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A bespoke learning platform and content for The Football Association

The Football Association logo

About The FA

FA Education is the educational arm of The Football Association, responsible for the delivery of a qualifications and CPD framework to multiple disciplines. These disciplines include Coaching, Refereeing, Psychology, Sports Science, Medical, Safeguarding and Talent ID (scouting).

Key project features

  • Bespoke learning platform icon

    Bespoke learning platform

  • Two-way integrated CRM icon

    Two-way integrated CRM

  • Ecommerce icon


The challenge

Modernising the approach to learning

FA Education had a desire to modernise their approach to learning, which historically has been delivered exclusively in the classroom and/or on the football pitch.

Moreover, FA Education possessed legacy systems underpinning their processes which were largely unsupported and stifling their ability to innovate. Hence, FA Education were looking for a cost-effective solution supporting:

  • full blended learning programmes
  • automatic pre-requisite checks
  • CRM integration
  • 52x County FA organisations, all with separate Merchant IDs, to manage/deliver courses and take payments from candidates
  • an easy-to-use system, streamlining existing processes, for both the customer and the LMS administrator
  • printable certificates.

FA Education chose Kineo and Totara, based on our previous good working relationship, as well as Kineo’s expertise building learning platforms combined with enterprise level hosting and support. Being part of the City & Guilds Group added additional credibility and authority to the business case.


Close to core Totara Learn

Totara Learn met the majority of FA Education’s requirements out-of-the-box, leveraging Totara’s dynamic audiences, programmes and certifications. The custom work focussed on three specific areas:

  • Cookie-based Single Sign-On with data-mapping, integrating with The FA website’s registration and login
  • CRM integration to pull through learner records and push out learner completions
  • Ecommerce integration, to interface with Barclays SmartPay for course payment.
The homepage of the Football Association learning platform

Kineo applied a philosophy of staying as close to core code wherever possible by developing customisation as ‘plugins’ to Totara. This makes ongoing maintenance and upgrades much more straightforward, equating to a lower total cost of ownership.Kineo therefore developed FA Education’s new ecommerce functionality via a set of new Totara plugins:

  • Payment Enrolment plugin
  • Promotional Code Manager plugin
  • Barclays SmartPay Gateway plugin

Plus creation of two new associated report sources:

  • Promotional Code report source
  • Courses Purchased report source

The ecommerce user journeys were also comprehensively mapped out, to ensure a seamless user experience.

Online CPD course page

Massive data import

The primary audience for the FA Education site is the 80,000 learners they engage with each year, almost half of which are new to their respective pathways. We also needed to cater for every user who had completed any qualification over the last few years, together with their learning history. This meant importing:

  • 275,000 user records
  • 500,000 learning history records, mapped to Totara course and program completions via RPL

Totara’s fantastic features including dynamic audiences combined with course visibility and audience enrolment were used to assign the right learners to the right courses, eg you should only be able to access a level 2 qualification if you’ve completed level 1.

Kineo’s enterprise-level hosting and support services meant FA Education didn’t need to recruit or upskill internally.

A teen playing football

The results

A fully integrated solution

This was a fantastic project to work on! Some of the key success factors were:

  • Close working partnership
  • Very detailed scoping and specification, with thorough documentation
  • MoSCoW prioritisation to control scope, schedule and budget but meeting the core project needs
  • Plugin approach to developments – staying as close to core code as possible, to ensure the maintainability.

Most of the complexity is ‘under the hood’ with the front-end delivering a great user journey and the ability to browse and buy courses online, with courses unlocking for purchase as the user gains new skills and certifications. The site is fully integrated with The FA website, with a seamless journey between website and learning environment.

“City & Guilds Kineo have delivered a robust and capable solution that encompasses the flexibility we need while delivering a fantastic end user experience. We’ve already been able to reap some of the benefits this new technology platform provides us with, delivering blended learning to around 10,000 learners in the first 6 months of being live, accounting for 25,000 hours of CPD. The LMS is now firmly embedded in our most prestigious course, the UEFA Pro Licence, and we’re now adapting our business process models – for the better – to make sure we leverage the investment we’ve made to the very best of our ability.”

Darren Sandbach, Digital Learning Manager, The Football Association

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