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Earlier this year Napo launched a training survey on behalf of the Training and Professional Committee. After over 200 responses Tania Bassett National Official has brought together the findings and the key themes that came out of the responses. Napo will be sharing these findings with HMPPS training to help influence training going forward for all grades of staff.
General training and refreshers
It is quite clear from the survey that training arrangements in the NPS and CRCs vary significantly with the majority of CRCs offering very little training to staff. Of concern one of the key issues raised by CRC members is the lack of safeguarding training. A critical subject for effective public protection, an area that many CRCs have been criticised for in HMIP reports. This was also a key area in Wales following transition and required large numbers of staff to be trained up once thy moved to the NPS. Napo will be putting pressure on CRCs to ensure that all staff are up to date with safeguarding training as a matter of urgency.
A common theme amongst both NPS and CRC members was how training is delivered. 90% respondents said that they didn’t like online training. “It is really isolating. I would prefer training with my peers so you can discuss the issues and how it affects practice”
Many members concurred with this view saying they would much prefer classroom based training. This enables you to ask questions of the trainer, clarify understanding and allow open discussion with colleagues. This is especially important for less experienced staff who still need to bed in the learning into their practice and who can learn a great deal from more experienced colleagues.
Some grades such as Band 2 said they had received no training at all in the last 12 months. This was true of NPS and CRC staff in that grade. Given that a Vocational Qualifcation had been developed for administrators it is disappointing that this has not been rolled out on a regular basis.
Napo received overwhelming feedback that PQiP is not fit for purpose and is too short to be comprehensive enough.
Napo has already been made aware that PQiP learners and newly qualified staff do not feel confident or qualified enough to carry out the role. This is acute in the NPS where newly qualified offices are going straight into a full caseload of high and very high risk cases. PQiP trainers who responded to the survey agreed with these comments which is very worrying going forward. This is especially concerning given staff are now working at home and do not have the benefit of their experienced colleagues.
With just one day of training on working with people who commit sexual offences many members have raised concerns that this is leaving staff, clients and the public at risk. Combined with an apparent lack of risk management this could seriously undermine public protection and confidence in probation. Again the issue of distance online learning came under criticism with a lack of university time negatively impacting on learners. It seems very clear that HMPPS need to do a complete review of the PQiP training and Napo will urge them to take these findings into consideration. One trainer told Napo that the actual training manual is now out of date.
For some learners in the CRC we are seeing a real disconnect to how the training should be delivered and the reality. Lack of access to NPS placements and in some cases no mentoring or support will leave CRC learners at a real disadvantage. Retention will be very difficult in these areas if members feel they have been left to their own devises. Members are acutely aware of the risk of SFOs and their own vulnerability as well.
Since its introduction Napo members have been critical of OASys as a none user friendly and a clunky assessment. It wasn’t a surprise then to see this assessment tool come under fire in the survey. Many respondents felt that it was out of date as an assessment tool and just too long winded and repetitive. However, it was great to get some constructive feedback. Many members feel that the tool could be more useful if practitioners could update a section without having to update the whole document. This has become more of an issue since staff began working from home and an instruction was issued to review all OASys assessments. Napo agrees with members that this could easily be done if only one section could be updated to reflect the crisis rather than the entire assessment. Probation needs to modernise and a full review and investment in OASys could be a really positive move for practitioners.
On behalf of the Training and Professional Committee Tania Bassett, National Official, and Keith Stokeld, National Vice Chair will take up these issues directly with HMPPS. The committee wants to thank members for taking time to complete the survey and we will keep you up to date on our progress.
Tania Bassett, National Official