Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Commitment to Training

Over our school holidays, my partner and I went away with a few friends on a cruise around the Pacific Islands.  One of the perks of working with Steiner is having the opportunity to talk with the beauty therapists, spa therapists, nail technicians and other beauty- and spa-related staff aboard the ship.

The majority of times I’ve been aboard cruise ships, many of the Steiner staff members aboard have been friendly, outgoing, confident: this time was no exception.

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When the economic crisis (as they are calling it now) struck last year, many people were worried about how this would affect their lives, their jobs, their industry. I was saying to a student last week that I’m of the “old school”, starting my tenure at the National School of Aesthetics in the mind-set that, “beauty therapy treatments are probably one of the first things people cut back on in times like this.”

I was very wrong.

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In light of our 25th anniversary, as stated before, we’re making a few changes, and some of these changes are to make the information we give prospective students and their loved ones as concise but informative as possible.

In the last few days, I’ve been updating our Web site to make it easier-to-read, mostly by revamping tables, de-emphasizing “the fine print” by making it, well, fine print, and, most importantly, adding pictures to give the reader “a break” once in a while.  The thing with a Web site is it is a living, breathing document; it evolves as time marches on, usually for better (one hopes).  We’ve also made some content “reveal-able”, i.e. when you click on a link, the information expands (as opposed to pop-up in a new window, which sent many an internet browser putting warnings up).

All in all, there’s that great struggle between providing information everyone wants, content people like me (the i’s-dotted-and-t’s-crossed people: you know who you are) would like if I were reading the Web site as a prospective student and the beauty and, well, for lack of a better word, design aesthetic.

The prospectus, on the other hand, has to have so many printed in order to make it a viable exercise.  I used to create them and print them on my own, but, a few years back, we found printing a run of them professionally would be much cheaper than printing them ourselves.  The problem with creating your own documents for professional publication is once they are published, that’s it.  You have to live with any problems or out-of-date information you might have in there.

So, there were some mistakes I made (hey, even I am human!) to the first professionally-printed prospectus on my watch, and I’m hoping I’ve learned from those mistakes.  The prospectus under development now has much more simplified and easier-to-understand information with a more uniform look throughout it, and we’ve also tried to trim the number of pages with more emphasis on our Web site.

We’re hoping to have the new prospectus up-and-running by the beginning of May.  Keep an eye on our Web site for more information, and if you have any suggestions about our Web site, I’d be keen to hear your input.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Patch Tests

When someone books in for a tinting procedure in our clinic or during school hours, the patch test plays an important role.  While we understand this can be an inconvenience to some clients, overall, we are attempting to ensure their health and safety are looked after.

Just today, Stuff.co.nz had an article entitled “Beauty Therapist Left Clients Blistered”, talking about a therapist who didn’t bother performing patch tests before laser treatments to determine sensitivity.  (As an aside, Intense Pulsed Light [IPL] and laser treatments should be undertaken by trained professionals, and a beauty therapist who wants to learn IPL needs to do this as a post-graduate course.)

In this article, a supposedly-qualified practitioner (trained in China, not New Zealand) burned at least two of his clients while practicing “medicinal beauty” using IPL hair removal treatments on them.  These clients complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner about “develop[ing] redness, pain and blisters” after the treatment, and the Health and Disability Commissioner’s report stated, “because the skin test was not performed on either woman, the practitioner had failed to follow the required safety procedures.”  (See Case Number 09HDC01350 for more information.)

It is very important to note that this person was not a member of the Association of New Zealand Beauty Therapists.

Updated on 22 March 2010: One woman shares her story about having her face burnt by IPL.  See the story for pictures and more details.

Things can go horribly wrong with any treatment requiring a patch test.  Indeed, a patch test does not indicate that an allergy or reaction cannot happen in the future (or even, sometimes, an indication that no reaction will occur when the treatment is given).  What a patch test does do is determine whether or not a client is likely or very likely to have an adverse reaction to a treatment, such as lash or brow tinting, IPL or some heat treatments.

Even if you have had a patch test in the past, you may be required to undertake another patch test if you haven’t had a tinting (or other) treatment with us within the previous 4 to 6 weeks.  Allergies and adverse reactions can occur at any given time, and, as with some foods and other possible allergens, just because a person didn’t have an allergic or adverse reaction weeks prior when they interacted with it, does not necessarily mean an allergy can’t crop up in the meantime.

Our policy at the National School of Aesthetics on patch testing is followed vigorously, and please know we do this for your health and safety.  If you haven’t had a tinting or other type of treatment with us before, or if you have but haven’t had one within 4 to 6 weeks prior, and we ask you to come in for a patch test prior to the treatment, please know we are doing this to protect you: you are important to us!

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A New Year: Our 25th Year

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I’d like to apologise to all our readers for the delay in a new blog from the National School of Aesthetics.  Unfortunately, from the time when qualifying examinations swing around (usually late November) until our new classes are well settled-in (usually beginning of March) is an extremely busy time, and we have been hard at work up until now.

So here we are, fast approaching the National School of Aesthetics’s 25th birthday, and it is an exciting year for all of us here.  We’ve made some changes to usher in our silver anniversary, and we’ll continue to roll more out as the year progresses.

One of these changes has been the full introduction of our new uniform.  Gone are the white smocks with navy cardigans, (Some of our students, wearing the smock uniform, faced the question, “Are you a nurse?”) replaced with a more contemporary spa top and slacks.  Options abound for this uniform too, including a polar fleece jacket in the winter and apron to protect the uniform during treatments like waxing.

We’re also combing through our systems to streamline processes and procedures, and help prospective and current students gain more accessability easier. 

For example, every year we would print out and assemble case study packs, mainly to ensure students had the correct quantities of the correct forms all in one place.  As you can imagine, this was a tedious process, and, of course, some students would make mistakes and want new forms (understandably so!), so this would involve more photocopying and/or printing.  In addition, writing all those case studies by hand could be time-consuming in itself, so our team finally made the move to introduce downloadable, editable forms on our Web site for students to use.  This way, they can type (which is quicker) the data in and print off copies for the clients to sign.

Keep an eye out on our Web site for more changes as they become available.

Again, 2010 is an exciting year for us as we celebrate our silver anniversary, and we’d love for you to celebrate with us.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

You Get What You Pay For

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I have heard, moreso recently than in previous years, that an applicant has decided to enrol at another provider offering beauty therapy because it is less expensive than the National School of Aesthetics.  Now, I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I personally would pick a provider who could offer me an excellent education and more individual attention than worry about price.  (See my blog “Why Researching a School is Important” for more detail about how I feel I can talk about this subject comfortably.)

Let’s look at this logically.

Our Diploma in Beauty Therapy and Applied Aesthetics is, in 2010, $6,999.00.  It’s been this price for nearly a decade at this point in time, despite inflation rising 30% in that period of time.  And, we only take 10 students per class.  This means, for argument’s sake, an individual pays $5.83 per hour.  In addition, theoretically, 1 out of every 10 hours is spent on each individual’s training.  This means each individual attending our course gains 120 hours at least focused on them and their studies in each year.

Let’s look at another provider.

Their equivalent to our Diploma in Beauty Therapy is approximately $6,000.00.  They take about 18 students per class.  This means an individual pays $5 per hour but 1 in every 18 hours is spent on each individual’s training.  This means each individual attending that course gains 66.7 hours at least focused on them and their studies each year, which becomes 55.6% of the time we spend with each student.

Even if they take 16 per class, that’s still 75 hours focused on each student.  That’s 62.5% of the time we spend with each student.

This, to me, is false economy.  Sure, a person attending that provider is saving $1,000 or so (overall, 83 cents per hour), but that person is also getting a little over half the individualised attention a student of ours gets.

The question comes down to this:  Do you want to be the best you can be?

If you answered “yes” to this, then you should pick the course that offers you the best chance of this by offering you more individualised tuition.

What about a provider offering a two year programme?

Well, beauty therapy (worldwide) is usually taught in a year.  When some public providers got their hands on beauty therapy back in the late 1990s, the “bums-on-seats” model of training was big (the longer the student attended, the more funding the provider received from the Government), so the move was to make beauty therapy some hulk of a course.

(As both Dr. Noel Turner, our CEO, and I were involved in the unit standard and national qualifications in beauty therapy processes, and I have been involved with NaSA for nearly 14 years now, I believe I can safely say this.  There were people in that process who wanted to make beauty therapy out to be something it wasn’t.)

We, and most other private beauty therapy providers who started off training beauty therapists in New Zealand, did not go down this track.

Again, the two year programme is false economy.  Why?  Well, why spend two years training for something that should take a year?  That means that second year is spent in a classroom instead of out in the industry earning money or in the classroom with us gaining another qualification (Diploma in Spa Therapies, let’s say) to help you earn more money than a beauty therapist because you have a wider set of skills.  (This improves your employment opportunities as well.)

What about a provider who is more expensive? Are they more prestigious?

Again, this comes down to number-crunching.  Their equivalent to our Diploma in Beauty Therapy is approximately $11,500.00.  They take about 16 students per class.  This means an individual pays $9.58 per hour but 1 in every 16 hours is spent on each individual’s training.  This means each individual attending that course gains 75 hours at least focused on them and their studies each year.

When the Government announced it would fully subsidise our students to the same level Government-run providers would be funded back in 2000, private training establishments (PTEs) like ours were expected to drop our course prices to reflect this.  Of course, NaSA was one of the only (if not the only) beauty therapy PTE around at the time that dropped the price instead of pocketing the extra money; thus why our course went from $9,999.00 to $6,999.00 from one year to the next.

So an individual attending the more expensive beauty therapy course pays $3.75 more per hour studying with that provider yet receives 62.5% of the individualised attention one would get with us.  Again, this is false economy.

Overall, I hope I’ve provided you, the reader, with some pretty compelling reasons why the National School of Aesthetics is poised to be your best choice for beauty therapy training.  We are an honest PTE with our students’ successes in mind when we train them.

If you want more facts and figures about NaSA, please feel free to visit our “The Obvious Choice” page on our Web site.

As always, if you have any questions or would like further information on the National School of Aesthetics and the training we offer, please feel free to contact us, and we will be more than happy to assist you as best as we can.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

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We have had a few emails from prospective students about the cuts in courses like our Certificate in Aesthetics for 2010, so I felt it adequate to discuss this a little bit more in our blog to help outline the reasons why these sorts of cuts have had to happen.

Incidentally, we received a letter from the Tertiary Education Commission yesterday with regards to this very matter — all providers would have received something similar — so I will take this opportunity to quote from TEC’s letter to support our stance.

As many of us are aware, not only New Zealand but also many countries around the world experienced an economic downturn over the last year or so.  During this time, governments like ours have faced a downturn in revenue and upturn in expenditure.  This has led to some tough choices in tertiary education funding, and, indeed, in funding for various different key areas such as health, education and so on.

TEC explains, in their letter dated 1 December 2009, “overall funding levels for tertiary education are constrained, and this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future”.  They add, “The Government [has indicated funding will be] unlikely to change significantly in the current financial climate” and “while there are signals that the recession is coming to an end, this is unlikely to translate into additional money for the Government for some years.  Therefore the need to control costs and enrolments across the tertiary education sector is paramount.”

In light of this, TEC has urged all tertiary education providers to reduce their enrolments into a narrow band between 97% and 103% of their funding allocation. 

In late 2008, before the full brunt of the economic downturn was known, TEC approved our 2009 Plan (the agreement between TEC and us that determines our funding) at 140% of our allocation.  While we did have the opportunity to reach this level — and it is important to note, if a provider goes above 100% of their funding allocation, they only receive 100% and not a penny more — the Board of Directors decided to keep levels comfortable but manageable; this meant in 2009 we hit around the 115% mark.

This year, in discussions with TEC about our 2010 Plan, they pointed out that while they approved 140% in our 2009 Plan, they didn’t approve going to that level (a cop-out in my humble opinion — you either approve something or you don’t — but that’s a subject of another blog entirely).  In light of this, TEC required all providers over 103% to make moves down to that level in 2010 and the future.

While TEC does not fund above 100%, the Student Loan system remains available for those students above that 100%.  The more students above that 100%, the more burden the Student Loan system faces.  (I have another opinion about how to fix the Student Loan system; alas, that’s the subject of yet another blog all together.)

Therefore, our 2010 Plan needed to reflect an earnest move towards that 103%.  This meant course like the Certificate in Aesthetics, offered in 2009, could not go ahead in 2010 as they were deemed “not vital”.  Our full time courses, such as the Diploma in Beauty Therapy and Applied Aesthetics and Diploma in Spa Therapies, were more vital, and funding was allocated to those courses as our first priorities.

TEC has hinted the Government will be moving to a more limited Government-funded and higher student-funded system in 2011, and this system may have more flexibility in what providers like ours can and can’t offer course-wise.  We obviously await to hear news of how this system will work, especially in light that providers like ours have not been able to raise their fees for the last 10 years or so, while inflation has increased by 30% in that time.

In the meantime, we apologise for any inconvenience this causes prospective students interested in different course options with us, and we encourage those prospective students to contact us to see if there are any other options we can offer them that may help them achieve their goals.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

We sometimes receive enquiries about makeup artistry courses, and there’s a perception amongst some people out there that makeup artistry and beauty therapy are interchangeable terms; however, there are differences between what the two industries entail, and, while they are related, they are not the same.

Makeup artistry involves covering up skin blemishes and correcting imbalances in facial structure through using makeup.  A good makeup artistry course will cover subjects like makeup for special occasions, film, TV, catwalk and modeling.  It also includes prosthetic work, like wounds, scars, fantasy and science fiction work, along with wigs and other facial hair.  If you are interested in this sort of field, the Design and Arts College of New Zealand offer a Certificate of Makeup Design and Production.

Beauty therapy involves quite a few different subjects, but whereas makeup artistry looks to cover up skin blemishes, the facial therapy aspect of beauty therapy seeks to correct those blemishes through the use of manual (using one’s hands), electronic, chemical or a combination of two or more methods, therapies.  While our students do learn makeup, this is a small component of the course — approximately 50 hours out of 1200 hours in total, or 4% of the course — and is strictly limited to day-to-day makeup, makeup for some special occasions and night-time makeup.  The primary focus of beauty therapy is on holistic treatment.

Hopefully this has shed a little more light on the difference between makeup artistry and beauty therapy, but, as always, if you have any further questions, as always, feel free to contact us during our office hours, and we will be more than happy to assist.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Examination Time

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I apologise for the delay in getting out any blogs last week, but those of you who are familiar with the school know we staff members pretty much focus on one thing during final examination time: getting the results in, marking final exam papers, collating results and sending out the final tallies for all students finishing their course for the year.

Luckily, this year our February 2009 students (that’s to say, students who have started in February 2009) have been quite straight-forward to figure out their results.  Sometimes we have a small group of students who have not made the grade in one area (i.e. Electrology), and I have to go through their results by hand to not only double-check but also see if they have passed any other sections.  As you could imagine, this is a very time-consuming task, and I’m happy to say I haven’t had to do that for any of our February 2009 students.

Many things make me proud to be involved with the National School of Aesthetics, but one particular event is the turn-around time on marking examinations and sending out results.  For example, this year, graduating students sat their final examination theory papers on Friday, 27 November 2009.  They finished this around 2 PM.  By 6 PM on the same day, we had marked, moderated and, in some cases, double-moderated all the examination papers, entered them in our grading programme, and knew pretty much where all the students were at.

By Monday morning (30 November 2009), all the results had been checked over, all the medical aegrotat passes had been entered and double-checked and the report card/transcript-type report had been printed out.  And, by about 1 PM, all the results were neatly tucked in envelopes addressed to their respective students and put into the mail bag.  Those results should be to the students by Friday, at latest.

We wouldn’t be able to do this if it wasn’t for our wonderful team putting in a lot of extra effort to mark papers, collate results, moderate, et cetera.  And we are extremely thankful for such a great team who put in that extra effort to ensure our students know where they stand results-wise.

Students who have studied in tertiary education before would know this turn-around is one of the quickest in the country, and, hopefully appreciate it.  We at NaSA were all students once and know how nerve-wrecking it is to wait for results, so, as with a lot of things we do, we like to let students know as soon as possible.

This is another of the many reasons why the National School of Aesthetics remains a leader in the beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training field in New Zealand.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Our Diploma in Spa Therapies

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One of our newer courses at the National School of Aesthetics is our Diploma in Spa Therapies.  Both the industry and students indicated they wanted a course to build upon their beauty therapy skills.  In addition, there was a need for a strong course focusing on spa therapies not only in the South Island but also in New Zealand; this course needed to be comparable to “meaty” spa courses overseas.

Taking into account the needs of students and the industry, we started to form a moderately good-sized course to follow-on from the Diploma in Beauty Therapy and Applied Aesthetics.  Industry indicated they wanted another diploma-level course.  In order to do this, we needed to have at least 120 credits (1200 hours) in total, 72 of which had to be at level 5 or above as equivalent to the National Qualifications Framework.

Bearing this in mind, we approached the course to teach a wide range of skills based on adapting massage techniques and movements to various treatments.  This would mean the course could be made to accept qualified massage therapists into it as well.

Our Diploma in Spa Therapies became New Zealand’s most comprehensive NZQA-Approved spa therapies course once the New Zealand Qualifications Authority approved it.  This record still stands to today, and it ensure students have a well-rounded grounding in various treatments to be able to perform confidently in a spa setting.

Here are ten reasons to consider our Diploma in Spa Therapies over any others:

  1. NZQA-Approved.  This means it has been independently verified “that a course is based on clear and consistent aims, content, outcomes and assessment practices which meet the necessary criteria and requirements.” (NZQA Web site)
  2. New Zealand’s most comprehensive spa therapies course.  This gives you more skills to attract more clients for more services and more opportunities for employment.  As a diploma-level course, this also helps meet Government’s goals of having more people holding higher-level qualifications to enable New Zealand’s economy to prosper.
  3. Purpose-built premises.  We specifically designed both wet and dry practical rooms with specialised equipment for the spa therapy course.
  4. Industry leaders.  We’ve been leaders in beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training for 25 years, and continue to lead with high-quality, outcomes-focused, industry-preferred training.
  5. An experienced tutor.  Angela Graham, our spa therapies tutor, has worked in the beauty and spa industries for nearly a decade both here and overseas, and, in her time, has worked for one of the UK’s top award-winning clinics, Zen Lifestyle, and was a finalist for the UK Body Therapist of the Year.  She also taught in the UK with one of Scotland’s oldest and well-known beauty therapy colleges, Mary Reid International School of Beauty, before returning to New Zealand to teach for us.
  6. Small class sizes.  We take 10 students per class with, in most practical situations, 5 working on the other 5.  This is amongst the smallest class sizes in our field in New Zealand.
  7. Approved for student loans and allowances.  If you meet StudyLink criteria, you may be eligible for a student loan and/or student allowance.
  8. Industry-recognised international qualifications available.  You can select ITEC or CIDESCO international qualifications to allow you to travel within New Zealand and overseas.
  9. Access to interviews to work on the cruise ships.  We have a strong working relationship with Steiner, the world’s largest single recruiter of spa therapists for cruise ships and land-based spas.  They even come and hold presentations and interview on our campus.
  10. Get ahead of the pack.  Graduating from our Diploma in Spa Therapies will give you more skills and more employ-ability over other candidates.

We have plenty of information listed on our Web site and specifically on our Diploma in Spa Therapies Web page, but, as always, if you would like further information on our courses or us, feel free to contact us during our office hours, and one of us will endeavour to assist you as best as we can.

Scott Fack is the Director of Operations for The National School of Aesthetics, the South Island’s leading beauty therapy, nail technology and spa therapies training provider.