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British Canoeing (BC) Qualifications

Whether you’d like to get a certificate indicating your level of Personal Paddling Proficiency or get qualified to be a Coach or Leader, we can help you on your path through the British Canoeing Qualifications. 

Who Are British Canoeing?

British Canoeing (formally the British Canoe Union or BCU) was established in 1936, is the worlds most renowned and established provider of Paddle Sports Qualifications. You can walk into a Kayak School in Alaska or New Zeland and they will recognise your Certificate. All of our guides are highly qualified BC Coaches and Leaders and we base ALL of our Skills Courses on the learning structure evolved, by British Canoeing, over nearly a century of paddling. 

BC Qualification Structure Explained

There are 3 main sections to the British Canoeing qualifications:

  • Personal Performance
  • Coaching
  • Leadership

These are then further divided into different Disciplines; Sea Kayaking, White Water River Kayaking, Open Canoeing, Paddle Boarding, Surf Kayaking to name but a few. 

We specialise in Sea Kayaking and Paddle Boarding but we can also offer Surf, White Water Kayaking and Open Canoeing. 

More information can be found at British Canoeing, My Pathway.

Receiving Your Qualification

Certificates and Awards are issued by British Canoeing in digital PDF format. If you successfully meet the required criteria for an Award, we will notify British Canoeing and register your details with them. The Start Award is FREE of charge, for higher-level Personal Performance Awards British Canoeing charges a fee of between £6 and £20. These fees are reduced if you become a member of British Canoeing.

Personal Performance Awards – Kayak

British Canoeing’s Personal Performance Awards are the starting point for keen paddlers looking to get Certified and start their British Canoeing journey. In 2018 these awards replaced the BRITISH CANOE UNION (BCU) STAR AWARDS (BCU 1 Star to 5 Star)

There are 6 Levels:

(As a rough guide, a compleat novice can achieve the Start Award on our beginner two-day course and at the other end, the Advanced Sea Kayak award would require most people to train every week for several years) 

BC – Start
BC – Discover
BC – Explore
BC – Sea Kayak
BC – Coastal Sea Kayak
BC – Advanced Sea Kayak

British Canoeing – Start Award

Experience your first session on the water; learning useful skills for an enjoyable paddling experience. It aims to provide you with the basic knowledge to enable you to safely get in and out of your boat, make it move and return to your start point. This is your first step into the world of paddling, ensuring you feel safe, confident and ready to progress to the Discover Award.

There are no prerequisites or age requirements so start your award today! 

This Award is run as part of our Level 1 or Level 2 Skills Courses, click below for information on these courses and to see dates.

British Canoeing – Discover Award

Your Discover Award allows you to develop your decision making and practical skills for a fun and safe time on the water, taking you on the next steps towards becoming a proficient and independent paddler. Learn how to choose and effectively use equipment, whilst developing an understanding of the factors which affect your paddling; giving you the confidence to progress to making your own choices with the Explore Award.

This Award is run as part of our Level 1 or Level 2 Skills Courses, click below for information on these courses and to see dates.

British Canoeing – Explore Award

Your Explore Award gives you ownership; allowing you to choose where you move next in the world of paddlesport. Working with a coach you will be able to develop a programme that suits what you need. Learning to make confident choices with this individualised approach. Recognising your ability to independently paddle your chosen craft in a sheltered water environment. 

We run this award with a 2-day Training followed by a separate Assessment, with the option of doing the Assessment over 1 or 2-days. However, if you are at the required level for this Award, you can receive your certificate as part of our Level 2 Course. 

British Canoeing – Sea Kayak Award

The Sea Kayak Award endorses your skill, judgment and the decision making required for a successful day on the sea. You will be confident in planning and undertaking journeys on the sea, in winds up to and including force 3 and/or tides up to 1 Knot, using sea kayaks or sit on tops, in tidal or non-tidal environments, with proficient skills to be in control throughout. Your award should be seen as a sound basis for building the experience and knowledge associated with Coastal Sea Kayak Award holders.

We run this award with a 2-day Training followed by a separate 1-day Assessment.

British Canoeing – Coastal Sea Kayak Award

Your Coastal Sea Kayak Award endorses your judgment, decision making and expertise and requires a good understanding of paddling on the sea. You should be confident planning and undertaking journeys on the sea in winds up to and including force 4 and/or tides up to 2 Knots, in a sea kayak or specific sit on tops in tidal or non-tidal environments. Your confidence should be based upon both proficiency in skills and a broad appreciation of surroundings and environmental context. Your award should be seen as a sound basis for independently building the experience and expertise we associate with Advanced Sea Kayak Award holders.

We run this award with a 2-day Training followed by a separate 1-day Assessment.

British Canoeing – Advanced Sea Kayak Award

As an Advanced Sea Kayaker, you will have extensive experience of paddling on the sea. Your experience will include paddling a wide variety of sea conditions with winds over force 4 and/or tides over 2 Knots, using sea kayaks in tidal or non-tidal environments, where you may make open crossings in excess of 2Nm, as well as travelling along the coastline.

We run this award with a 2-day Training followed by a separate 1-day Assessment.

Leadership Qualifications

Sea Kayak Leader Training

If you’re looking to lead sea kayakers on a moderate tidal water environment, this two-day training focuses on personal skills and leadership. This emphasises the application of strokes to achieve suitable techniques and boat control in real situations and covers personal paddling skills, rescue skills, safety, leadership and group skills and the theory.

Prerequisites:

  • To be able to get the most out of your training, we would recommend that you can paddle to the standard of the Coastal Sea Kayak Award or 3 Star Sea Kayak. 
  • Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course

Sea Kayak Leader Assessment

To become a Sea Kayak Leader, you will need to successfully complete a two day, mainly practical assessment which takes place on sections on a moderate water tidal environments. This will include assessment of your personal paddling skills, rescue skills, safety, leadership and group skills and the theory. A Sea Kayak Leader should demonstrate the skills and judgement to select appropriate environments for paddlers with a range of experience.

Prerequisites:

  • Sea Kayak Leader training (within 3 years)  
  • Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course 
  • Home Nation Leadership Registration (LR) Form
  • Full Home Nation Association Membership
  • Valid 2 day First Aid training
  • Aged 16 or over

Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning

If you’re a sea kayaker looking to go on coastal journeys, this one day, theory based course gives you the tools to plan and navigate efficiently in a moderate sea environment. On this course, you will interpret sources of information including maps, charts and tide tables, navigate on the water using visual references and simple pilotage techniques, as well as source, interpret and apply a weather forecast for the marine environment.

Coaching Qualifications

Core Coach Training

The two day Core Coach Training is generic and open to all paddlesport coaches at this level. On this practical based course, you will explore different approaches to coaching, understanding and enabling learning, and some core coaching skills. You will also be supported in evolving your personal coaching development plan to enable you to take your learning into practice after the course.

Prerequisites:

  • Full Home Nation Association Membership 

To be able to get the most out of your training, you will need a base level of knowledge about the discipline(s) you wish to coach; this training provides the content of HOW you will be coaching. 

Sea Kayak Coach Training

If you’re looking to coach sea kayaking on moderate water, this two-day training focuses on how to coach the technical and tactical skills for sea kayakers. The course will help you plan and deliver safe, enjoyable, progressive coaching sessions and you’ll explore specifics to help you coach some typical learners relevant to you and the moderate sea environment. 

Prerequisites:

  • Core Coach Training 
  • Sea Kayak Leader
  • Full Home Nation Association Membership 

Sea Kayak Coach Assessment

To become a Sea Kayak Coach, you will need to successfully complete a one day, mainly practical assessment. This will include assessment of your practical coaching and safety and rescue skills; supplemented with professional discussion and questioning. 

Prerequisites:

  • Core Coach Training  
  • Sea Kayak Coach Training
  • Sea Kayak Leader
  • Coach Award eLearning
  • Assessment Check In

Evidence of minimum standards of deployment:

  • Valid 2 day First Aid Training
  • Safeguarding Training
  • Full Home Nation Association Membership
  • Aged 16 or over at the time of assessment 

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