11 November 2019

Training programme in focus: Level 2 Award in Pest Management

Training | PPC97 November 2019

The GPC training course is BPCA’s residential training programme designed to give people the skills they need to enter the world of pest management.

When combined with BPCA’s online learning, the pass rate for the course is over 85%.

We sent PPC reporter and BPCA’s newest recruit, Kat Shaw, into GPC to meet some candidates and find out what makes the course internationally-renowned.


  • Level: Core
  • Prerequisites: online learning
  • Delivery: blended (classroom, online learning, then exam)
  • Classroom duration: 6 days
  • Online study time: ~60 hours
  • Assessment: written exam
  • Qualification: RSPH Level 2 Award in Pest Management
  • BPCA Registered CPD points: 27 blended
  • BASIS Prompt CPD points: 24

Level 2 GPC training in focus BPCA 3

Recognised as the benchmark qualification for those professionals undertaking general pest control in the UK, the Level 2 Award in Pest Management is also the minimum qualification required to meet BPCA full membership criteria.

In full delegate mode, I went along to Yarnfield Park Training and Conference Centre in September with BPCA’s Training Administrator, Clare Penn.

She would be helping to facilitate the week and sitting in on the training as a ‘fly on the wall’, while I’d be trying to absorb as much pestie-knowledge as part of my induction.

The programme ran Sunday to Friday; five days of learning then a morning of revision and a three-hour exam.

Hit the ground running

For context, the qualification and course is broken down into three modules: Legislation, Vertebrates and Invertebrates.

These are taught in succession, followed by three, one-hour exams at the end of the week and then a bit of cathartic crying in the car park.

You have to be prepared to hit the ground running, as the learning begins straight after the welcome session on Sunday.

Our course was taught by Brighton’s own Paul Westgate, owner of both Westgate Pest Control and questionable taste in music (sorry, Paul).

There was a mix of experience among the delegates in our group.

There were complete newbies, some of us with a little knowledge, while others were pest technicians in training and had been working in the field for anywhere up to a year.

Legislation, health and safety module

Paul wastes no time getting straight into the learning, which begins with legislation. It was the part most of us were worried about and we wondered why the course started with this module.

That became clear as the week went on and spoiler alert: it works.

The module covered a range of important acts and regulations that, as pest management professionals, we need to be keeping in mind every single day.

And, as Paul pointed out, knowing the legislation can also help sell pest management services and sets a professional apart from a cowboy (see PPC96 for his article on the subject).

Vertebrates module

Level 2 GPC training in focus BPCA 4

Vertebrates followed legislation, which was an opportunity to bore everybody with pictures of my pet rats.

It was also the portion of the week where we got to do an outdoor survey.

This was incredibly useful for me, as I had only read about surveys up to this point and it’s a very involved process.

We found possible harbourage for a historical rat problem and identified areas for improvement.

Plus it gave us the opportunity to complete a risk assessment before starting.

Invertebrates module

The final module was invertebrates; we learned about insect pest biology and got to take a tour of the training centre kitchens for a task.

We had expected that to scare us off the food but luckily there were no horrors to be found.

Throughout all of this, Paul was weaving legislation into the modules. And that’s why, personally, I found it useful to start with legislation.

Pest management doesn’t exist in a vacuum and so while we were learning about pests like rats, we were able to link it back to the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949.

Or when filling out our risk assessment, we were able to use our knowledge of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA).

Learning together

GPC has lots of opportunities to join in with optional revision sessions with Paul throughout the week.

Some of us set up our own revision groups, which created a really good sense of camaraderie.

In fact, there was a general good vibe all week and I think it helped the learning experience.

The final revision session on the morning of the exam is also optional, but I would highly recommend attending.

It gives you that last opportunity to get to grips with things you might have struggled with throughout the week and, as a group, everyone pulls together and offers last-minute encouragement which is more helpful than you might expect.

And the Oscar for best larva goes to...

That’s just a short overview of the week. As anyone working in pest management knows, you never stop learning and I found this course a great entry point.

Paul’s teaching style is quite unique and I’m sure many people who have taken the course will still remember the FEPA, COPR, BPR train.

Frankly, that keeps me awake at night occasionally.

Paul’s teaching style is quite unique and I’m sure many people who have taken the course will still remember the FEPA, COPR, BPR train.

Props to his acting ability though, as the carpet moth larva impression was an Oscar-worthy performance.

There are definite advantages to taking the exam following the classroom programme, rather than purely online learning.

It gives far more context to the learning, you can draw from the experience of those around you and everyone asks questions, helping each other to learn.

BPCA works hard to provide courses with multiple delivery options, so for those who learn better online, that's an option which also comes with cost savings.

And there's now a modular course for people who learn better in bite-sized chunks.

For my style of learning, the residential course at Yarnfield worked perfectly.

In all honesty, speaking as a big ol’ nerd, I would happily take the course again next week.

Want to skill up?

If you'd like to find out more about our training programmes or if you have any questions about the Level 2 Award in Pest Management, please get in touch.

Source: PPC97

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