The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps
Powering Chimney Sweeping into the 21st Century

What we learnt from the Guild trade show seminars – BurnRight update and the Chimney Sweeping NVQ

03 April, 2019








Lawson Wight & David Sudworth updated supporters about the BurnRight campaign


EDUCATION is of major importance to all members of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps – we never stop learning.

That’s why two important seminars were held for the benefit of Guild members and visitors on the final day of the recent Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps Trade Exhibition.

Both seminars – an update on the BurnRight campaign, which marked its first anniversary at the trade show and also a presentation about the chimney sweeping NVQ – helped to inform attendees about latest developments in the industry.

Lawson Wight, chairman of the Guild, led the BurnRight update alongside David Sudworth, a Guild member based in Wigan and Stockport. More than 50 people attended the seminar.

Lawson said that from a standing start, BurnRight had developed hugely since its inception. The people involved, the brochures, website and social media have all grown and evolved. He believed the campaign had had a positive effect on the recent Defra Clean Air Strategy 2019, which was published in January and thanked Burnright supporters for responding to the government consultations last year, adding that ‘it made a massive difference’ in regards to the Government’s understanding of the vital role of chimney sweeps in tackling air pollution issues.

Lawson encouraged everyone to read the combustion section within the Defra Clean Air Strategy – “It’s only five pages – 58 to 63 so why not spend a few minutes learning what HAS been said by the government as opposed to what’s published in the media.

“The government has acknowledged chimney sweeping as a critical part of what they intend to do. They have said how often chimney sweeping should happen, and that has never happened before. And it was because of you and your responses to the consultations.

“There is now more unity in the industry. I was very, very keen from the start that no associations, companies etc.  would be credited and the campaign would present impartial information.  Anyone can be involved, regardless of their trade or organisational affiliations.”

Lawson’s invitation to the Defra HQ for the launch of the Clean Air Strategy in January was also a sign, he said, that the campaign was being taken very seriously by the Government and BurnRight is now featured in government leaflets helping local authorities deal with air quality problems.

David Sudworth said that the campaign had developed so well because the Government thought the campaign could help solve the problem. Customers were concerned about whether stoves would be banned and the new BurnRight literature helps to educate them about the facts concerning the strategy, including the truth that stoves will not be banned. “That puts your business at an advantage,” added David.

David also listed five reasons why chimney sweeps and others in the industry should get involved in the BurnRight campaign: customers are already thinking about it; it’s great for your business; it’s simple and easy; it saves time and money; and it’s good for the environment and for the future of the industry. He encouraged sweeps to educate themselves on the facts promoted in the campaign and use the resources provided, such as the website and brochure/flyers.

“The campaign doesn’t stand still,” added David. “Just because the Clean Air Strategy has been published doesn’t mean we pack up and go. We need to broaden the campaign and take it further. We want it to progress.”

Plans are afoot to make the website even more user friendly and to produce new marketing materials, according to David. He said that stove installers are struggling because of misconceptions about the Clean Air Strategy. The new BurnRight leaflet gives the facts behind the headlines – that stoves are not being banned. It also answers other customers’ questions. Videos on the BurnRight website also address such concerns.

A new initiative for the BurnRight campaign, announced at the seminar, is the creation of voluntary BurnRight liaison officers with local authorities. Defra sent a BurnRight press release to some local councils recently and it makes sense for councils to know who to contact about the relevant issues – interested parties should get in touch.

Lawson pointed out: “It’s useful for them, useful for you and useful for your business.”

BurnRight has also created professional videos for sweeps and installers to use on their own business websites. Video increases the ranking of any site and engages viewers once they find it. They are very modestly priced – see Video Orders for details.

Lawson said the campaign is going from strength to strength but raising awareness of BurnRight was a step-by-step process: “One chimney sweep at a time, one installer at a time, one customer at a time”

Trade Information details here – password is burnright


Some 40 Guild members and trade show visitors attended the seminar about the Chimney Sweeping Level 2 NVQ led by Phil Cleaver and Chris Geeves from Chimney Skills Training Ltd.

The NVQ is an official trade qualification recognised by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which is provided via the On-Site Training and Assessment (OSAT) pathway for the experienced sweep. Phil and Chris both hold formal teaching qualifications and are recognised and approved assessors with CITB and NSAC.

Phil and Chris gave a summary of what to expect after you sign-up to the NVQ.

The course itself is very robust involving a three-tier quality control check through NSAC, CITB and NOCN and finally an OFSTED inspection of the training centre itself. The qualification for the experienced sweep involves sweeps attending an induction day, followed by 1-to-1 profiling interviews to check professional knowledge. If a training need is identified the sweep will be signposted to a provider, usually their association, for additional training. The assessors will also spend a day with the sweep observing him or her at work, film recording tasks before a professional discussion is undertaken. At this point the assessor takes the collected evidence and puts together a portfolio for submission on behalf of the candidate and the NVQ is awarded. The NVQ entitles the sweep to apply for a trade persons CSCS Card and be entered upon the CITB Central Register of Qualified Trades People.   

To follow the OSAT pathway the candidate will need a minimum of 12 to 18 months industry experience to achieve the Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Chimney Occupations – Chimney Sweeping (Construction), which takes place over 17 weeks. It costs £600, not including any further training needs.  

Phil Cleaver said that inspections were a major part of chimney sweeping. Risk assessment is ‘the job’ he added, saying: ‘your skills base is huge and that needs to be professionally recognised’.

Phil said: “The job is really about inspections. Once you have done a few assessments you develop behavioural attitudes. Before you’ve even walked into a room you stop and assess the room: the appliance, the hearth, etc. The job is sequential, a dynamic process of risk assessments but you’re probably not aware that you’re doing that.”

Phil added that the NVQ was definitely achievable for professional sweeps. He said the overall aim is to get the knowledge and skills recognised by the wider public on a par with other trade professionals such as plumbers and electricians. He said that the NVQ didn’t just give a formal qualification but it helped to professionalise and protect the industry, which is long overdue.

Chris Geeves said that NVQ-qualified sweeps would be called upon as experts via the  Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The qualification opens doors for sweeps, he added. He also said that there was a need for chimney sweeps to regulate ourselves, rather than have it imposed upon us by another authority.

Chris said that the state of the gas industry 30 years ago was the same as the chimney sweeping trade now in terms of professional recognition but now no one would have gas engineers in the home without a gas safe certificate. That’s why the NVQ is important for sweeps to be recognised as professionals, according to Chris.

“The NVQ is recognition of your competence. It’s recognition of your knowledge and experience and, at the same time, it protects your trade.”

Details at


    What our members say…

    Nick Rance

    In 2013 I decided to enter the chimney sweeping industry and paid to train as a sweep. After a couple of days training in a classroom I was given a certificate, sold some dodgy tools and wished the best of luck in my new career. I discovered after a couple of years trading as an […]

    Nick Rance (Rance and Broom Chimney sweeping)
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