ESB Standards Review: key purpose and values summary

As we begin to analyse the results of our standards review we will put some summaries of the comments so far. If you would like to contribute to our standards review you can find out more information here or go to the surveys: Phase 1 Questionnare, Phase 2 Questionnare, Phase 3 Questionnare.

The key purpose
There was general agreement that it worked as a summary, with suggestions for amending the wording a little to

  • Emphasis putting on place collaborative and cooperative structures and initiatives – such a social enterprises that are sustainable, offering real wealth creation, organisations firmly connected with people and neighbourhoods
  • Include on-line/social media
  • Can appear outdates and patronising so avid the word develop and use an alternative that focuses the emphasis on releasing existing skills and capacity
  • Replace ‘identify own needs and actions’ with ‘become aware of needs, aspirations and actions’.. a nod to Frierian and appreciative approaches
  • It outlines a bottom up approach and reflects the asset based approach which could be strengthened

The values
Generally seen to be still relevant with some suggestions about changing the language

  • Each value would benefit from reassessment and being relaunched so they are more clearly connected to current realities
  • Look at the language and make it more accessible; stress on community empowerment and unity
  • Add in about sustainability, climate change, climate/ environmental justice, mitigating global warming, and economic justice
  • Make anti discrimination stronger as we are often working against oppression or worse
  • Add cooperative to collective action, or in the sub text

Community Work Skills Manual – The Covid-19 Edition


The first Community Work skills manual was published in 1979 as a way for community workers to share their work and ideas with other community workers; since then there have been another 3 community work skills manuals produced, each one bigger than the last as people were very willing to share their practice and learning and so assist with the development of the skills and knowledge of community work. The last two skills manuals can be found here on

ESB recognises the phenomenal amount of energy and work that has been undertaken at grass roots / community level during the Covid-19 crisis and before it all gets lost we would like to create a new version of the Skills Manual of many of the ideas and actions that sprung up and to learn from the many different initiatives that were set up. It would give us an opportunity to celebrate all the usually invisible activities that happen at grass roots that are rarely recognised or acknowledged.

If you are or were involved in any community initiative(s) during the past few months and would be willing to share what happened and what was learned we would love to hear your stories. It seems unlikely that this will be the last pandemic or substantial crisis that affects all communities and hearing about what ideas were tried this time can help us prepare for the next crisis.

The manual will be published on line and will grow as more examples are contributed. Please get involved and share your practice with us! Visit the Skills Manual website to find out more or contact us here at ESB.

ESB Review of Standards for Community Development

NOS Advert DRAFT 2

Phase 1 Questionnare

Phase 2 Questionnare

Phase 3 Questionnare

Read the summaries of the information gathered so far here.

Community Development Practitioner Knowledge and Skills

All the work that ESB has carried out up to now has been based on the National Occupational Standards as the expression of the knowledge and skills competent Community Development practitioners hold.

The National Occupational Standards were last reviewed in 2015.

The amount of change that has taken place over the 5 years since the last review has had an impact on all we do, not least on the skills, knowledge and political situation of every community.

Given that level of change, ESB is keen to ensure that the standards against which programmes are endorsed in England are those required by the sector and respected by the users and so, a review and potential updating of those standards is necessary.

Over the next 9 months we will be undertaking a review to look at  what we have that still works and what doesn’t as well as to look at the relevance of other standards developments such as the international standards for CD and the UN sustainability goals as examples.

We intend to carry out this work using regular 1 or 2 question surveys each month – as a means of maximising the breadth of involvement and minimising the time commitment requested of participants each month.

The outcomes of the responses to the questions over the months will be used to determine:

  • whether ESB should continue to use the current Community Development National Occupational Standards as the basis for our endorsement and Recognition of practice criteria
  • whether to adopt the UN Sustainability goals, IACD standards, or another set of standards as identified through the process
  • whether to create new ESB draft standards, which could include elements of the UN sustainability goals and IACD standards, for community development practice in England.

If any changes are to be made after further consultation, our expectation is that the Community Development Standards England (2021) would then be available for use across the sector for the start of the 2021 academic year as well as informing the work of ESB

We would like to invite any of you to get involved in this work by answering some questions about the topic. Below there is an outline of the process and you can find the the first set of questions here, as a Survey Monkey questionnaire.

You can now find the second set of questions here, as a Survey Monkey Questionnaire.

The third set of questions are now available here, as a Survey Monkey Questionnaire.

We want to involve as many people as possible with this review and we want the process we adopt to encourage people to contribute to the different aspects of the review. The review will be carried out primarily on line; initially people will be asked to opt in to receive a question each month which they would respond to; people could join at any time through this web site and see the previous and current questions. As the questions are answered so the collated responses will be posted on our web site. 

As an iterative process, which may be amended as a result of feedback given, the process and timings involved may have to change, but the process outlined here is our current intention.

We are seeking people to help steer this project by joining an expert group to review the process as it develops and the information we receive from people, if you are interested please contact us.

Our current thinking is that there are a number of distinct stages to the review:

Stage 1. Exploring how relevant the standards are to community development today

This stage will explore perceptions of the key purpose definition and the current values statements.

You can find the the first set of questions here, as a Survey Monkey questionnaire.

Stage 2. Exploring links with other standards

This would explore the relevance of the UN sustainability goals and the IACD standards; and seek information about other professional standards we should consider

Stage 3. Existing NOS Standards

This will explore the relevance of the existing standards and what new areas need to be included.

Stage 4. Drafting our standards

This will explore the proposed new standard headings, how the new standards should be set out, the relevance of a common core, and how skills and knowledge are articulated

Stage 5. Exploring how to publicise and get people using the standards

This will explore how people use standards and what kinds of guides are helpful. It can also look at ways to publicise the new standards.

ESB Covid-19 Quality Assurance Update for Endorsed Courses

ESB-endorsed degree programmes specify a required amount of supervised practice and require that practice is completed to a required standard. This supervised reflective practice is central to the achievement of an award recognising the Community Development skills the successful student holds.

ESB are keen to ensure that processes and agreements are put in place to support the community development sector. This applies to:

  • Students who may have a need to shield or whose placement is no longer operating
  • HEIs in offering recognised programme content to students and employers who partner on the programme delivery
  • Future employers of graduating students in employing students with the expected community development skills
  • Communities who are supported by the community development workers of the future

The steps outlined below are intended to support the needs of each of the above in these changing times. Additionally, the stages outlined below have been produced while seeking to ensure that:

  • Students are not unnecessarily disadvantaged by their adoption (no detriment in QAA speak)
  • Attempting to avoid compounding issues by requiring students to catch up as well as completing academic work and further placement activity
  • Considering alternative measures including digital work for evidencing competence
  • Trusting the professional judgement of teams offering endorsed community development programmes

Read more: ESB Covid-19 Quality Assurance Update for Endorsed Courses

ESB: Our Repsonse and Guidance for Covid-19 (coronavirus)

As a response to the ongoing developments for HEIs in readiness and response to COVI-19 (Coronavirus) preparations, the following guidelines are being applied by ESB:

The potential consequences of COVID-19 (including the temporary closure of settings) are that some students may be prevented from completing the required assessed professional practice as part of their ESB endorsed programme. This ESB guidance is intended to assist with managing and minimising disruption to students and HEIs while seeking to ensure that the quality of degree programmes is not compromised.
The assumption in the guidance is that programme design will not change as a result of an outbreak of Covid-19 but that HEI’s will use flexibility in how practice is embedded in the curriculum over the duration of a programme. In all situations, we are keen to work alongside HEIs to ensure that no students are at risk of not achieving the standards because insufficient time had been afforded to practice, whilst ensuring care to trainees’ wellbeing and safety.

Guidance for Non-Final Year Students:
For students at levels 4 and 5 of their programme whose practice is disrupted, we suggest that universities progress them to the next year/level without having completed all the required fieldwork, on condition that they undertake additional supervised fieldwork to make up the hours, and the learning outcomes associated with them, at a later stage in their programme. Individual universities should work with placements and the student to best identify when this could be possible – including the use of time outside typical University teaching terms/semesters.

Guidance for Final Year Students and Postgraduate Students:
Final-year (Level 6) students are more likely to have completed most of their practice hours but will also face difficulty in meeting ESBs requirement for demonstrating competence in the 6 standards in Key Area 1 of CD NOS. ESB recommends that a process of Recognition of student practice is implemented. This can be achieved by using the existing ESB template for Recognition which requires students to state what they have done to achieve this standard (from work, volunteering, planning for placement, what knowledge and skills they have used) and then to reflect on this. This small practice portfolio would be verified by the tutor and would replace the final placement report. ESB would organise a process of sampling to assist quality assurance.

For postgraduate students, a disruption of 2-3 months could risk non-completion of the programme. However, there is potentially less flexibility to gather evidence of activity as part of the process. Universities in this case may need to consider extending the programme and review the graduation date to ensure students have time to complete assessed professional practice. Alternatively, as with final year students, the ESB process of recognition of student practice could be implemented.

ESB can provide guidance via phone and email to enable programmes to quickly set up this recognition process for final year or post graduate students. Contact us  for documents to complete and process to adopt to use this reflection process. Please contact us so that our sampling support for the quality process can be planned for timescales. Alternatively, if you are intending to put other systems into place, please contact us to ensure they will meet our requirements.
This guidance is intended to run between March 2020 and July 2020 and ESB will revise it in due course.