Maria Timperley, Safety Training Awards’ EQA, discusses here why Continual Professional Development (CPD) is important in order to avoid ‘Knowledge and Skill fade’.
Tutors and assessors are key to the successful training and development of learners. Remaining occupationally competent and current is pivotal to this aim. And no matter how experienced, staying on top of everything in your focus area can be challenging – and the knowledge and skills that once made you an expert can quickly become outdated – whether that be through changes in the industry, changes to the content of the qualifications, updates to the administration requirements, or the ‘way you have always done things’ becoming less effective.
‘Knowledge and Skill fade’ is an idea that these core competencies can rapidly deteriorate when not reinforced through review, update, and practice. This can be of especial relevance where delivery or assessment is not your main role, and you perhaps engage with only a small volume of courses each year.
Here at Safety Training Awards (STA), we set a standard that our tutors and assessors are required to remain both occupationally competent and current by keeping their CV up to date with recent industry work experience; and by recording any CPD undertaken, to ensure that knowledge and skills are always up to date through practice, update, and review.
Studies have shown that there is a significant fade in skills between 6 – 18 months following learning, with the steepest decline being at the start. Our expectation is for appropriate CPD to be completed at least annually, or when anything changes to ensure that the ‘forgetting curve’ is flattened. (Ebbinghaus, 1850 -1909)
Why CPD is important in combatting knowledge and skill fade:
1. Adapting to changes. Leisure is an evolving industry and CPD helps professionals be aware of and adapt to the changes in industry best practice, regulations, and safety.
2. Qualifications update. To keep pace with changes required by the industry, qualifications must stay up to date in their content. STA provides upskill learning opportunities to support tutors and assessors to stay in line with syllabus requirements.
3. Regulatory requirements. STA is obligated to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled by all ATC’s and delivery personnel. STA provides learning information to support best practice and any changes when they occur. Delivery and assessment personnel are required to complete mandatory CPD’s in a timely manner before any further delivery of that qualification.
4. Learner’s benefit: The quality and currency of the material delivered on courses needs to be in line with the industry requirements and STA syllabus and assessment standards ensuring that learners are in the best position to secure employment.
5. Enhancing competence. Regular CPD can boost your confidence and enhance your authenticity in the classroom as a product specialist.
CPD is not just about professional expertise and currency in a specialist subject, however. There are also good reasons to ensure that practitioners stay up to date with tutoring and assessing skills too.
1. Professional standing. CPD can help you build and maintain a reputation for quality, competence, currency, and expertise which may be an effective way to broaden your career opportunities.
2. Changes in Pedagogy. The world of education and classroom management is a constantly developing field and professional educators must ensure that they stay up to date to remain fresh, engaging, and appropriate.
3. Incorporating technology: ‘The way we have always done things’ is not the only way and many tutors are embracing digital technology and incorporating it into their delivery. It is imperative to avoid ‘skills atrophy’ by embracing change.
4. Lifelong learning: CPD helps to promote a mindset of continuous improvement which leads to better practice.
5. Overcome complacency: Conversely to low frequency of delivery being a factor in skill fade, so can high frequency of delivery. When practitioners are too familiar with a topic, or delivery of a qualification, complacency can result, and important details can be overlooked. The importance of refreshing knowledge and skills cannot be overstated in this situation.
What does this mean for Approved Training Centre’s?
To maintain the highest possible standards of course delivery and assessment, ATC co-ordinators should carry out their due diligence when building and maintaining the delivery, assessment, and quality assurance team. The reputation of your ATC depends on it.
In addition to ensuring all tutors, assessors and IQA’s have read and signed the appropriate agreements and hold in-date qualifications, you also need to verify their level of tutoring / assessing / IQA experience, check on up to date industry experience (usually via a CV) and that there is evidence of currency in industry and qualification requirements by checking records of recent CPD.
STA has a STAFF PERSONAL STATEMENT template if this is easier for members of your team to complete in place of a CV and CPD record. Please ask your EQA for a copy or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In this industry where we deliver ‘Licence to Practice’ qualifications, there is no room for complacency or out of date practices. Employers have a reasonable expectation that when someone is in possession of an STA certificate, that they have been deemed as competent on the day they were assessed with all knowledge current and up to date as per the qualification specification and assessment criteria.
By actively engaging in CPD activities that maintain competency and currency through practice, update, and review, you will be well placed to remain relevant and successful.