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I’ve been considering how we structure assessment from time to time through this development process. I quite like some aspects of competency-based assessment, but don’t think it motivates students to excel. So after consultation with Diane Begg (head of school), Robyn Hogan (academic quality), Irene Hundleby and Karole Hogarth (academic staff) I’ve come up with a model that I think maintains the best parts of competency based assessment, while also encouraging engagement.

Practical assessment

Formative competency-based assessment in the earlier part of each course feeding into a summative integrative assessment.  Competency for summative assessment = 80%.

Theoretical assessment

Summative assessment of individual modules.  Competency for these assessments = 80%.  An integration paper at the end of each programme brings together all strands of their learning.  Total marks are aggregated into a weighted overall theoretical mark.

Competency and Excellence

If students do not attain competency (80%), they are allowed to resubmit / resit their assessment once.  Any student who attains competency on resubmission is given a mark of 80%.

Students must complete all components of the course to gain the qualification.  A students final mark will be a weighted aggregate of their theoretical & practical assessments, and this final mark will be what decides the assignment of distinctions or merits.


There was a meeting of our permanent external advisory committee on the 29th of August, 2007. During the meeting I presented the planned programme changes. After fielding several queries, the programme development was unanimously approved.

I am in the process of seeking feedback from several members of the PEAC who were not present.

Our consultation process with the Spa industry has focussed on four key areas.

  1. What key competencies spa owners look for when considering employing massage therapistsThe competencies that have been most commonly mentioned are massage competence (including relaxation and deep-tissue), being a team-player (able to fit in with spa systems and work with other people), Interpersonal skills, having a professional manner, and having competency in other specialisations (e.g. Aromatherapy, hot stone massage, reflexology, indian head massage etc.)
  2. What key competencies are often not found in massage therapistsCompetencies mentioned here included a lack of commitment to professional conduct and systems orientation, and a lack of ability to communicate with confidence
  3. Common pay rates of massage therapists in the spa industryThere is quite a bit of variation here.

    For massage therapists who are new to the spa industry the hourly rate varies between $18-25 per hour depending on the spa and the quality of the therapist. Some spas noted that time not spent massaging might be paid at a lower rate ($12-14 seems to be the range here). One spa mentioned a difference in employed and on-call rate with the employed rate being lower.

    Massage therapists who are experienced in the spa industry can generally expect to be paid more. The range here seems to be from $20 – 40 per hour depending on the level of experience and the spa. Therapists who are employed may sometimes be paid at a lower level than therapists who are on-call.

  4. If graduates of our Certificate of Spa Therapies and Stress Management would be attractive to employers in the spa industry.The response to this was overwhelming with all participants agreeing that a qualification that focussed on the needs of the spa industry would be attractive to them.

This consultation strongly supports the development of the programme as outlined, and has provided us with some important data which we will use when developing courses within the programme.

As part of the development process of the massage therapy programme I’ve been consulting with key stakeholders such as our Permanent External Advisory Committee (PEAC), other massage education providers, parties related to Stress Management, and the Spa Industry.

I’ll discuss the outcome of this consultation in future postings.