Online GDPR Practitioner Certificate: Going from Strength to Strength


Act Now Training would like to congratulate all our delegates who have recently completed our online GDPR Practitioner Certificate.

At the start of the Pandemic, we decided to offer our flagship classroom based GDPR Practitioner Certificate as an online option. We redesigned the course for the online world with even more emphasis on practical exercises and case studies to try and recreate the classroom learning environment. Delegates receive all the fantastic features of our classroom course but in a live online learning environment accessible from anywhere in the world.

The course is aimed at those undertaking the role of Data Protection Officer under GDPR whether in the public or the private sector. It teaches delegates all the essential GDPR skills and knowledge. The course takes place over four days (one day per week) and involves lectures, assessments and exercises. This is followed by a written assessment. Candidates are then required to complete a practical project (in their own time) to achieve the certificate.

In less than 18 months, 178 delegates have completed the course representing a diverse range of organisations including private companies, councils, universities and government departments. We have even had delegates from the Houses of Parliament, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. 

Read some of the delegate feedback below:

“The GDPR Practitioner Certificate course was really excellent.  The content was thorough and tied in with real life situations to really embed the learning.  It has really helped me in my role, even after the first week I had new practical skills I could use in my daily work life.” KL, Kent County Council

“Very useful, insightful course that provided hands on practical tips on GDPR implementation within our business.” AD, Danske Bank

“The course was delivered at a pace that suited the learners and with ample opportunities to revisit tricky topics or ask for clarification. The supplied learning materials were comprehensive and genuinely added value to the learning experience.” Nigel Leech, CEFAS

“The course was the right balance between overall guidance and detailed information presented in an easy and understandable format.” RR, Chugai Pharma Europe Ltd

​“The course delivered through Act Now was not only educational but informative.
The teaching skills were excellent, I felt at ease in the class and came away with a tremendous amount of knowledge that I can use in everyday situations. Thank you.”
HB, Foseco International Limited

Our next online GDPR Practitioner Certificate courses start in October. We also have a classroom course starting in November in Manchester. 

For those who have successfully completed our GDPR Practitioner Certificate, we have one place left on our Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice course starting in October. 

Act Now Launches New Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice


Act Now Training is pleased to announce the launch of the Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice. It comes following 12 months of development and as a result of the success of our GDPR Practitioner Certificate which, over the last few years, has cemented its position as the gold standard for data protection qualifications.  

Our courses are practical and jargon free. We focus on teaching the skills and knowledge to help delegates do their job every day. Our aim is to help delegates become the most complete DPO for the ever-changing privacy landscape.  

The training provided practical guidance with useful examples to help inform my application of GDPR in the workplace. The focus was on how to use it rather than learning all the legal minutiae, and from the first session I was able to go away and use what I’d learnt in my Information Governance role.EG, Hampshire CC  

A highly informative and interactive course which helped to join the dots together and add layers to my understanding of a complex area. I had some reservations as to how it would be possible to achieve an effective course remotely and would it be as engaging as a classroom-based alternative. Frank managed all this and more, he was approachable, highly knowledgeable and made sure the participants were understanding the content.
I would not hesitate to recommend to colleagues.SW, Harrogate BC 

Having trained over 1500 data protection professionals on our GDPR Practitioner Certificate, we have now answered their call for a more advanced GDPR qualification to help them enhance their skills and knowledge. 

The new Advanced Certificate in GDPR Practice consists of a series of challenging masterclasses in which delegates will analyse and evaluate thought-provoking case studies designed to help them deconstruct and interpret complex GDPR issues. This will help them gain a deeper understanding of the GDPR and further their ability to navigate the legislation and its application. 

The course is set over three days; approximately one masterclass per month and will take a total of 12 weeks to complete. Delegates should expect to do at least five hours of self-study prior to each masterclass. A practical project will be required to be submitted at the end of the course.  

This course has been designed and will be delivered by our senior associate, Susan Wolf, and our director, Ibrahim Hasan. Susan has over ten years’ experience teaching practitioners on the LLM Information Rights Law at Practice at Northumbria University. She has also designed our very popular FOI Practitioner Certificate course. Ibrahim has been designing and delivering practical data protection courses for over 20 years. 

Ibrahim said: 

“I am really looking forward to teaching this course. I hope to challenge, inspire and provoke delegates into thinking about advanced GDPR concepts and their application.
It will be hard work for the delegates (and the tutor) but worth it! 

These together with a series of practical tasks is sure to enthuse and excite delegates on their way to advancing their skills.” 

This advanced course is exclusively available to those who have completed the Act Now  GDPR Practitioner Certificate as it builds on the knowledge and skills developed in that course. There is an application process for places which are limited to 8 per course.  

The course has a special introductory price of £2,150 plus vat, which is £500 off the RRP. Application forms are available on our website. If you wish to discuss your suitability for this course before applying, please get in touch and we will be happy to help. 

Act Now Launches Revised Foundation Certificate in Information Governance

Foundation Certificate Blog Image

Act Now Training is proud to announce the launch of its revised Foundation Certificate in Information Governance. This qualification is designed for information management professionals who need a foundation in the basics of information rights law and information governance. It is a fully online and interactive course designed by leading Information Governance experts Scott Sammons and Ibrahim Hasan. Scott said:

I am pleased to be involved in the revision of this ground-breaking online qualification. With up to date content on a range of Information Governance issues it is a great starter qualification for new information governance professional across the public and private sectors.”

The course contains three learning streams namely Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Records Management. These streams now contain additional exclusive content covering cyber security and data subjects’ rights. Using the latest web based technology, delegates will be able to learn (without leaving their desks) by attending three live webinars. In addition they will have exclusive access to four recorded modules. Finally they will do a short online assessment to achieve the certificate.

Since the launch of the first version in 2016, hundreds of delegates have successfully completed this course. They represent a diverse range of organisations from the UK and abroad including multinational corporations, local authorities, universities, NHS, government departments and regulators. Feedback has been very positive:

The course covered the main topics that are important to my job, and answered queries that regularly arise. After completing the course I felt reassured that I could apply this knowledge on day to day basis in my job.” EF, Brighton and Hove City Council

Modules were interesting and packed full of useful content. As someone relatively new to the sector, this was the perfect course for me. JH, Healthcare Improvement 

I’ve learnt a lot and I am confident I will be more of an asset to my team because of it. The tutor was also open to discussions which really helped us to relate the information to our own areas. LW, Milton Keynes Council

Good course, well delivered, offering a good grounding in the subject matter.
Many thanks.
 MB, Flintshire County Council

These are difficult times when traditional face-to-face training is not an option.
However the learning cannot stop. The revised Foundation Certificate in Information Governance allows delegates to learn about all the important information governance subjects from the comfort of their home office and gain a qualification. It is also an ideal starter qualification for those who wish to progress to more advanced qualifications such as the as the GDPR Practitioner Certificate which is also now available as an online option.

See the full range of certificate courses available from Act Now here. 


Act Now’s FOI Practitioner Certificate: The Story So Far

FOI Certificate Banner

At the end of 2018 Act Now announced the launch of its new FOI Practitioner Certificate. In keeping with the company’s ethos of delivering on the ground practical training, the new course is designed to meet the needs of practitioners and to enable them to fulfil their roles as FOI Officers.

Act Now is pleased to inform readers that in May and June the first two cohorts of delegates attended our fully booked courses in London and Manchester respectively.
The courses were designed and delivered by Susan Wolf, formerly a senior lecturer on the University of Northumbria’s LLM in Information Rights Law.

The course has so far attracted delegates from a range of public authorities, including the Crown Prosecution Service, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA), Nursing and Midwifery Council, University of West London, Dudley CCG, Land Registry, Lancashire Council, Cheshire Police and St Leger Homes,

Susan says:

 “I have looked at every aspect of this revised course to ensure it equips FOI officers with the knowledge they need to tackle FOI in a practical way.”

The course uses the same format as our very successful GDPR Practitioner Certificate.
It takes place over four days (one day per week) and involves lectures, discussion and practical drafting exercises. All delegates are encouraged to actively participate and share their experiences, in order to create an inclusive environment.  Over the coming months, further courses will be delivered by Susan, Ibrahim Hasan and Philip Jones.

What’s new?

The new course offers several innovations, which Act Now believes makes the it distinctive and highly relevant to FOI Officers and other practitioners with responsibility for providing access to public information. One innovation is that time is made available each day for delegates to reflect on what they have learned and how it will inform their practice. From her experience of delivering of training the first two cohorts, Susan noted:

Delegates were able to share their experiences and problems, and more importantly offer suggestions for tackling problems.  This was particularly useful for delegates with limited FOI experience, or from smaller organisations, who were able to take away practical suggestions about how to handle requests and deal with the exemptions.

The course also encourages delegates to become independent learners and provides guidance on ‘keeping up to date’ and understanding how cases are handled by the First Tier Information Rights Tribunal.  Susan says:

The law isn’t static; we keep getting new ICO guidance, based on Tribunal and Court decisions. It is important that FOI practitioners understand the importance of keeping up to date, and how to do this.”

The assessment of the course is innovative and modern. The assessment model will be very familiar to people who have undertaken our GDPR Practitioner Certificate. First delegates must complete a one-hour MCQ test. This is  worth 30% of the overall assessment. The remaining 70% involves a written project.  Delegates are given a practical scenario which requires them to draft a Refusal Notice and explain how they would handle the request and their selection of exemptions. All delegates receive detailed feedback on their written projects. Our Scottish FOISA course also now follows the same format.

Susan says:

The assessment has been designed to be relevant and useful; I can see little point in giving delegates a task that has no meaning to their practice.  Instead we want our delegates to feel like the assessment will inform their practice and enable them to enhance and develop their skills. Writing a robust refusal notice is an essential skill for FOI practitioners and lies at the heart of our assessment on this course.”

The delegate feedback so far has been excellent and it seems that this course has plugged a gap in the market:

An excellent course taught by someone with all the relevant knowledge and experience to impart to the delegates. Also very useful course materials which have proved to be helpful to me on a day to day basis in my job. I would really recommend this course to anyone who is dealing with FOI’s in their job.
JC, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Ibrahim Hasan (Director of Act Now Training) says:

“We are pleased that this new FOI certificate course is meeting the training needs of FOI officers. Because of its emphasis on practical skills, we are confident that it will become the qualification of choice for current and future FOI Officers and advisers.”

More venues have been added for this course including Belfast. All our courses can be delivered at your premises at a substantially reduced cost.

Contact us for more information.

Act Now Launches New FOI Practitioner Certificate


FOI Certificate Banner

Act Now is pleased to announce the launch of its brand new FOI Practitioner Certificate.

This course is one of the first of its kind, in a way that only Act Now delivers – practical, on the ground skills to help you fulfil your role as an FOI Officer.

This new certificate course is ideal for those wishing to acquire detailed knowledge of FOI and related information access legislation (including EIR) in a practical context. It has been designed by leading FOI experts including Ibrahim Hasan and Susan Wolf – formerly a senior lecturer on the University of Northumbria’s LLM in Information
Rights Law.

The course uses the same format as our very successful GDPR Practitioner Certificate. It takes place over four days (one day per week) and involves lectures, discussion and practical drafting exercises. This format has been extremely well received by over 1000  delegates who have completed the course. Time will also be spent at the end of each day discussing what issues delegates may face when implementing/advising on the FOI topics of the day.

The four teaching days are followed by an online assessment and a practical project to be completed within 30 days.

Why is this course different?

  • An emphasis on practical application of FOI rather than rote learning
  • Lots of real life case studies and exercises
  • An emphasis on drafting Refusal Notices
  • An online Resource Lab with links, guidance and over 5 hours of videos
  • Modern assessment methods rather than a closed book exam

 Who should attend?

This course is suitable for anyone working within the public sector who needs to learn about FOI and related legislation in a practical context, as well as those with the requisite knowledge wishing to have it recognised through a formal qualification. It is most suitable for:

  • FOI Officers
  • Data Protection Officers
  • Compliance Officers
  • Auditors
  • Legal Advisers

Susan, says:

“FOI and EIR are almost 14 years old. Since the Act and Regulations came into force there have been many legal developments and court decisions that have given practitioners a much greater understanding of the legal provisions and how they should be applied in practice. With this in mind, we have written this course to ensure that it equips public sector officers with all the necessary knowledge and skills they need to respond to freedom of information requests accurately and efficiently. This course, with its emphasis on the law in practice, will enable trainees to become more accomplished and confident FOI practitioners”

Susan will share her vast experience gained through years of helping organisations comply with their information rights legislation obligations. This, together with a comprehensive set of course materials and guidance notes, will mean that delegates will not only be in a position to pass the course assessment but to learn valuable skills which they will be able to apply in their workplaces for years to come.

This new course builds on Act Now’s reputation for delivering practical training at an affordable price:

This new course widens the choice of qualifications for IG practitioners and advisers. Ibrahim Hasan (Director of Act Now Training) commented:

“We are pleased be able to launch this new qualification. Because of its emphasis on practical skills, we are confident that it will become the qualification of choice for current and future FOI Officers and advisers.”

To learn more please visit our website.

All our courses can be delivered at your premises at a substantially reduced cost.
Contact us for more information.

The @BCS FOI Certificate: A Career Boost

“The course gives you a greater understanding of FOI and EIR, as well as giving you greater confidence in their application. I feel that I can now advise on FOI and EIR with more authority.”

“Excellent course materials clearly presented by a very knowledgeable and friendly teacher. Highly recommended for new and experienced FOI officers.” 
LV, Public Health England

“Excellent trainer – fantastic breadth of knowledge and expertise. Would recommend this course to anyone.” 
PG, National Archives

“A perfectly pitched course led by an extremely knowledgeable trainer. Ideal for the novice or practising FOI officer.”
GT, Department of Health

“Thorough training, to the point but not dry.”
PS, Essex CC

“This has been a brilliant course – dynamic and pacey, which is an achievement in itself for such a dry subject.”
SB, Rural Payments Agency

The British Computer Society’s (BCS) Certificate in Freedom of Information (formerly ISEB) is now firmly established as one of the premier qualifications in FOI. It is internationally recognised and increasingly mentioned as a desirable qualification in FOI Officer job vacancies. Sometimes it is even stated as a requirement.

Act Now has been running courses leading to the certificate for many years. Our team of FOI experts have helped to make us one of the most successful companies in this area with a pass rate of over 85%.

Our course is aimed at anyone working in the FOI area, such as information managers, FOI practitioners, information governance officers, data protection officers, press officers and lawyers advising on information law issues. No prior knowledge is assumed although it always helps to have some experience of dealing with FOI requests. Our course runs over several weeks (one day per week) rather than being crammed into a few days. This allows delegates to get to know each other and benefit from their respective experience and knowledge. Often friendships are forged which continue to be of mutual assistance well after the course has ended.

Online Resource Lab

What makes the Act Now BCS FOI course unique is that we have a full online Resource Lab, which compliments the face-to-face teaching and course materials. Delegates can watch over 5 hours of videos on various aspects of the syllabus. Most videos are linked to an online quiz allowing delegates to test their knowledge at the end. There are also many standalone quizzes as well as links to ICO guides and other useful reference documents in the Resource Lab. This means that candidates have a full resource library which they can access at anytime to back up what they learnt on the course or to catch up if they fell asleep in the afternoon after a good lunch! Our courses are at five star (city centre) hotels so the latter is always a possibility.

The Exam!

The course is assessed through a three hour scenario based, closed book written exam which consists of:

  • Part A: 10 multiple choice questions (1 mark each)
  • Part B: 8 compulsory short narrative questions (5 marks each)
  • Part C: 6 questions – a compulsory case study (20 marks each) plus two other essay questions (15 marks each)

The pass mark is 50% (50/100) and the distinction mark is 80% (80/100).

Passing the exam is as much about exam technique as it about knowing the law and how to apply it. Our course (and homework) contains lots of scenario-based exercises which are designed to teach delegates how to answer the key points of a question within the time available in the exam. Each exercise/homework is further discussed in a group setting before a suggested answer is agreed upon.

We also hold a live online revision session, which allows delegates to ask the trainer to go over key areas of the syllabus and/or more sample questions. There is also a test at the end.

How To Pass

Don’t be too worried about the exam. You will be taught by a very experienced trainer who himself has passed the exam with a distinction. But in the end your success will depend on the hard work you are willing to put in. Timely attendance is essential as well as the doing the homework and taking an active part in discussions. We also find that candidates who pass the mock exam pass the real thing. Therefore revision for the mock is essential. Those who learn key facts as they go along rather than cram at the end inevitably tend to do well. (Read our other top tips here.)

A successful FOI candidate and a successful DP candidate have also shared their views on how to get the best out of the course on our blog.

Are you a Freedom of Information (FOI) practitioner wanting to give your career a boost? Or perhaps you are new to FOI wanting to quickly get up to speed with FOI law and practice? Now is the time to think about doing a BCS FOI course. Not only will it give you an in depth knowledge of FOI law and practice, it will allow you to prove your expertise to your colleagues through gaining an internationally recognised qualification. At Act Now we are dedicated to ensuring you get the best training and resources to help you achieve your potential. Don’t just take our word for it though.

Read what our previous delegates have said and one of the tutors. If you are feeling brave, have a go at our online BCS FOI test.

Our next BCS FOI Course starts next month in Manchester.

For Scottish colleagues we run the Act Now FOISA Practitioner Certificate which is endorsed by the Centre for Information Rights based at the University of Dundee.

Scottish Information Commissioner’s Annual Report


In September the Scottish Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, published her annual report for 2013/14.  Ms Agnew enforces the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). In her own words, “The report documents our achievements and challenges across the year, while also providing a snapshot of the wider picture of FOI in Scotland.”

Key facts are as follows:

  • Appeals to the Commissioner fell slightly during 2013/14, with 578 appeals received compared to 594 in 2012/13.  The slight fall appears to be due to a fall in the number of appeals made because an authority had failed to respond within the statutory time limits.
  • The Commissioner received the highest number of enquiries to date, at 2,008.  This was an 11% rise on last year.
  • 62% of appeals were from members of the public.
  • In 67% of decisions the Commissioner found wholly or partly in favour of the requester.
  • Public awareness of FOISA in Scotland is at 78%.
  • Scottish public authorities reported that they received over 60,000 FOISA requests in 2013/14.
  • 75% of appeals took less than 4 months to resolve.
  • There were no appeals to the Court of Session against decisions issued by the Commissioner in 2013/14.
  • The Commissioner launched a new programme of regional “roadshows” , which saw the Commissioner and her staff deliver FOISA training to over 200 participants from a range of backgrounds.

In an excellent example of Open Data, the Commissioner has also published detailed information on the appeals received since 2005, broken down by public authority, region and sector, in Excel spreadsheets on her website.

The Commissioner is currently working on a Special Report on the scope of FOISA and whether all the right organisations are covered. The report will be laid in the Scottish Parliament in early 2015, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Act coming into force.

If you are new to FOI in Scotland or want to boost your career through gaining a qualification, our FOISA Practitioner Certificate  is ideal for you. The four day course is endorsed by the Centre for FOI , based at Dundee University.

If you’re considering enrolling on the course, what can you expect? Read what the tutor has to say and have a go at the FOISA test.

Practitioner Certificate in FOISA: Review of First Year


Act Now Training is pleased to report that it has completed a very successful first year of delivering the Practitioner Certificate in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Four courses were delivered in 2013 with very strong candidates from a variety of backgrounds:


The overall pass rate was 94% with over a third of delegates obtaining a distinction (over 80%). 72% of delegates scored above 65% in the final assessment. The delegate feedback has been extremely positive. All said they enjoyed the course and felt that they would be able to apply the skills learnt on the course in the workplace to improve their efficiency in dealing with FOISA requests. (Read a successful candidate’s observations here.)

Commenting on the first year of delivering the course, Tim Turner said:

“I’ve enjoyed writing and delivering this course. The results have been encouraging and also demonstrate clearly the high level of expertise in Scottish Public bodies. I am also pleased that the course project element has enabled individuals to achieve very high marks and well deserved distinctions. I think that this style of qualification is better suited to the way of working within Scottish Public Bodies managing Freedom of Information.”

More of Tim’s views on the course can be read here.

The course is endorsed by the Centre for FOI based at Dundee University. The Chair of the independent Exam Board , Professor Kevin Dunion (formerly the Scottish Information Commissioner and now the Executive Director of the Centre for FOI) says in the course review report:

“I’m pleased to be able to participate in the review of the first year of this groundbreaking new course designed for Scottish FOI practitioners. Having reviewed the syllabus, the examination process and the first year’s results I am happy to continue to endorse Act Now’s Practitioner Certificate in FOISA for another year. The quality of the delegates, as evidenced by the high grades, augurs well for FOI in Scotland. In particular, I am pleased at Act Now’s initiative to include practical elements in the course. This clearly provides direct benefits for  public authorities,  by improving the ability of practitioners to deal with complex information requests.”

With more bodies being made subject to FOISA on 1st April 2014, we are confident that the Act Now Practitioner Certificate in FOISA will soon become the qualification of choice for FOISA professionals in Scotland.

Our next course is in May in Edinburgh. Interested? Have a go at the FOISA test.

Scottish Information Commissioner’s Annual Report


The Scottish Information Commissioner has published her annual report for 2012/13.  Key facts are as follows:

  • The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner (OSIC) received 594 FOI appeals in the year. This was an increase of 14% on last year, and an increase of 49% over the last 5 years.
  • 27% of appeals related to a failure to respond within FOI timescales.  This is the largest proportion of such appeals to date.
  • The OSIC found completely in the requesters’ favour in 37% of cases, completely in authorities’ favour in 37% and partially in favour of requesters / authorities in the remainder.
  • OSIC closed 564 cases, a 9% increase on last year.
  • OSIC has introduced new resources to advise and assist public authorities and requesters.
  • OSIC has announced its strategy for improving performance of FOI in Scotland by adding value.

FOI continues to be used predominantly by members of the public, as illustrated by the examples in report.  These show the range of important “real-life” community issues for which FOI is used on a daily basis.

During the year Act Now Training received valuable feedback from the Scottish Information Commissioner in respect of our certificated course; the Practitioner Certificate in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The course is also endorsed by the Centre for FOI based at Dundee University.

If you’re considering joining the course, what can you expect? Read what the tutor has to say and have a go at the FOISA test.

Forthcoming Webinars

EI(S)Rs 2004: An Introduction
18th Oct 2013  @ 10:00am |

The FOI (Scotland) Act 2002: An Introduction
28th Nov 2013 @ 10:00am |

FOISA 2002: An Update28th Nov 2013 @ 11:30am –

Recordings also available – Please email for more details

At Last! A Certificated Course for Scottish FOI Practitioners

FOISAPageimageFor years Scottish Freedom of Information practitioners did not have a Scottish FOI qualification that they could study for. Unlike their counterparts in England and Wales, the BCS (formerly ISEB) FOI course is not suitable as it concentrates on the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Seeing this unmet training need, Act Now Training has now designed a new certificated course; the Practitioner Certificate in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The course is endorsed by the Centre for FOI based at Dundee University.

The course is suitable for the FOISA novice as well as the experienced practitioner. The course structure is designed to thoroughly examine the law as well as the practical aspects of dealing with FOISA (and EI(S)R) requests on a day-to-day level

Two courses were completed in the Spring/Summer season. Two more are scheduled for October and December. Thus far we have had very strong candidates from a variety of backgrounds. All have said how useful they have found the course.

If you’re considering joining the course, what can you expect? Read what the tutor has to say.

Think you know about FOISA? Have a go at the FOISA test.

Download the course flyer here

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