What impact will Every Child Matters have on CPD in schools? According to Steven Coombs and Mike Calvert, it will be huge; and schools need to be ready

As the Every Child Matters agenda gathers momentum and schools come to terms with new concepts such as ‘wraparound provision’ and ‘extended schools’, and a rapidly expanded workforce, CPD coordinators need to take a fresh look at what might be the needs of such a disparate workforce as well as those who may have intermittent contact with the school or pupils with particular needs. What (new) skills and competences do different workers need? What type of preparation would be most effective? What might be the progression and professional accreditation routes? This article sets itself a more modest task than to try to answer all the above questions which, after all, might well be context-specific. Such ECM-related questions set out some of the key challenges for educational CPD coordinators, at a time when huge initiatives such as the 14-19 agenda, new approaches to literacy and numeracy teaching and testing and the Key Stage 3 Strategy, to name but three, loom large in strategic plans.


The first challenge must be to fully understand the sheer diversity and scope of all those different professional groups working directly or indirectly with schools and colleges and the wide range of needs of all those different players. School staffing and ‘staffrooms’ have changed dramatically over the past few years or so via the remodelling policy, with the subsequent reality that there are often now more teaching assistants (TAs) than teachers, not to mention lunchtime supervisors, learning mentors and others in various support roles.

There are, of course, generic needs for those working in children’s services and a shared understanding of issues that arguably all should have a grounding in, such as child protection, but there are also many specialist areas, particularly in extended schools, where health, social care and education are much more integrated.

The second challenge might well be to ensure that all school staff ‘buy in’ to the need for training in ECM and therefore share the dispositions and common values it represents. In the past 10 years we have seen school staff development and funding for the same dominated by key government initiatives, with much less emphasis placed upon non-core areas of school life. As one school citizenship coordinator lamented, ‘a day on literacy, a day on numeracy and half an hour on citizenship’.

Teachers and teaching assistants might well feel that they are fully aware of the ECM issues, and as they only have infrequent dealings with other agencies, could argue that it does not directly apply to them. It might be useful to ask yourself to what extent the life of the classroom teacher has changed since the launch of ECM, if at all. And yet arguably, all teachers, for example, need to know about the CAF (Common Assessment Framework), which is a way of recording information on the child and family through the Information Sharing Index – a central database with controlled access at different levels, so as to facilitate the sharing of information on children at risk, thus enabling frontline workers to be able to assess children’s additional needs, etc.

The third challenge might well be the expertise that exists within the LA and the school. A key issue for many LAs and schools will be the question, ‘who trains the trainers?’ Few teachers in schools will have a background in health and social work, and local authorities, particularly small ones, may well be hard-pressed to provide the specialist input for all the institutions concerned given the funding implications.  Fourthly, there is the perennial issue of resource – principally professional time. Schools, some of which may have quite a turnover of staff, must still ensure that all of their staff are fully prepared and trained, so as to fulfil the ECM agenda. This includes hourly-paid staff, such as lunchtime supervisors, who traditionally have been very poorly served in many schools, with anecdotal accounts abound of them having to come to training in their own time. This group of workers, interestingly, might well be in the frontline in relation to recognising the daily needs of the child and are in a good position to help identify the early signs of neglect or worse.

The next issue is that of acknowledging staff skills and competences and seeking, where appropriate, accreditation routes that would enable workers to progress. At present there is a plethora of diverse and unrelated qualifications for all those working with or professionally connected to children and schools. And even with the implementation of the IQF (Integrated Qualifications Framework) initiative, it might still be difficult for schools to meet ECM needs and invest in appropriate qualification routes such as the foundation degree for TAs. The goal of facilitating CPD for the whole school workforce based on a recognition of common skills and knowledge that are applicable across the whole of the children’s workforce and in all settings  is a tall order for schools to achieve, especially when no additional ‘ring-fenced’ funding has yet been given to them. 

Staff development and the IQF
Central to the creation of meaningful career progression routes for the children’s workforce is the establishment of the IQF. This would seek to rationalise the multiplicity of qualifications, ease progression across different types of learning, and transfer in and across the various professional sectors and lead to recognition for both generic and specific skills at a range of levels (eight are planned from Level 2 to HE and professional level qualifications). According to the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC), the vision for the IQF is to ‘help people to deliver services that improve the lives of children, young people and those that care for them, raise the profile and status of the children’s workforce, and meet the needs of employers.’ The CWDC intends to implement it by 2010, although this deadline may be somewhat optimistic, given the nature and scale of the task required.

This will, according to Paul Ennals, chair of the Children’s Workforce Network (CWN) ‘require providers to be proactive in looking at existing provision in the light of the IQF, and modifying it accordingly’. It will be necessary to ‘map, adapt and rationalise this in the light of IQF (a process of ‘joining up training’)’. The additional task in relation to ECM and inter-agency working will be the creation of and access to ‘transfer courses’ to enable parts of the workforce to be equally recognised in other professions. This is clearly no easy task; as Emma Westcott of GTCE reminds us: ‘there are hundreds of qualifications across the professions that are implicated. Such a vast undertaking is not going to be perfect in 2010; it is going to be evolving’. The primary focus of the IQF may well be to prioritise upon developing the lower levels of qualifications initially. Monica Farthing, the TDA representative on the CWN IQF Project Board, stated that Foundation Degrees are likely to be the main focus in the first instance, although, as mentioned previously, ‘the IQF is intended to embrace all levels of qualification including postgraduate’. CPD coordinators will need to have a panoramic view of it all.

At this stage the poor reader can be forgiven for thinking that the challenges of ECM are overwhelming. It is true that there will be pressure at every level and in every sector to arrive at ‘joined up’ provision, whether it be the providing of services or training. It is; however, important that we remind ourselves that it is the Government that has embarked on this ten-year strategy, which is still very much in its infancy. Such a radical shake-up requires new approaches and new understandings and it is important that those charged with encouraging and leading training are aware of some of the important issues raised in this article. I am often reminded of Stoll and Fink’s assertion that ‘with sophistication comes complexity’. We need more sophistication and so we may as well embrace the complexity.

A background to Every Child Matters
The Every Child Matters (ECM) initiative of the UK government represents arguably the biggest change to the organisation of provision for children since the 1944 Education Act. The changes of structure, culture and working practices affect all those who work with young people from 0-19. The origins of the green paper of the same name are well known: the death of the young Victoria Climbié in 2000 at the hands of those close to her and the subsequent Laming Report which strongly criticised the fragmentation of services and the lack of accountability of the different departments. This is something that had repeatedly happened in many similar cases throughout the preceding decades and, in effect, the Climbié debacle was the final straw. It is worth teasing out the potential impact of such fragmentation of children’s support services. Kirk and Broadhead (2007) spelt out the serious repercussions:

‘Information was not shared, leading to a delay in providing support; there was duplication of assessments; with the involvement of several services there was no single person with responsibility for ensuring continuity of care; resources were not used to best effect when several agencies made a partial contribution rather than a single agency investing an appropriate sum to provide a coordinated and comprehensive package of support; there was scope for  disagreement between individual services about where responsibility for addressing a particular set of needs might lie;  and those in need of support could find it difficult to access services that were dispersed.’ 

The green paper (2003) set out a wider picture of deprivation and inequality resulting, amongst other things, in growing gaps in achievement, disengagement with education, social exclusion and an increased risk of offending. The Every Child Matters policy considers the potential social and economic benefits of bringing convergence across all of the organisations that make up children’s services across the local authorities (LA) in England and has required them to restructure so as to enable the integration of education and social services provision. Underpinning these many changes to children’s services was an acknowledgement of the need for community involvement with the needs of the child; for agencies working together to meet those needs, and for an emphasis on early intervention. ECM, in essence, sets out to address key aspects of child development and protection: being healthy; staying safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; economic wellbeing (see www.everychildmatters.gov.uk). The ECM Act of Parliament was followed by the ‘Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners’. Out of these major reforms arose the wider workforce in schools, which is seen as a significant sub-set of the total children’s workforce. Since 2005 most local authorities in England have been reformed such that previous divisions between social services and education have been amalgamated into a common children’s services directorate.

The DfES wider workforce initiative saw the creation of an independent National Remodelling Team (NRT) to reform working practices and services in schools. The NRT has recently been restructured and amalgamated into the Training and Development Agency (TDA) for schools under their new remit of being the TDA’s Development Directorate, which is responsible for implementing two major initiatives: The National Agreement and Extended Schools.

Another newly created major agency responsible for developing children’s services is the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC), which funds the new Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) qualification (allegedly equivalent to normal UK qualified teacher status in England).

The CWDC has also pioneered the goal of achieving an Integrated Qualifications Framework (IQF), so as to provide clear progression routes across existing professional barriers in Children’s Services.

Dr Steven Coombs is head of CPD at the University of Bath and Dr Mike Calvert is head of CPD at the University of York St John