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 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
While applying this information, the importance to students, their placements, future employers and the university reputation all require that this is balanced with ensuring all steps possible can be adopted to produce graduates best able to work within community development
However, with ongoing and regularly changing Covid 19 situations locally, it is expected that many students will be unable to complete these requirements as originally scheduled. Additionally, as needs for social distancing and self-isolation are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we have therefore updated our guidance as follows.
Review of the guidance document issued by Department for Education “Students returning to, and starting higher education, in spring term January 2021 – Guidance for HEI providers” released in January 2021 outlines the list of vocational programmes which are permitted to enable students to return to university as well as guidance for vocational programmes covered by PSRB requirements. The expectation is that students on Community Development programmes will continue in on-line learning with rearrangement of activities to take place outside the time of lockdown – please contact us if discussions on alternative approaches are to be adopted at this time.
It is expected that, within the guidelines published for each HEI, the taught content of programmes will continue as in the submission endorsed by ESB. Situations do not need to be reported to ESB where temporary changes necessitated by local developments are intended to return to approved delivery at the end of restrictions.
For students at levels 4 and 5 of the programme, by and large the proposal is that they proceed to the next year of their degree programme on the understanding that the required practice is completed through additional hours out of programme time, or in the following year of the programme, or by adopting additional methods to achieve the community development aims of the activity including the use of digital technologies.
For final-year (level 6) students, and especially those who are looking to roll over practice hours from level 5, this may be more challenging in the identification of opportunities to achieve the quantity and quality of practice hours required. The proposal is that for students who have achieved a consistent pass in previous practice placements and there are no concerns about their fieldwork practice, the number of hours required can be reduced through negotiation with ESB. This allowance would not apply to students who are borderline pass/fail– where alternative practice evidence to support a pass would need to be found.
On an individual basis, it may be possible to use verified experience prior to or outside programme experience to use those practice hours. This would require the learning outcomes to be clearly identified, and any decision being taken with approval from External Examiner for fieldwork practice.
An alternative would be to adopt a Recognition approach to support final year (Level 6) students who may face difficulty in meeting ESBs requirements 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.
ESB can provide guidance by phone and email to enable programmes to quickly set up this recognition process for final year or post graduate students. See esbendorsement.org.uk 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 to timescales.
Please contact us about specific situations which apply for your students – either using such as the Recognition programme or an alternative to ensure they will meet requirements.
This guidance has been produced in January 2021 and will be reviewed for ongoing applicability and accuracy at the start of the summer term.