Quest announces exciting changes to support new government strategy

Quest, the sport and leisure industry’s leading quality scheme, has announced a raft of changes aimed at making it even stronger and more relevant, in line with both government and Sport England thinking.
The changes, unveiled at the annual Quest & NBS Conference in Loughborough on 10 February, will be rolled out this autumn and are designed to support Sport England as it works towards the goals of the government’s new strategy on sport.
Caroline Constantine, Quest’s operations director, said: “Quest needs to adapt to changing landscape of the industry and the increasing diversity of facilities and teams participating in the scheme, who will now be challenged even further in order to pass the assessment.”

Key changes include:

• The Quest Facility Management and Quest Sports Development categories are to be rebranded. While the name for Quest Facility Management is only changing marginally to Quest for Facilities, Quest Sports Development will become Quest for Active Communities, to reflect the government and Sport England’s increased emphasis on community and health outcomes.
Paul Brivio, Quest’s sports development manager, said: “We’re not abandoning the concept of Sports Development – we’re going to embed it in Active Communities. We need to update our guidance for the old Sports Development modules, particularly for those that now apply to Facility Management.”

• A newly appointed head of community and wellbeing, Matt Charles, will work to help centres and teams achieve strong community and health outcomes. “We need to put equity and access issues firmly on the agenda, and we need to work closely with the health sector to make sure the guidance we give is fit for purpose,” said Brivio.

• In Quest for Facilities, Programming will become a core day-one module instead of an optional day-two module in the first year of Quest Plus – the two-year assessment cycle completed by the majority of sport and leisure centres that sign up to the scheme. Year one of Quest Plus comprises a mystery visit and a two-day assessment. Operators take eight core modules on day one, plus five modules of their choice on day two.

“Very few centres have picked Programming over the past five years, yet this is absolutely key to getting people into all activity areas of facilities – we so often see empty sport halls during the day,” said Constantine. According to Quest NBS data, less than five per cent of operators undertaking Quest Plus chose Programming in the 2014/2015 assessment cycle.

• Centres will no longer be able to pick only ‘safe’ modules on day two of Quest Plus. In the 2014/2015 cycle, Health and Safety and Swimming Lessons were the most popular options, chosen by 46 per cent and 29 per cent of operators respectively, while NBS was chosen by just 1 per cent (see ‘Quest of the Nation’ infographic). Moving ahead, modules will be grouped under four umbrellas – Engagement, Effectiveness, Fundamentals and Specifics – with operators allowed to select only one from each category plus a fifth of their choice.

• The Directional Review – the one-day assessment in year two which completes the Quest Plus cycle for facilities – will now be unannounced. The centre will only be given a window, not a specific day, when the assessor will be arriving.

• Also new to the Directional Review will be a compulsory NBS Efficiency Survey. “NBS is extremely important for Sport England and the industry to gather data, so we can see where we’re going in terms of effectiveness,” said Constantine. “It’s absolutely fundamental to measure performance.”

• Mystery visits will receive heavier weighting in order to ensure the customer experience is central to passing the assessment.

• A ‘Very Good’ banding is being introduced between ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ in response to popular demand.

• Quest’s toughest assessment, Stretch – which awards ‘Outstanding’ status to centres that have already achieved ‘Excellent’ in Quest Plus – is getting tougher, with assessments now taking place every year as opposed to every other year.

To better support facilities and teams as they go through the process, Quest and NBS will be launching a new and improved website later this year, offering access to online benchmarking and reports.

Further to this, the Quest team will continue to work with external partners. Brivio said: “We want to build on our existing and new partnerships with organisations from the County Sports Partnership Networks to the Premier League, Football League Trust and Sport4Development. The valuable learning these partnerships provide will help us improve the guidance we give to everyone who is Quest-registered.”

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For further information contact:
Rhianon Howells at Big Fish Public Relations
Tel: 01727 834629
Mob: 07967 551142
Editor’s notes:
Quest is the UK quality scheme for sport and leisure. Managed by Right Directions in partnership with Leisure-net Solutions, it is a tool for continuous improvement, designed primarily for the management of leisure facilities and leisure development. Quest defines industry standards and good practice, and encourages their ongoing development and delivery within a customer-focused management framework.
The National Benchmarking Service (NBS) provides critical data on the performance of your leisure facility. Leisure-net Solutions, in partnership with Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University, works on behalf of Sport England to provide a seamless, rigorous and valuable collection and analysis of participation, financial and customer satisfaction data. For more information, visit

Abigail Harris About the author
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