Tuning in for inspiration
Hear from a range of professionals in our podcasts and videos about their incredible career journeys in the sector, to inspire and motivate you.
Latest webinar – Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Practice in Infant Mental Health and Wellbeing
The University of Northampton is pleased to announce that they will be running a brand new and trailblazing course aimed at advancing and enhancing the skills, knowledge and expertise of those working with infants, babies, children and families. Endorsed by AIMH, the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Practice in Infant Mental Health and Wellbeing provides aspiring students opportunities to explore, analyse, critique and enhance their understanding of attunement, attachment, bonding and love between infants and their carers. With expertise in the field of attachment, early years, social work, education and health care the programme team guarantee students an experience which will see them having an even greater impact on the infants and families they work with.
Angie Rogers meets Louise Clarke, Careers and Employability Lead at University Centre Truro and Penwith at Truro and Penwith college to discuss her own journey and how that has empowered her to support other in their own career journeys.
Laura Thornley, Diploma Assessor at My Choice Children's Homes, discusses the pathway to Residential Childcare.
One of the hardest vocations to choose would be working with vulnerable children. However, it's also one of the most rewarding. Children in the care system have often had very negative experiences and to support positive outcomes for their futures it is crucial that those that care for them have the best possible knowledge and understanding of their needs so they can put interventions and plans into place to help them become the best they can be. One of the biggest problems that residential care faces currently is sustainability in recruitment due to the pressures of the role. Those that have come into the profession to support vulnerable children and protect them from harm are generally caring and compassionate people who want to dedicate their time to providing high levels of care. They often come into the role from other vocational roles and are often then faced with the daunting task of completing their Level 3 diplomas in order to comply with the regulations surrounding the Social Care Common Inspection Framework.
The Level 3 Diploma in Residential Care is one of the largest qualifications I have taught and on top of a demanding and often challenging role, can be a barrier for applicants. Those who are vocational learners or those who have struggled previously with learning in education may be put off by the expectations from this legal requirement. In 2014 Ofsted announced changes which meant that everyone working with vulnerable children must be fully qualified to the level 3 standard and complete the diploma within 2 years, starting from the date of employment. To many this is a terrifying thought or too time consuming against their everyday lives. Employers and colleges were stating that everyone, regardless of prior learning, would need to complete this diploma and it would need to be undertaken in their own time which seems to have been a deterrent for many wanting to apply for the role, meaning that all potential staff would have to complete this regardless if they already had a qualification in 'working with children' or not.
I started with my organisation in 2018 and while I started as an assessor supporting a local authority college, quickly moved on to become a private training centre. I soon understood the challenges of the role and how staff needed to balance their own lives against that of their work. Staff were being employed holding equivalent level 3 qualifications such as CYPW, teaching and learning in schools and EYE and being asked to then complete the full diploma in residential care which equates to 19 units and a lot of hours as well as a duplication of work that had already been completed in their prior learning! After careful examination of the Children Homes Regulations 2015 I reflected upon why this was happening and what could be done to support addressing gaps in knowledge between these qualifications and the residential childcare one. I evaluated the wording in this document around qualification requirements and decided to write our own qualification that 'bridged the gaps in knowledge'.
I recognised that many of our staff were vocational learners and not academic coming into a vocational profession and looked at ways we could address key areas within the role to help learners develop their knowledge in attachment and trauma, keeping safe, positive outcomes and fundamentally the most important, why children are in the care systems and the legalities that surround this. Unfortunately, this is something that colleges did not truly understand as this role is unlike any other, where you are supporting children 24/7 in their homes, a place where they do not have to suppress their feelings or behaviours and a place where they will often express their emotions openly and care is needed consistently, meaning that time for completing diplomas was limited as the needs of the children would always come first.
Based on this, we now provide a non-regulated, NCFE CACHE endorsed qualification called the Bridging programme that offers anyone wanting to come into the industry a way of meeting regulations without having to do the full Level 3 on top of existing qualification. We recognised that staff were often round pegs trying to get into square holes and the pressure that this was placing on them on top of their roles was causing burn out and, in the end, leading to poor staff retention, commitment and dedication and needed to change. Changing this meant that those with existing qualifications in children’s services could be fast tracked to meeting regulations while retaining compliance with Ofsted. Staff were becoming more involved in their roles which is to support children and to put effective planning into place to meet their needs and support their wellbeing and this was being done in a more positive way as there was not the additional pressures of academic learning. They could start to enjoy their time with the children, while having a better understanding of what trauma and attachment was and how best to support this, and focusing on their wellbeing is where the fun of the role really is! Practitioners could focus on the children’s needs and wishes with a therapeutic approach to their care and without the additional pressures of having to complete another full Level 3 qualification.
We have had such positive feedback from Ofsted and from our Reg 44 inspections which are carried out monthly, with one Ofsted inspector challenging me as to why I had put a staff member on the Level 3 instead of the Bridging programme.
Working in residential childcare is very rewarding and you can use a range of skills sets however staff retention is a key element in order to have effective teams and this, from experience, has been managed in a timely and beneficial way by introducing the Bridging programme.
Angie Rogers is joined by HLTA Abi Joachim. Abi talk about her role in coordinating the Suffolk Network for TAs which provides opportunities for professional learning. This has enabled her to draw on her experiences and develop skills she never thought she had, such as speaking at large conferences. This has led her to continue her career journey through completing a CPD leadership course and more recently a National Professional qualification in Leading Teacher Development.Watch on YouTube