Education and training for the integrated children’s workforce:

Author/Producer Dr Julie Anderson
Published in Autumn 2008 newsletter
Date Published 24 November 2008
Pages 2

Summary

Implications for HE: a summary of a significant resource hosted by ESCalate at http://icshe.escalate.ac.uk.

Description

Every Child Matters: Change for Children was a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. It was the Government’s response to a situation where fragmented services meant that children could ‘fall between the cracks’ resulting in social exclusion or neglect. In order that every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, has the opportunity to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution, and achieve economic well-being, support for children needs to be rationalised through multi-agency and integrated working. This involves early years provision and schools (including extended schools) and a whole host of other partners such as healthcare, social care and welfare, culture, sport, play, and youth justice professionals working in tandem with children and their parents, carers and families.

It was appreciated that this would have far-reaching consequences for Higher Education. These include curriculum review, joint working and new programmes, taking into account the ‘Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children’s Workforce’ and the Integrated Qualifications Framework (IQF) being developed by the Children’s Workforce Network (CWN) and the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC).

The Integrated Children’s Services in Higher Education (ICSHE) project was run until May this year to help address some of the issues for HE. It was co-ordinated by SWAP, the Higher Education Academy’s subject centre for social policy and social work, the project focusing on professional education for integrated children's services to meet the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda.

It was supported by the following HEA subject centres ESCalate, Health Sciences and Practice as well as MEDEVand Psychology. The Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Children’s Workforce Network (CWN) were also project partners.

The project aimed to bring together these relevant subject disciplines and sector bodies to achieve a number of outcomes, namely to raise awareness of the evolving agenda in children’s services for HE staff working across the disciplines and professions; identify examples of emergent practice for integrated provision in HE; identify barriers to change and ways to overcome these; promote collaboration between disciplines; contribute to knowledge generation about IPE in this arena and promote dialogue between HE and Sector Skills Councils.

Knowledge Review

Researchers at the University of Sussex were commissioned to undertake a Knowledge Review of the HE response to integrated children’s services. (The full version of the Knowledge review is available on the website.)

There were three components to this work:

  • 1. A Research Review
  • 2. A Practice Survey of 36 HEIs that provide professional education in one or more of the following: Education and Early Years, Health Sciences and Practice, Medicine and Dentistry, Psychology, Social Work, Youth and Community.
  • 3. An ICS Policy Map showing key relevant policies relevant for HEIs across the disciplines was created and is available at http://icshe.escalate.ac.uk/1459

Project conclusions and findings may be read on the website as there is little space in an article here - but project recommendations were offered. These include that:

  • Government departments and Sector Skills Councils should involve higher education as a strategic partner in researching, developing and implementing policy and practice for the ICS workforce at national, regional and local levels.
  • Regulatory bodies for all the relevant professions should explore collaboration to harmonise regulatory requirements for the professions.
  • Employers, supported by government, should be encouraged to work with HEIs to develop programmes with a sustainable and robust business case.
  • Universities should strengthen their links with the sector skills councils and employers at regional level. At national level HE engagement could be strengthened through academic sector bodies and the HEA Subject Centres.
  • Professional, academic and/or regulatory bodies should commission profession or discipline-specific reviews and with input from professional, regulatory, sector academic bodies and the relevant HEA Subject Centres.
  • Research funders should target funding for research into interprofessional work for ICS and into interprofessional learning for ICS to ensure a robust evidence base on the outcomes for students.
  • The Quality Assurance Agency should explore the feasibility of harmonising benchmark statements across disciplines; a focus on interprofessional learning and collaboration might be a place to start. A review on guidance about teaching students at different levels together would be welcome.
  • Children, young people and families should be supported to contribute to learning, teaching, assessment and evaluation.

The agenda for integrated children’s services includes changing cultures, changing practitioner roles, and introducing new kinds of practitioners. Higher education can contribute to all of these; both educators and graduating students have a significant role to play as change agents to create a new culture for integrated services.