Effective programme development requires a flexible framework which is fundamentally based upon a set of guiding principles. The PQSW team have identified these below.
1. Build productive and effective relationships between employers and educators.
This is the primary and most fundamental of all the principles for employers and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to work together to meet the educational and development needs of the profession; such an importance was recognised by the Social Work Reform Board (2010). This is more than paying lip service and is about real partnerships based upon a true understanding and appreciation of what is required. The outcome(s) of which invariably go above and beyond what two individual organisations coming together can produce.
2. Establish management ‘buy in’ from the start.
Extensive experience in the field would advocate involving key managers from the outset. This crucial ‘buy in’ ensures all learning is sponsored from both a top down and bottom up model.
3. Negotiate for local bespoke flexibility.
No two organisations are the same and therefore to match the development requirements requires maximum flexibility on behalf of the PQSW team. From blended learning, in-house tutors to accrediting previous learning and experience are a few examples of this flexibility.
4. Programmes should be aligned to a leadership strategy and the organisational development plan.
Aligning leadership programmes with wider organisational leadership strategies and development plans, crucially matches learning requirements, to the underlying management model and needs. This principle is important to maximise the systemic impact of planned leadership development.
5. Accreditation for all previous courses, learning and experience, where appropriate, should be pursued.
There are two important aspects here:
- A focus on continuous professional development, and ensuring that all learning under this umbrella, if appropriate, is accredited academically
- The second to ensure that the benefits of accreditation for prior learning and experience, is also fully realised, and accumulated as academic credit.
6. Concentrate on the assessment of impact and outputs.
This is truly about making all development count and ensuring that there are assessable outcomes to verify that the learning has not only taken place but the new knowledge, skill or application has been appropriately assimilated.
7. All leadership programmes to meet national standards and frameworks.
Universities approved to deliver Post-Qualifying (PQ) leadership and management programmes under the GSCC, must meet the standards approved under the 2005 rules which set out a legal basis for approval. Within the GSCC the management of risk is embedded within their regulatory framework and the approach is underpinned by the International Standard ISO 31000: 2009 – Risk Management Principles and Guidance (GSCC, 2010). Ensuring leadership programmes meet GSCC standards therefore guarantee a certain level of assurance and confidence in meeting governance and stakeholder needs. Future courses should meet the professional capabilities framework as this comes in to effect to replace the PQ system.
The PQ awards are also validated against the universities national agreed quality assurance agency for higher education, guidance and benchmarked standards. Together, these conditions ensure that PQ programmes achieve the appropriate quality assurance requirements.
8. Focus on capabilities rather than competencies.
Developing an individual’s ‘capability’ rather than ‘competency’ is a new concept which potentially allows a more in-depth and aligned approach to ensure social work education and development is connected strongly with the notion of fitness for purpose.
9. Ensure every individual has a leadership pathway of progression.
This principle recognises that leadership development is about everyone; however, it also appreciates that individuals are at different levels, with unique aspirations, and therefore have differing needs. This is about flexibly meeting all needs with an emphasis on satisfying individual learning requirements.
10. Ensure, if using psychometric assessments that best practice guidance for each test is adhered to.
There has been a proliferation in the promotion and use of psychometric assessments especially in relation to leadership development. The University as a neutral third party has therefore, examined some of these tools and can provide information about best practice in this area.
11. Focus on ‘Self-Leadership’.
‘Self-Leadership’ a new paradigm of working from the ‘inside out’; of quite literally getting individual’s to think and therefore behave differently. The essence of individual accountability and responsibility together with everyone is a leader even this is simply about how they lead themselves.
However it is not simply about ‘self’ and recognises the importance and power of collective leadership, the ability and significance of systemic relationships but starting with self is an integral foundation to build upon.
12. Leadership development programmes should be evaluated to satisfy the return on investment.
This final principle is about the importance of evaluating the impact on practice, the transfer of learning, the individual’s development and overall return on investment of leadership and management programmes. There is arguably an assumption that leadership development, once commissioned, will automatically achieve results for the organisation. Evaluating the investment provides important evidence of what was the crucial impact.