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					         Community Development Roots and Routes: Briefing Paper 4

    Endorsement of CD learning and qualifications programmes


Over the past few years the demand for community development learning
and qualifications has grown as the government has been using community
involvement and engagement to fulfil many of its policies. Training
providers have responded by developing a range of learning programmes
for officers and activists and so the need to quality ensure such
provision has become more important.

Prior to the recent developments of accredited 1 community development
work courses at different levels, the main qualifications available were
HE diploma courses for youth and community work. These were
recognised by the National Youth Agency (not Scotland), who inspected
programmes using detailed criteria to assess standards and then
endorsed those programmes that met this standard and professionally
validated the qualification gained by individuals, which allowed them to
be employed under JNC terms and conditions by Local Authorities.
Recent changes have led to the NYA having to decide between being an
awarding and an endorsing body, and it has kept the endorsement role.

Over the past few years the community development work field decided
it wanted to have more control over development of, and quality of,
community development qualifications and learning. The Towards 2001
series of conferences led to the establishment of a standards board for
community development work in England which endorses 2 the quality of
programmes against the National Occupational Standards for community
development. These NOS were originally written in the early 1990’s and
then revised in 2002 for community development work under the
auspices of PAULO.

  Accredited as in recognised by an awarding body as leading to a qualification for
programme participants who can demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes
of the programme.
  Endorsement by the ESB is a professional endorsement by the community work field
of the quality of a CD learning programme against criteria developed form the CD NOS;
it does not provide any individual professional validation or accreditation; endorsement
can be on non-accredited and programmes accredited by other awarding bodies.
         Endorsement of CD learning and qualifications programmes

There is no general agreement on the best way to ensure the quality of
community development courses, nor on the levels of awards that would
be acceptable to employers as recognised qualifications for particular
posts in community development.

The situation in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England are
diverse and reflect varying stages of development in the establishment
of structures responsible for endorsement 3 of community development
education and training.

It has become imperative to address the issues of cohesion, progression,
credibility and transferability/equivalency within the emerging
qualifications framework of the community work sector. Rationalisation
of National Training Organisations into new collaborative structures
(Sector Skills Councils) does not diminish that imperative, indeed it adds
a requirement for an effective and timely response from practitioners
within the occupational area of community work.


The setting up of the England Standards Board (ESB) and an
endorsement pilot project carried out by the Community Work Forum
(CWF) in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales throughout
2000/2001 has been an attempt to test how the occupational area of
community work could develop a structure to provide mechanisms for

There have been numerous discussions, debates and actions which
brought together the community work field in England, NI, Wales and
Scotland. These have included meetings with key players, setting up a
steering group to direct the above mentioned Pilot Project, accessing
funding from DfEE to resource the project, developing reports for
PAULO and setting up a sub group within PAULO to look at the issues.

 There is not yet full agreement on what is meant by the term endorsement nor how it
should apply.
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        Endorsement of CD learning and qualifications programmes

The England Standards Board, ESB (see information sheet in conference
pack) was established in 1997 to provide a professional system of
endorsement of quality for all types of training and learning in community
development work.

The endorsement process has been designed and refined by the field
over a number of years to be a rigorous process that is based on the
community development national occupational standards.

The Board provides advice and assistance to programme and training
providers who wish to design and develop new programmes through its
consultancy service.

The ESB is unique in that it seeks to ensure quality provision across all
kinds of learning and qualification opportunities relating to Community
development but is not resources adequately to continue this work.

Northern Ireland
An evaluation of the Endorsement pilot project in 2001 with
stakeholders and those organisations which took part in the project,
highlighted support for continuing with the work and identified the
Community Work Education and Training Network NI (CWETN) as being
well placed to lead the work. Immediately after the pilot project it
became clear that CWETN did not have the resources to ‘roll out’ the
endorsement as was needed in NI.

NI is a small geographical area and to set up a board similar to that of
the English Standards Board would stretch people’s involvement in
boards and groups. Further, there are a limited number of cd courses
here and to get funding is difficult. Future developments include
discussion with colleagues in the south of Ireland on possibilities of an all
Ireland endorsement, similar to our colleagues in Youth Work sector.

In Wales, following widespread consultation with the field, CDC has
produced a set of guidelines for the professional endorsement of
community development learning in Wales. The guidelines and
endorsement process are based on the national occupational standards
for community development work and the generally accepted core skills

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        Endorsement of CD learning and qualifications programmes

in this field. All community development learning should reflect the
agreed values and principles central to community development. The
Education and Training Standards (ETS) Committee for Youth and
Community Work in Wales has recently formally accepted these
guidelines which the ETS will use to endorse community development
training in Wales.

Until recently in Scotland community development activity was included
within the broad remit of community education (which also covered youth
work and community based adult education). Profession endorsement for
this field being granted through CeVe.

Recent policy changes from the Scottish Executive mean that the field
is now know as community learning and development. Decisions are
awaited on how this will be endorsed and how closely this will link to the

Issues to be Addressed

There are current projects exploring the common core requirements of
the different occupational strands within Paulo and there are various
workforce development projects affecting the field.
The expectation is that many people in different occupational areas need
to be able to operate using a community development approach, although
they may not be seen as community development workers.
There is a huge growth in demand for training and qualifications for
community development at all levels and for a diverse range of people.

From the work of various endorsing bodies over the past decade there is
a wealth of experience that is available and could be adapted to meet
the needs of the community development sector for quality provision.

Some of the issues that need to be discussed and debated include

      What agreement can there be about the purpose and nature of
       endorsement within community work occupational area?

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        Endorsement of CD learning and qualifications programmes

      How can endorsement systems ensure the embedding of skills,
       values and principles of the CD occupational area in all forms of CD
       learning and qualifications?
      How can the field build the credibility & currency of endorsement
       systems relevant stakeholders?
      Are there ways that can reduce the labour intensive nature of the
       work to ensure rigorous mechanisms?
      How can we deal with the issue of cross boundary endorsement –
       of providers who work in adjoining areas/ countries?
      How can we cope with differences between systems designed for
       different cultures and situations?
      Where do we hold the debates about what qualifications make
       people fit for certain types of jobs?
      How can we deal with the issue of endorsement between different
       but related occupational areas – between youth work and
       community work for example?
      How do we deal with endorsement of aspects of programme sin
       other disciplines, for example the community development aspect
       of a theology degree?
      Where should the funding and resources for endorsement
       processes come from?

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