Coaching & CPD

The SOA is dedicated to providing top quality, practical outdoor coaching for orienteers, as well as coach education for those who wish to become coaches themselves.

We also run the Star Awards scheme, for coaches to support people of all ages who wish to improve their orienteering. It is focused on skills improvement rather than results and competing.

Scottish Qualifications in Coaching Orienteering

We offer three levels of coach qualification, awarded by the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority), all taught and assessed by appropriately qualified professionals, and subject to the rigorous standardisation processes of the SQA.

For all levels, coaches’ competence covers planning, delivering and reviewing of coaching; for Level 1 the focus is on a single session, for Level 2 a series of sessions, and for Level 3 a season or year. There is no restriction on the level of “technical difficulty” (TD) at which a coach can operate, except that they must always be working within their own technical competence. Higher coaching qualifications reflect greater knowledge and skill as a coach; we might have expert coaches of beginners and novice coaches of elites.

We encourage every club in Scotland to have at least one active qualified coach, and, if possible, a small team of coaches led by one Level 2 or above coach, with support provided by Level 1 coaches and/or people who have attended the Coaching Foundation course.

The focus of all our courses is on very practical outdoor coaching.

View our range of coaching courses

Coaching Foundation (CF)

The Coaching Foundation (CF) is a one-day introduction to coaching; there is no assessment. The content of CF is a sub-set of the UKCC Level 1 (now called SQA Level 1) training. Most learners go on to complete SQA Level 1 after doing CF, though some take the fast-track route to Level 2 (UKCC Level 2), which requires some written tasks to be completed before the person is accepted onto the course (RPL – Recognition of Prior Learning).

CF courses are held throughout Scotland, approximately 6 to 8 times a year.

CF is open to Scottish members, while full British Orienteering membership is required for the SQA Levels qualifications.

Level 1 (Session Coach)

Level 1 is an introductory coaching role, with coaches delivering sessions which are appropriate for their level of coaching knowledge. The focus of the Level 1 coach is the single session, usually progressing a skill within the session.

Training for Level 1 comprises some independent learning before the tuition and assessment. Most Level 1 courses assume learners have completed CF, in which case the tuition and assessment are completed over 2 days, usually a weekend. Occasionally a 3-day course is arranged, covering the full tuition, practice and assessment, as well as the independent learning beforehand.

Level 1 coaches are qualified to coach in lower risk areas, types A and B in the British Orienteering area classification.

Pre-requisites for Level 1

  • Recent evidence of competence at TD4 (Light Green) or above before assessment at Level 1. This is usually by means of a competition result.
  • Age at least 17 at time of final assessment
  • Current member of British Orienteering

Level 2 (Club Coach)

The Level 2 coach often works alone or co-ordinating a small coaching team, usually within a club or a small cluster of clubs. A Level 2 coach can focus on a series of coaching sessions, often working towards a particular event. They understand about progressing skills from one session to the next, using different areas and refinements to make each session useful to a range of participants.

A Level 2 coach might mentor someone working towards that qualification.

Level 2 coaches are qualified to coach on type C areas, and can undertake a short workshop on “Coaching Safely in Remote Areas” to allow them to coach in areas which would otherwise require a Level 3 qualification.

The Level 2 course involves some independent learning and practical tasks before and after the tuition element, some logged experience (with mentor), one assessment session soon after the tuition, and the final assessment when all other tasks have been completed. Learners have up to 2 years from the start of tuition to complete the qualification.

Pre-requisites for Level 2

  • Recent evidence of competence at TD5 (e.g. Green, Blue) before their final assessment. As for Level 1, this is usually in the form of a competition result.
  • UKCC Level 1 orienteering coach qualification or equivalent, or completion of RPL for approved candidates
  • Current member of British Orienteering

Level 3 (Lead Coach)

In addition to the role described for Level 2, the Level 3 coach might also work with individual athletes competing at or aspiring to top competitive levels. At this level the coach often takes on the role of guide and mentor to the athlete; he/she tends to help the athlete to analyse performances, set up useful practices and help with lifestyle and psychological aspects of the sport. Level 3 coaches are also qualified to organise extended training camps, overseeing a group of athletes away from home as well as managing a coaching team and other adult helpers.

The format for Level 3 is similar to Level 2: some independent learning and practical tasks before and after the tuition element, some logged experience (with mentor), one assessment session soon after the tuition, and the final assessment when all other tasks have been completed. Learners have up to 2 years from the start of tuition to complete the qualification.

Pre-requisites for Level 3

  • Familiarity with high level competitive orienteering (not necessarily as competitor)
  • UKCC Level 2 orienteering coach qualification or equivalent
  • Current member of British Orienteering

Course fees are shown on the SOA’s Course Schedulesportscotland currently offer subsidies to people undertaking coach qualifications. Details are on their website or available from the SOA Education Manager.

The qualification pathway is summarised in the associated diagram:

Coaching Qualification, Licensing and CPD

Scottish Orienteering (SOA), in conjunction with British Orienteering (BOF), run a coach licensing scheme to ensure that coaches are covered by British Orienteering’s insurance and give the club and participants the reassurance that the coach has shown commitment to best practice. As SOA remains under the insurance of BOF, we adhere to similar expectations for coaches to be licensed.

To be a licensed coach you must have:

  • A Coaching qualification (which does not lapse or expire)
  • Signed the coaches’ Code of Conduct and sent this to BOF
  • Current SOA/BOF membership. SOA membership only will not cover insurance for a coach
  • A valid PVG check
  • Valid and up to date First Aid qualifications as explained here:
    • in the case of Level 1-2, a current First Aid qualification that is appropriate to the areas and environments the coaching will be delivered. This will be no less than a 1 Day Emergency, Outdoor or Basic First Aid course. Outdoor First Aid is the preference.
    • in the case of Level 3 and above, a current First Aid qualification that is no less than a 2-day Outdoor First aid course unless the coach is re-certifying and a 2-day Outdoor First qualification was previously held, or the coach can adequately confirm that no coaching is done outside the areas A, B and C (reference then a  1-day course is adequate.
    • Medical professionals (GP’s, A&E) are not required to attend a first aid course. Instead, proof of professional qualifications must be sent to British Orienteering and the SOA.
  • Kept up to date with the latest CPD (Continual Personal Development), including completing the online Module 1 of Sport Scotland’s Safeguarding Training, available via Please inform Denise Martin – – when you have completed the online Module 1; you do not need to complete Module 2, which is a workshop.

For documents, logs, activities and forms, view all Coaching resources.

If you have any suggestions for how coaching and qualifications could be improved, please contact Denise Martin via

Click here for more details of all the courses we run. Some are by request so please do be in touch if you’re interested:


The SOA employs a great bunch of people who are all qualified coaches and qualified tutors.

Helen & Tim O’Donoghue

Helen and Tim O'Donoghue
Coaching Co-ordinator

Anne Hickling

Anne Hickling
Chair of the Board & Development Director

Fran Loots

Fran Loots
Regional Development Officer (West)

Sarah Dunn

Sarah Dunn
Development Manager and RDO (North)

For any queries on tutors or courses, or if you’re interested in becoming a tutor, please contact us.