For many years, The Pearson (formerly Edexcel)  First Person on Scene - Intermediate ( "FPOS-I" ) course was the only accredited training course beyond First Aid at Work amid a sea of unregulated, unrecognized 'medic' courses.   Recently, other Awarding Organisations have began to offer courses for those who required additional skills and knowledge with the reassurance of accreditation.

On 31st December 2016 the Pearson replaced the original FPOS-I with the new Level 4 First Person on Scene Certificate and Extended Certificate.

This presents candidates with choice of similar, but distinct, training courses:

* The differences in content between the Certificate and Certificate are marginal.  We offer the Extended Certificate only)

The question is not which is the best course, but which is best for you?


The Stats


The difference between a Level 3 and a Level 4 course is the level of understanding the candidates need to demonstrate to achieve a pass.  On a Level 3 course the candidates are typically required to ‘describe’ or ‘demonstrate’, on an Level 4 course candidates are expected to be able to ‘explain’ or ‘discuss

Award or Certificate?
The designation of Award or Certificate is based on the number of hours required to complete the course.  An Award is achievable for any qualification under 130 hours.  Course between 130 and 360 hours are designated a Certificate.  Courses over 360 hours are a Diploma.  The FREC L3 Award is 153 hours in total but has been designated a an Award rather than a Certificate because of the short amount of Guided Learning Hours (35 hrs)

If a qualification is accredited by Ofqual, it is recognised on the older Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) or newer Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).  If a course is accredited by Ofqual on one of these frameworks it can be compared fairly against other courses of the same level.   If a course is not accredited by Ofqual, it is essentially an 'In House' qualification even though the certificate may be awarded by an ‘Awarding Organisation’.

Endorsement by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care means the content has been approved by the UKs most credible advisory body on pre-hospital care.   RCS endorsement is not essential and nor does it provide a ‘license to practice’ but it means that the course has been externally scrutinised in line with current best practice.

The “Total Qualification Time” is the number of hours needed to complete the course in total.

Guided Learning Hours is the minimum number of hours of face-to-face delivery that the training provider must provide.  This can included ‘blended learning’ i.e. a mixture of face-to-face teaching with on-line education and assessment but does not include pre-course reading.
The remainder of the TQT is made up of Non-Directed Learning hours.  This is time the students need to spend in their own time on learning, and record and evidence, before they get the qualification.  It does not include assessments.

Non-directed learning can be anything which adds value to a CPD portfolio.   More information on CPD development is available here.

All of the courses are assessed in different ways from simple Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) papers to written assignments, skills tests, practical assessments or a combination.   The method of assessment is an indication of level of understanding required to pass the course.  An MCQ requires the retention of knowledge but less understanding.  Written assignments require a deeper understanding and the ability to present that understanding in a clear, coherent manner.


At this stage, the obvious exception at this stage is the Highfields Level 3 First Aid Response.  It is neither externally accredited nor endorsed by the RCS.  Whilst neither of these are essential to learning first aid, they add credibility to the qualification.  You may as well attend the AoFA Level 3 First Person On Scene which is accredited on the RQF framework, has RCS approval, has the same assessment format and is 2 hours shorter.

The remaining courses, Level 3 FREC and Level 4 FPOS are considerably longer than the AoFA Level 3 First Person On Scene.  The difference here is in the content.



All of these course go above the syllabus for First Aid at Work, some simply include Supplemental Oxygen and Spinal Management, some cover a much wider rage of topics.

(prepare to scroll....a lot.)

FPOS FREC Course comparisson

The Highfields Level 3 FAR features considerably less content than any of the others.  It is, essentially, a really thorough First Aid at Work course.

The AoFA Level 3 First Person On Scene is the closest in terms of content and assessment to the original FPOS-I course; it is First Aid at Work with airway management, supplemental oxygen, spinal management and catastrophic haemorrhage.

The Level 3 FREC covers more detail on scene assessment, airway management, the recognition of Life extinct (death) the management of injuries and illnesses.  It is a more credible course than AoFA Level 3 First Person on Scene despite being them both being Level 3 Awards.  This comes from a slightly broader content and also more robust assessment methods; the use of assignments rather than MCQs.   The Qualsafe FREC suite of qualifications is also progressive; after completion of the L3 Award candidates can go onto the L4 FREC Certificate and L5 FREC Diploma which is an entry route into employment in pre-hospital care.

The Level 4 FPOS is a mammoth course in terms of taught content.  It was written, as FPOS-I was, specifically for Community First Responders, this is noticeable in the content with the inclusion of manual handling, abuse, safeguarding and a slightly wider range of illnesses such as appendicitis, septicaemia, COPD and Lower Respiratory Tract infections.


Which is best?

It is not so much a case of which is best, but rather which course is right for you?

AoFA Level 3 First Person on Scene Award

  • You are an individual who needs to meet the minimum requirements for licencing with the SIA
  • You have identified in your First Aid Needs Analysis that your staff need training above First Aid at Work but you cannot release staff for extended periods of time.


Qualsafe Level 3 First Response Emergency Care Award

  • You are an individual who wants to exceed the ‘minimum’ requirement for licensing with the SIA to differentiate yourself against others in the job market.
  • You need a higher qualification than First Aid at Work but want a deeper understanding to increase your confidence.
  • You are interested in a career in Pre-Hospital Care and this is the entry point before progressing onto the Level 4 Certificate.

Pearson Level 4 First Person on Scene

  • You are a Community First Responder looking to update your skills or you are interested in becoming a Community First Responder.
  • You are are an organisation who has formerly subscribed to the Pearson FPOS-I an want to maintain the same provision, albeit at a higher level, for continuity.