About us

Leigh & Barron Consulting was founded in 1994 by Alan Leigh and Anne-Marie Barron to provide research and consultancy services to facilitate the development and implementation of national occupational standards, competency frameworks, and vocational qualifications.  We have primarily worked with government departments and industry-wide organisations representing both employers and employees.  Over the last 20 years we have fulfilled the lead role in well over 100 development projects, covering a diverse range of industries and occupations.  Currently we are providing ongoing support to a small number of long-term clients.

Who we are

Dr Anne-Marie Barron has worked as a researcher for over 20 years. After qualifying as a teacher of special needs children, she achieved a PhD at the University of Wales, Cardiff, for her work on the impact of social interaction on learning and cognitive achievement. At the University of Sheffield she conducted a Home Office funded project which led to the publication of Resigners? The Experience of Black and Asian Police Officers (Macmillan), of which Anne-Marie is co-author with Professor Simon Holdaway. She became a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, subsequently becoming an Honorary Research Fellow, and is currently a member of the University’s Institute for Lifelong Learning.

In 1994 Anne-Marie co founded a research practice, Leigh & Barron Consulting. As Director of Research, she has led projects for a number of national government departments and industry/sector organisations, covering Education, Training and Development, Advice Guidance and Counselling, Museums Galleries and Archives, Publishing, Engineering, Manufacturing, Logistics, IT, and Management. Anne-Marie has been coordinating a number of projects incorporating sector analysis (often known as occupational mapping). This involves conducting original research and consolidating existing information from a variety of sources, eg sector organisations, national statistics and practitioners. Using this information a sector can position itself within the national economic framework and develop strategies for building and branding its products and services. She completed an analysis of the publishing sector that looked at all aspects of publishing: books, magazines, newspapers and journals, and led the sector analysis phase of the Supply Chain Management and International Trade & Services Project.   Anne-Marie led a Department of Health initiative to produce competences for Research Ethics Committees. This work changed the process of the ethical review in this area and was used until it was superseded in 2004 by the implementation of the European Union Directive on ‘Good Clinical Practice in the conduct of clinical trials on medicinal products for human use’. For Skills for Health (the Sector Skills Council for Health, funded by the Department for Employment & Skills and the Department of Health), Anne-Marie produced competence guidelines to support the National Service Frameworks for those working with Children, Older People, and people with long term neurological conditions.

Anne-Marie has worked with a number of charities and produced a report on the management of hospice volunteering in 2008. She is a member of Epilepsy Action and active in their Research Network. She also serves as a member of the Scientific Awards Panel which considers applications for research funding and recommends which studies should be funded.  Anne-Marie undertook the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) Foundation Training Programme in 2010 and has contributed to the Helpline since that time.  She recently became a Trustee of the charity.

Dr Alan Leigh is a very experienced research and design consultant, having worked on a number of highly significant national standards development projects. Alan Leigh is expert in the analysis of occupations across all levels and all sectors. He is a leading specialist in functional analysis, and has used this to develop standards and qualification frameworks for a whole host of industrial sectors. He is now developing the use of web-based systems to help in the development of national occupational standards.

Alan entered HR research as a key team-member of the Management Competences Project. This project led to the production of the MCI Management Standards, the first higher level national occupational standards. After establishing his own practice, Alan formed Leigh & Barron Consulting with Dr Anne-Marie Barron. He led the team that reviewed the Training and Development Lead Body standards. This project produced new standards and qualifications at Levels 3, 4, and 5. In addition, Alan completely revised the previous standards work of the Museums Training Institute, and this led to two new Level 5 qualifications for curators and conservators. He has since conducted projects for a variety of industry standards setting bodies, including engineering, health, intelligence services, commercial occupations (purchasing and supply, marketing, logistics etc), publishing, glass, construction, finance, plus numerous others.

In addition, Alan has applied his specialism in the service of private organisations, both commercial and voluntary. Alan has helped many organisations formulate their strategic aims and objectives. He has conducted feasibility studies on a number of issues. He recently produced new competencies for Gerrard Stockbrokers to assist them comply with the requirements of the Financial Services Act. He has also worked with Save the Children to develop management standards for field managers.

Alan is author of a number of articles on standards and qualifications. Before entering the field of occupational research and development, Alan taught sociology at a number of higher education institutions, including the University of Hull and Humberside Polytechnic. He has a First Class Honours Degree and a Ph.D. He is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, and is a member of the International Council of Museums.

What we do

We provide the following services to our clients:

  • policy and implementation research
  • strategic planning
  • feasibility studies
  • surveys using bespoke paper-based and online questionnaires
  • analysis and evaluation reports
  • occupational sector analysis and mapping
  • functional mapping
  • professional skills analysis
  • developing and reviewing occupational standards
  • developing assessment strategies
  • customising national standards for use by organisations
  • developing National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications
  • development of training and assessment materials

Who we have helped

The list below provides an indication of the breadth of industries and sectors that we have worked in:

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants)


Barnsley & Doncaster Training and Enterprise Council

Chemical Manufacturing and Processing National Training Organisation

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply

CITB-Construction Skills

Cogent Sector Skills Council

Commercial Occupational Standards Council

Cultural Heritage National Training Organisation

Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) and successor departments

Department of Health

e-skills National Training Organisation)

Electrical and Electronic Servicing Lead Body

Engineering and Marine Training Authority

Engineering Council

Engineering Occupations Standards Group

Engineering Services Standing Conference

Glass Qualifications Authority

Glass Training Ltd

Hotel & Catering Training Company

Information and Library Services Lead Body

Information Services National Training Organisation


Management Standards Centre

Marketing Standards Board

Mental Health Foundation

National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ)

National Health Service Training Directorate

Occupational Standards Council for Engineering

Open University Validation Services

Periodicals Training Council

Proskills Sector Skills Council

Publishing National Training Organisation

Publishing Training Centre at Book House

Purchasing and Supply Lead Body

Property Services NTO (PSNTO, formerly REATEA)

Rail Industry Training Council

Road Haulage & Distribution Training Council

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Save the Children

Science, Technology, & Mathematics Council

Skills for Health

Skills for Logistics

Small Firms Lead Body

Training and Development Lead Body

Veterinary Lead Body

Vocational Qualifications in Science Engineering & Technology


We have undertaken a number of projects for many of the occupational areas covered above.  For example in Health we have completed the following projects:

Working for the Department of Health, we led the team that developed occupational standards for Local Research Ethics Committees (these are the committees that evaluate proposals for conducting medical research). The standards are aimed at a professional audience to improve the practice of research review. This project was unique in that it produced standards for a group rather than individuals. The project also produced associated knowledge requirements and listed the training needs of committee members.

We worked with the National Health Service Training Directorate to devise a new approach to making the national management standards (produced by the Management Charter Initiative [MCI]) user friendly, thereby facilitating access to the MCI qualifications. An initial project with Operating Department Practitioners (ODP) led to four new documents relating to Ambulance personnel and other health care professionals.

In 2003 we undertook two projects for Skills for Health to develop competency frameworks for practitioners working in Children's Services, and practitioners working with Older People.

In 2006 we completed two occupational standards projects; long term conditions - neurological; and endoscopy.