Window Cleaning Issues - Canvassing, pole systems, pricing, problems, etc.

The British Window Cleaning Academy
Posted by Craig_Mawlam (Craig_Mawlam), 9 March 2004
Dear Cleanitup Members,

I’d like to take this opportunity to formally introduce the BWCA to this forum. My name is Craig Mawlam and I am the Internal Verifier for The British Window Cleaning Academy, an accredited City & Guilds NVQ Centre. The BWCA was established in 1997 to offer the Level 2 NVQ: Cleaning Windows Glass and Façade Surfaces (7696).

As well as offering the NVQ, the BWCA offers a number of stand-alone courses in support of the NVQ. Certification gained from attending these BWCA courses can be used to demonstrate competence for various units of the NVQ.

Each of the BWCA’s instructors hold City & Guilds training qualifications, but the most important factor in delivering quality training is the long term “hands on” window cleaning experience that they have gained over forty years.

Although the NVQ has failed to attract large numbers of Window Cleaners, several hundred Window Cleaners gained BWCA certification for the various stand-alone courses offered by the BWCA. Despite its success BWCA courses were phased out a couple of years ago due to the demand for space to produce the Reach & Wash System. The re-emergence of the BWCA at this time is prompted by Ionic Systems move to new 22,000 sq ft premises in Swindon and new HSE Guidance notes for the safe use of Waterfed Poles due to be published later this year. Another factor driving the need for appropriate trade training for Window Cleaners at this time is the sharp increase in insurance premiums. Increasingly insurers are asking for details of training certificates held by window cleaning staff.

BWCA Literature is available and I am on hand to answer any telephone enquiries on the subject. Courses are booking up fast, therefore if you are interested in attending courses and obtaining BWCA certification I would encourage you to book early!

Best regards

Craig Mawlam
Internal Verifier
0800 146133

Posted by williamx (williamx), 9 March 2004
Could you give prices to the courses and would I be able to gain discounts from Insurance Companys regarding public & employer liabilty Kiss
Posted by BeeClean (BeeClean), 9 March 2004
william i think youll find that all insurance companies will start to penalise people that dont have formal training. i dont think it will be a case of getting discounts but actually getting any cover at all (maybe thats the same thing anyway) Huh
Posted by Craig_Mawlam (Craig_Mawlam), 10 March 2004
In addition to the NVQ, The British Window Cleaning Academy offers four additional stand alone courses;

1)      Window Cleaning Skills Course
2)      Getting the best from Waterfed Poles
3)      Health & Safety for Window Cleaners
4)      Marketing a Window Cleaning Business

1&2 and 3&4 are run on consecutive days but can be booked separately all courses are 1day duration. All BWCA courses have a high practical content and the theory elements are delivered in an easy to understand and entertaining manner. A break down of course content is included in the literature pack that can be obtained by calling 0800 146133.

The courses are priced at £95 + vat per candidate and a 10% is available for groups of three or more. Lunch, course handouts, and the certificate of achievement are included in the cost.

Best regards

Craig Mawlam
Internal Verifier

Posted by The_Fed_Man (The_Fed_Man), 10 March 2004
Glad to see their re-emergence Craig.

After the training has taken place, do you offer any written point of reference for the employee and employer so that training in the manner taught can be measured?
Posted by steve-mark (steve-mark), 10 March 2004
Hi Craig,
Could you please tell me where these courses are held Huh Huh?
I live in Taunton, Somerset and have my own Co, I have been in the cleaning industry for about 10 yrs but never got any certs, it may be a good idea for me to attend a course. Smiley

Tone Clean

Posted by poleman (PoleMan), 10 March 2004
Hi Craig

the courses sound a good move for the WFP industry and will be looking into this my self if only for the practical use of WFPs.

I have heard of the BWCA that was many years ago, has BWCA all ways be own by ionic! if not was this a recent merger from IONIC systems limited.

i have been on many courses in my time and most but not all market there own produces on premises, would this be the case with ionic!



fed member
Posted by Craig_Mawlam (Craig_Mawlam), 11 March 2004

The courses will be held at new premises in Swindon, just off jnc 15 of the M4.


The Window Cleaning NVQ is a nationally recognised qualification, each of the BWCA courses are designed to provide supplementary evidence to support various units of the NVQ. The certificates of achievement that are awarded to candidate’s reference course syllabus and in turn NVQ units of competence.


Ionic systems does not own the BWCA, the BWCA is a separate legal entity. In line with its commitment to the Window Cleaning industry Ionic systems sponsors the BWCA by providing facilities within its premises. All BWCA training is skills based and not product orientated, equipment used during practical elements of the training includes tools from former sponsors Ettore and Unger in recognition of their past support. Letters will be sent to other leading manufacturers in the near future asking for sponsorship support, in the event that they accept you can expect to see their products used during the appropriate practical elements of the training.

best regards

Craig Mawlam
Internal Verifier
0800 146133

Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson), 11 March 2004
Ionic systems does not own the BWCA, the BWCA is a separate legal entity. In line with its commitment to the Window Cleaning industry Ionic systems sponsors the BWCA by providing facilities within its premises

But, doesnt it have the same directors, and the same registered office?  I would bet the shareholders are the same as well.  So, although legally Ionic do not own it, substantially they do, do they not?

I think its misleading to say that Ionic "sponsor" the BWCA as it quite clearly is an Ionic creation.  Not of course that would make it any the worse, as Ionic is an industry leader.  But please, lets not pretend that Ionic, out of the kindness of their hearts (or because they are so committed to helping us poor window cleaners) have given support to an academic institution whose only function is education.  If that were true, the BWCA would be a non-profit making organization, run by a trust for example, not a private limited company.

I am not for a moment pulling down the BWCA, I'm sure the training is of an excellent standard.  Actually I am considering attending some of the courses myself.  But lets be honest and open about how it came to be, and its relationship with Ionic.

Posted by The_Fed_Man (The_Fed_Man), 11 March 2004
Sorry Craig I'll rephrase that.

Your one day skills course.  What I mean is, training is an ongoing thing,  after you have trained a new man for one day, that will not make him an expert window cleaner (if only it were that easy). How can the employer take what you have shown him, measure his progress and retrain him as necessary. Do you provide a manual or checklist?
Posted by Craig_Mawlam (Craig_Mawlam), 12 March 2004
As I have said, Ionic does not own the BWCA. Ionic Systems Ltd came about as recently as September last year, The BWCA however became an accredited NVQ Centre in 1997, the project to launch the NVQ centre having been commenced in 1996. Past sponsor Ettore’s tools continue to be used within the 1 day skills course as do those of Unger who also offered support.

The BWCA is a vehicle to provide training to the nationally recognised NVQ standard, the NFMWGC invested much time and members money assisting in the development of the NVQ. The majority of the syllabus has nothing to do with equipment what so ever.

From a personal perspective, I have been a Window Cleaner since 1985 when I left the RAF. My first customer was my next-door neighbour. At the height of the residential phase of by career, by business “The Window Man” cleaned over 2,000 houses each month. My business changed its name to “Over The Top” in 1991 to reflect its move into Hi-rise Abseiling window cleaning, my first abseiling contract was in 1987 long before IRATA were formed. Through the Nineties I became involved with the IWCA and served on the board of directors. I first became involved in manufacturing in 1995 when my company launched a range of temporary anchorage equipment tested to BS EN 795 standard, training in the safe use of this equipment was an essential feature at that time hence the natural progression to achieving NVQ status. The success that The Reach & Wash system has brought has become the pinnacle of my Window Cleaning career so far, many laughed when in 1997 I launched the system and heralded it as the “future” of window cleaning.

The Window Cleaning industry and my place within it is my life, this has been a career in an industry that has given me so much. The British Window Cleaning Academy is an achievement that I am proud of, becoming an NVQ centre and earning the right to use the word “British” in the title took dedication and a huge investment of time and money. The BWCA has yet to turn a profit, for me the satisfaction comes from being in a position to pass on my learning and experience and to give something back to the industry that I love.

I look forward to welcoming you on a course.

Yes there is a training manual for the Window Cleaning Skills course. Every new window cleaner that ever attended left able to clean windows properly. As an employer you will recognise someone with the appropriate skills instantly. When you employ a non-experianced person you take the risk that they may leave within just a few weeks, yet you would have invested much time in teaching them. If you think about the cost to you then training will prove less expensive and may weed out people unsuited to the trade before any wages are even paid. You could even have them pay for the course as a condition of employment with a promise from you to repay the training fee after 6 or 12 months service.

If you take on experianced staff then you will undoubtedly have someone with a mix of skills and bad habits, if you send them on the course they will no longer have any excuse for those bad habits and the costly mistakes they may lead too.

Best regards

Craig Mawlam
Internal Verifier
0800 146133

Posted by riz (riz), 12 March 2004
Very informative. You cant moan about having not made a profit yet if you inspired reach and wash!!! im about to buy a system (maybe) there's some profit there!!!

Good luck

Posted by poleman (PoleMan), 11 April 2004
well iam all booked up but with no dates given by IONIC Huh any one in the same boat as me, they have taken my money weeks agoHuh


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