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NCBA Training and Assessment

by Derek Stansfield

For boats carrying more than twelve passengers there is statutory legislation in place enforcing the required qualifications and experience to skipper the boat. More details on this requirement can be found at

For boats carrying twelve passengers or less there is guidance within the MCA publication Inland Waterways Small Passenger Boat Code (SPBC), which can be enforced at the discretion of the local MCA officer. In this guidance there is a raft of governing body qualifications that MCA recognise as being competent to skipper a boat. One of these, the Certificate in Community Boat Management (CCBM) fits into the overall training and qualifications structure of the National Community Boats Association (NCBA).

The NCBA is arguable the only body that provides a progressive training and assessment structure for the management of a community boat from the crew right through to the Trainer/Assessor. An over view of these awards is shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1.

The Community Crew Course (CCC) offers the skills and knowledge to act as crew on a community boat. No previous experience is needed. It is seen as a way of people beginning to enjoy canals and boats and to build both boating and life skills. It is delivered through an NCBA Accredited Training Centre (ATC) and as such is supervised by a NCBA Trainer
On successful completion a NCBA certificate is issued. CCC certificates do not need to be renewed.

The Boat Handling Course (BHC) is comparable to the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Course and is a way for people to learn sufficient boating skills for them to be able to take a private boat out in ordinary conditions or to helm a community boat under a qualified Skipper.

On successful completion of the course a certificate is issued. BHC certificates are not subject to renewal and are valid only for the waters where the course was taught.

The Certificate in Community Boat Management (CCBM) is comparable to the Boat Master Tier 2 award. The CCBM is the last in the set of three courses. The certificate qualifies a person under MCA regulations, to captain/skipper a community boat carrying no more than twelve passengers on the majority of inland waterways. It will also prepare one as to what to find out and do before captaining/skippering in an unfamiliar situation.

On successful completion of the course a certificate is issued. CCBM certificates are valid for five years after which they need revalidation. Revalidation is achieved through an ATC and refresher training has to be evidenced.

The NCBA suite of courses is delivered by Accredited Training Centres which are monitored and supported to maintain the standards set in the NCBA regulations. Courses are moderated by visits from a senior trainer to establish that content and teaching standards are met.
The Trainers’ Course (TC) is the only course run directly by the NCBA.

The course combines learning with continuous assessment. The aim is to qualify candidates, to run a range of NCBA courses and assessments effectively. The course has four units:

1. Course organisation
2. Preparation
3. Teaching subject matter
4. Teaching practical skills
Trainers have to re register annually and attend a one day refresher course after five years

The National Training Committee and moderation of Accredited Training Centres

The whole process of training and assessment is overseen by the National Training Committee, all of whom are designated as Senior Trainers. All Senior Trainers are selected through an interview, induction and training process. Members of the NTC also undertake the role of moderating ATCs.

Further information on any of the NCBA courses and membership can be obtained from the Administrator at and information on the centres providing courses can be found on the NCBA website at

(Derek Stansfield is the Director of Training for the NCBA. A former holder of the RYA/DOT Yachtmaster award and the Cruising Instructors Award he was also a provider of RYA Shorebased courses. Formerly Manager of Cumbria Outdoors he has recently retired as a Senior Inspector with the Adventure Activities Licensing Service.)

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