The Strengthening Practice Programme (SPP) is based on best practice around learning transfer, and involves participants working with the Strengthening Practice team over an extended period (typically 12 – 18 months) using a variety of methods and tools.
The opportunity to think about practice is presented in a number of different ways with core information being repeated, and new information being added and practised. The commissioning authority identifies the key messages that are then built upon over the programme. Participants get a chance to learn, rehearse, do, review and do again in the workplace to give the best possible opportunity for knowledge transfer into practice.
The principal aim of the Strengthening Practice Programme is to support practitioners to improve the lives and experiences of children, young people and families through the application of evidence-based practice in their work.
The programme promotes critical thinking and analysis, good decision making, partnership working and empowerment of children and their families. The emphasis is on helpful interventions based on ‘what works’ from evidence and research.
We utilise a range of tools to enable effective delivery of the programme.
Content and structure of the Programme
The Strengthening Practice Programme comprises a number of discrete but interconnected topic areas, or “modules. “ The commissioning authority can construct a programme that best suits their needs (e.g. in response to an Ofsted inspection finding about a particular area of practice) from any or all of the following modules.
1. Strengthening Assessment
A two-day module to build capacity and knowledge in front line staff to use critical thinking, hypothesizing and defensible decision making in their assessment work. It supports staff to identify and manage risk and demonstrate their ‘workings out’ so they can be tested and supported through supervision. The workshops introduce tools such as the Risk and Resilience matrix, the Graded Care profile, the Decision Tree and the domestic violence risk matrix to support practitioners to use evidence-based tools in their assessment work.
2. Strengthening Planning
A two-day module that will build capacity and knowledge already gained from the assessment module and support staff to plan meaningful interventions for children in the short, medium and long term. The interventions are based on SMART planning and look at the repair and restoration of children and young people and their families. Included is work on building the Secure Base from the work of Schofield as well as use of the NSPCC Restoration planning. The workshops consider all children and young people including those in need, in care and leaving care.
3. Strengthening Parenting Capacity
This two-day module is intended to support practitioners to work well with parents to increase parenting responsibility and responsiveness to their children. It includes understanding capability to parent and making changes within the child’s timeframe. Participants will learn about the latest research of what works in terms of supporting parents and will practice observing parent child interactions.
4. Strengthening Communication
This two-day module is designed to help adults who work with children, young people and their families to communicate successfully with them. This module aims to help workers practice mindfully, to measure their words and encourage them to build a relationship through communication. What are we offering in return for a child’s words, feelings and fears? What difference will it make? Children need to understand where their words will end up – where their world will end up as a result of the difficult conversations we ask them to have.
5. Strengthening Recording
This one- or two-day module is intended to look at the best practice in recording including any guidance from research and peak bodies such as Ofsted. Participants will look at the ethics and the importance of recording as well as the legislative requirements for record keeping and data protection. Different versions of the module are available for specific audiences (such as foster carers, for example).
6. Strengthening attachment
A two-day module to support practitioners to understand the theory of attachment, recognise behaviours in children, young people and adults that indicate issues around attachment; and explore strategies for improving attachment behaviour and building strong relationships. We also explore the Attachment Regulation and Competency model in parenting.
7. Strengthening Supervision for Managers
A two-day module for managers, intended to support them to think about the purpose of supervision, identify their strengths and difficulties, reflect on their role in the organisation, their role within the team and their individual responses. They will look at how to manage poor or under-performance of staff and how to get the most out of their own supervision.
his course is currently being further developed as a result of the work being carried out by Jo Fox on the Research in Practice (RiP) Supervision Change Project.
7(1) Strengthening Supervision for supervisees
This course is also run as a one-day module for all staff to support them to get the most out of their supervision and to increase responsiveness to and responsibility for supervision.
OTHER TOPIC AREAS
Strengthening Practice also provide a range of one-day workshops on specific areas of social care practice, such as Neglect, Graded Care Profile, Risk Assessment,
Strengthening Practice understands the critical importance of evaluating and understanding the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the learning. Throughout the delivery of the programme we ask: What did people learn and how effective was the training? What difference did the programme make? What would support impact?
We use a number of tools to help us assess the impact of the learning, including: Self-assessment of change in knowledge, skills and confidence through pre- and post-course questionnaires; feedback from participants via session evaluation forms; feedback from facilitators; examples from coaching; 6-month internal Council review of impact. We give feedback to the organisation after each module on the areas above. We encourage the organisation to follow up on learning, impact and support needed through supervision, managers’ meetings and appraisals.
We also offer the option for an independent evaluation of the programme, supported by a week of targeted focus group workshops. The output will be a detailed report summarising the findings and analysing the results. It will include the positives and negatives, how well the programme appears to be meeting the objectives and goals, and lessons/areas for future improvement.
Strengthening Practice tools & learning formats
The aim of the programme is to move from learning through action to impact. This requires a mixture of learning activities, practical exercises, coaching, support, and evaluation. The programme therefore includes:A learning needs analysis to support the development of the programme’s content. A range of tools, information, discussion, reflection and action planning, and a range of materials within workshops.
Action planning within workshops to transfer learning into practice.The messages and content of the programme are developed in close dialogue with the organisation’s senior management. As the programme is delivered, learning and action plans are shared with senior management and input is sought on issues that arise. We utilise a range of tools to enable effective delivery of the Strengthening Practice programme, with each topic area (“module”) comprising three session types: Seminar, Workshop and Action Learning Set.
SeminarsThese are large group events that introduce a theme to a varied audience and include the key messages from the organisation about the purpose of the learning. Typical audience is between 50 to 75 people. These are an opportunity for the senior team within the organisation to present the key local messages and aspirations alongside the programme leads who will present the national messages and the latest research.
One or two days of face-to-face learning involving group work, that presents the theme in a number of different ways to respond to adult learning styles, including presentations; videos; role play; problem-solving activities; and demonstrations. Our ideal maximum participants for workshops is twenty (20). Minimum number required for a workshop is 8, and the maximum we allow is 25.
Action learning sets
Small groups that meet to discuss a case study or practice challenge, utilising a range of tools and techniques that the facilitator coaches the group through to produce a better outcome for the client and their family; or targeted group sessions where a practitioner brings a specific issue which the coach works through with the group using questioning, modelling, best practice knowledge and analysis to support the practitioner to think through the issue. Our ideal number of participants in a session is six (6). Team-based Action Learning Sets are also very effective.
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