Probation Circular

AWARDS FOR SKILLS GAINED WHILST ON ACCREDITED PROGRAMMES
PURPOSE
To inform Areas of developments regarding making nationally recognised accreditation of learning available to offenders undertaking offending behaviour programmes. REFERENCE NO: 69/2005 ISSUE DATE: 25 August 2005 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: August 2008 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers AUTHORISED BY: Sarah Mann, Head of Interventions Unit ATTACHED: Appendix A (part of Word file)

ACTION
Chief Officers should: (1) Distribute this circular to the relevant staff in their areas. (2) Complete and return the questionnaire at Appendix A.

SUMMARY
This circular alerts Areas to the National Probation Directorate’s plans to develop a national and consistent framework for recognising learning and skills gained by offenders whilst attending accredited programmes. It seeks to collate information about what Areas have already developed locally and views about how this project could serve to launch similar mapping of learning and skills for other interventions. The rationale for the adopted approach and choice of awarding body are explained within the circular. Similarly longer term changes in the qualifications framework.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
PC58/2005, PC11/2004, PC12/2004, PC21/2004, PC30/2004, PC32/2004

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES
Offender learning, Julie Welch, 020 7217 8958 GOBP mapping, Diane Anderson, 020 7217 8895

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

Context In 2004/5 over 15,000 offenders under the supervision of the National Probation Service completed an accredited offending behaviour programme. Each completion represents a significant learning experience for the participants concerned. Whilst achievement is celebrated on a local basis, no nationally recognised system of accrediting the programmes’ learning outcomes has yet been developed. In considering the appropriate approach to adopt it was considered unhelpful to undertake development work looking at offender-specific work in isolation from a wider context of ongoing learning and skill development in the community. Since one of the important aims of the Probation Service is to improve offenders' prospects of gaining and sustaining employment, there is a clear need to establish the learning gained from an intervention undertaken with the Service into this broader context. NPD has therefore begun to explore how an existing nationally recognised system of credit might be applied to the offending behaviour programmes learning outcomes. This is being done in collaboration with the National Open College Network (NOCN) which is one of the main providers of accreditation services for adult learning and a recognised national qualification awarding body. All NOCN qualifications are listed in the National Qualification Framework and therefore draw down Learning Skills Council (LSC) funding, thereby enabling areas to access sources of funding. Unlike other awarding bodies all NOCN qualifications are already delivered within a credit-based, unitised framework. This approach most closely reflects the proposed structure for the developing Framework of Achievement, a new national system for recognising learner achievement, which is due to be established by 2010. This will replace the existing National Qualifications Framework. The intention of the new framework is to be more inclusive through additional recognition of a wider range of learning outcomes undertaken in different setting alongside all the nationally recognised and familiar qualifications. Discussions have commenced with London OCN, who are responsible for the national OCN lead for offender learning. Initially exploration of key learning and skills from the General Offending Behaviour Programmes (Think First, Enhanced Thinking Skills, One To One) is being mapped against units in the existing suite of NOCN Progression Qualifications, which are due to sit with the Framework for Achievement. A number of benefits are anticipated from aligning GOBP learning outcomes with the Progression Qualification units. Each successful learner on a NOCN accredited course earns credits for the work done. These are described in terms of the National Qualifications Framework levels. In addition to achieving units learners would also get a nationally recognised QCA approved progression Qualification certificate. This certificate and the credits achieved can be used by an individual to move on to a higher level of learning inside and / or outside of the Criminal Justice Sector. This could potentially be into Higher Education, or to prove to an employer that new skills and knowledge have been gained. It is increasingly recognised that value can be added to the delivery of offending behaviour programmes and several Probation Areas are already undertaking parallel developments. Some of this work involves consideration of how other learning can be delivered alongside offending behaviour programmes either to support access to the programmes, for example literacy work with and individual, or to enhance personal development through delivery of one of the wider key skills such as ‘Working with Others’. Other Areas are exploring how the offending behaviour programmes themselves might be accredited or contribute to a proposal, like that of the NOCN, which could lead to accreditation. It is recognised that these developments represent a significant investment on the part of some areas in terms of time and resources. Therefore a clear need exists to learn from this and to build on existing experience. The implementation of the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) supports the development of a national approach to the accreditation of learning. This is in order to ensure consistency of opportunity and approach across all Areas and, ultimately between custody and the community. In order to avoid duplicating activities and to inform the next steps NPD would like to gather as much data as possible about what has already been achieved and what is proposed by Areas to date. Views on the proposed developments are also sought. Areas are asked to complete and return the questionnaire attached at Appendix A by the 23rd September.

PC69/2005 – Awards for skills gained whilst on Accredited Programmes

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APPENDIX A ACCREDITATION OF OFFENDER LEARNING ON OFFENDING BEHAVIOUR PROGRAMMES QUESTIONNAIRE Please complete and return to: Julie Welch Room 210 Horseferry House Dean Ryle Street LONDON SW1P 2AW

1

What offending behaviour programmes do you deliver in your Area?

2

Do you currently offer offenders additional accreditation opportunities through attendance at OBP sessions (e.g. a national literacy or numeracy test) and how is this delivered?

3

Do you, or one of your providers, offer OCN accreditation for any aspect of learning undertaken by offenders on a voluntary basis or as part of a sentence? Please give details. (We would be interested to hear about accreditation available to offenders undertaking VSL as part of unpaid work.)

PC69/2005 – Awards for skills gained whilst on Accredited Programmes

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4

Have you, or one of your providers, developed supporting materials contextualised to an OBP which help offenders with low skills levels to access the programmes? Please give details.

5

What are your views on using the NOCN Progression Qualification units to accredit learning and skills that are developed through the offending behaviour programmes?

6

Do you think there are any other areas of NPS work that could / should be developed in terms of making national accreditation available? Why?

Please attach and secure additional sheets if necessary.

PC69/2005 – Awards for skills gained whilst on Accredited Programmes

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