we started delivering apprenticeships ten years ago, they have continued
to comprise a vast majority of our offering. In the past decade, we have delivered
more than 1,500 apprenticeships, and our achievement rate is 82 per cent – far
exceeding the national education and training apprenticeship achievement rate of
76.5 per cent in 2016/17.
Like many others in our sector, we have had our ups and downs, but we have
nonetheless remained buoyant and successful.
Our success with Spalding Primary
We have worked with Lincolnshire-based Spalding Primary School since September
2012. We enjoy an excellent working relationship, and our partnership has seen a
100 per cent success rate for the 26 apprentices employed by the school over the
past six years.
»Founder and Director:
»Established in 2006
»Based in Spalding, Lincolnshire
»Services: Specialist training
»Matrix Standard-accredited
»In CACHE’s 2017 inspection,
we were awarded a status of
“full adherence”
»Active member of the
Association of Employment
and Learning Providers and
National Early Years Trainers
and Consultants
Riverside Training
(Spalding) Ltd
All are initially enrolled on the CACHE
Level 3 Supporting Teaching and
Learning course, with some going on
to study further qualifications focusing
on supporting and communicating
with young children. We also intend
to develop their skills further with
the new Level 4 Certificate for the
Advanced Practitioner in Schools and
Colleges. One apprentice has even
started his teaching degree.
Matthew Cooling, Spalding Primary
School’s business manager, praised our
work: “We have found the support
provided by Riverside Training to
motivate our apprentices is second to
none. Expectations are clearly set out
at the start of the course while off-
the-job learning also reinforces what
apprentices learn in the classroom. A
structured programme keeps them
on-task to ensure they complete work
within the specified period. Additional
support is always provided for students
if the need should arise.”
The apprenticeship levy and
tender issues
Recently, the government introduced
changes to the way apprenticeships
are funded in its drive to train three
million new apprentices by 2020. We
successfully tendered to become an
apprenticeship levy main provider.
This meant that we would deliver
apprenticeship training for employers
with a total wage bill of over
£3million, who would pay a 0.5 per
cent “levy” to fund training.
Consequently, we have been listed
on the register of apprenticeship
training providers, having undergone
the Education and Skills Funding
Agency’s application process. This
took into account our due diligence,
capability, quality and financial health
in order to appropriately determine
our capability to deliver high-quality
The tender process for a slice of the
mammoth £650 million apprenticeship
funding allocation, however, was
beyond frustrating. This was necessary
if we were to work with non-levy
employers – those with an annual
wage bill of less than £3 million whose
apprenticeships are jointly funded by
themselves and the government under
The process tied up many, many staff
hours in time-consuming and complex
form-filling. The extended delay in
Riverside Training
Since we
ten years ago,
they have
continued to
comprise a vast
majority of our
Highlighting best practice
announcing the tender result meant
that we were unable to operate day to
day with confidence – let alone plan
for the future.
Eventually, we were told that our
application had been unsuccessful.
This outcome was both unexpected
and potentially disastrous – we were
not sure that we could survive on the
income generated from levy payers
and our other courses alone.
Transformation in the face of
Facing an uncertain future, we decided
that it was essential to re-evaluate our
model. We had always specialised in
early years and childcare training, but it
became apparent that we had to think
beyond those parameters to secure our
own longevity.
The need to offer and maintain high-
quality training provision was the
underlying ethos on which our business
was founded. We knew we could not
compromise in this area. Our action
plan took a multi-pronged strategy.
Firstly, we approached Laser Learning
with the intention of expanding our
offering with online short courses. This
was a major investment; purchasing
the e-learning platform and courses
upfront was by no means cheap.
We also sourced levy-paying employers
and tendered to be included on their
Approved Apprenticeship Training
Provider List, which now enables us to
tender for individual apprenticeships.
We have also been added to similar
registers by Norfolk and Lincolnshire
County Councils. We also successfully
tendered to be included on the Diocese
of Norwich Education and Academies
Trust’s list, for whom we are already
delivering an apprenticeship.
Expanding our portfolio of qualifications
to include accountancy and digital
marketing apprenticeships was another
step in the right direction. The former is
being delivered by a specialist trainer, and
we are now accredited by The Institute
of Certified Bookkeepers. For the latter,
after identifying pre-existing digital
marketing excellence in the business,
we secured certification through
Futurequals and began offering courses.
Additionally, we have successfully
tendered through Calderdale College,
Halifax, to deliver Skills Support for the
Workforce programmes inLincolnshire.
After recognising the success of our
robust subcontracting arrangement
in place with Chiltern Training as a
supporting provider, we sought a second
partnership. We now work closely with
Enable, a voluntary and community
sector learning and skills consortium
that serves the East Midlands. These
two relationships enable us to deliver
non-levy apprenticeships to SMEs.
Our journey has not been an easy
one, and we are well aware that
it isn’t over yet. There are more
avenues for diversification that we
wish to investigate to ensure further
prosperity and success in an otherwise
difficult sector. Nonetheless, I am
now confident that we have a firm
foundation from which to continue,
and I look to the future with hope.
Facing an
future, we
decided that it
was essential
to re-evaluate
our model
We offer courses across
a broad range of areas


This article was sponsored by Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister