Daniel Pelka: Is more training and CPD the answer to improving professional practice?

One of the recommendations from the serious case review on the tragic death of Daniel Pelka calls for more training and professional development opportunities for staff. I’m not convinced professionals need more training, I think professionals need better quality training and the environment in which to put new learning into practice.

Having worked in higher education in developing and providing post qualifying courses and CPD activity for 9 years I know a lot of money is spent by the NHS and local authorities on training and education for their staff, and I wonder if it is time to review the quality of that provision and to get serious about changing the culture and structures which frame practice.

I know from experience how employers can respond to such recommendations. On many occasions I have been asked to develop a training package for a failing organisation for their staff on Safeguarding Adults and Children which would require no face to face input from anyone, something involving a tick box that staff can do on their own in front of a computer screen. I have declined such requests as it has felt to me the request was related to meeting a target, rather than addressing issues in practice surrounding adult or child abuse. The term I have heard used for this type of training in the health service is ‘sheep dipping’. I have heard this term used many times by senior managers and some senior academics. I find it insulting in the extreme that professionals and something as important as improving practice in safeguarding can be spoken about in such a demeaning manner. The value to staff of face to face contact with educators and peers in learning environments, and of having to provide work post course that is assessed, can not be under estimated.

We must hope those involved in learning from Daniels death in Coventry seek to develop education and training that is about quality, rather than quantity and meeting a target. However, of greater concern is that the changes required in the wider context of practice are not forgotten and that these are addressed at the same time, as recommended by Prof Eileen Munro.

I do my best to ensure I provide education and CPD activity that is worthwhile and supportive to developing practice, however, I also know that unless the structural issues practitioners face on a day-to-day basis are addressed those practitioners will find it difficult to put into practise their new learning and the opportunity to make real improvements will be lost….

About digalpin

I gained my social work qualification from the University of Southampton and worked for 14 years in mental health, disability and older people services. I am currently a senior lecturer in post-qualifying social work at Bournemouth University and am conducting research on government and societal attitudes and responses to the mistreatment of older people in health and social care provision for my doctorate. My views are my own.

4 thoughts on “Daniel Pelka: Is more training and CPD the answer to improving professional practice?

  1. Thought provoking as per usual Di – my own thoughts are that staff need to always consider the unthinkable, and to know that they have done all they need to do. I practiced as an AMHP for many years, and risk was an integral part of the role, as was the requirement to complete a report at the time of an assessment. I well remember a colleague describing this report as ‘potentially career ending’ if an error was made – maybe all staff should ask the question, what if the unthinkable happens, have I done all I am required to do?

  2. Thanks Shaun. It’s a tough one, what would practice be like if we were to think the unthinkable all of the time? Could practitioners cope emotionally?

    Thanks for taking time to read and and comment, much appreciated.

  3. I don’t necessarily think the answer is more training and CPD. That said,there may be occasions when individuals and or Teams have learning gaps, particularly in relation to new structural conditions including new policy agendas. I do agree that a supportive learning and mentoring enviornment in which to put knowledge into practice is crucial.Sadly too often Managers think sending their Practitioners on a course is their commitment to a more robust practice done, without REALLY supporting staff.

    1. Thanks Susan for your comments. Yes I know the feeling, you’ve been on a half day training session so you must be an expert on subject X!

      If only it was that easy. Thanks again for taking time to comment, much appreciated.

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