Editorial: Learning and Development

The theme of this issue is Learning and Development. Note that we have not used the words training, teaching or educating in the title, though all these are important if people are to learn and develop. We have focused on what people who work with children and young people need to do throughout their careers – to keep on learning and developing.

Some of the articles focus on the process of learning, some on models of teaching,  some on systems of training and qualification, and some on concerns about the impact of government cuts on training.

As far as this Editorial is concerned, our message is simple. The golden eggs of good practice are laid by the goose of the training system. If the government decides to kill the goose, there will be a shortage of golden eggs.

If services are cut, it will be even more important that the remainder are of high quality, or children’s needs will not be met. Read Keith White’s piece on the time it takes for someone who has experienced serious emotional damage to put themselves together again (even with loving help). Then think of a system staffed by agency workers, or where staff turnover is high, or where workers do not take risks getting close to children because authorities dare not face public censure, or where workers get stale and institutionalised for lack of training. What hope is there for children and young people to experience the stability and non-negotiable care which they desperately need?

Spending money on the provision of good training, practice supervision and education has to remain a high priority, whatever the scale of the provision that survives the cuts. Otherwise workers will not learn and develop, and if they do not learn and develop, they will not meet the needs of the children and young people.

In 1948 the Central Training Council in Child Care was set up under the aegis of the Home Office Children’s Department. In 1971 the Central Council for Education and Training in Social work was set up as an independent quango, superseding the CTC. That too was wound up in 2001 and responsibility for training moved on to other organisations. The Children’s Workforce Development Council was set up because of the serious problems of recruitment, retention and training in the sector; now it too is biting the dust.

The Department for Education is taking direct responsibility for all child care workforce issues, and so we are back where we were in 1948. A lot of good training opportunities have been established in recent years, overcoming historical shortages, and the CWDC built up an excellent track record in a short time. They will be a hard act to follow. The DfE may well do an excellent job, and at this stage we have no reason to doubt their commitment to do so, but we shall be watching.

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