Spotlight on … Professional Development Award for Children’s Reporter Practice

Posted on 04th May 2023
Group of teenagers laughing

This month we shine the spotlight on SCRA’s Professional Development Award for Children’s Reporter Practice.

The Professional Development Award for Children’s Reporter Practice (PDA) is a unique qualification for Children’s Reporters and Assistant Reporters designed and delivered by SCRA. We talk to our Accreditation Manager Catherine Rankin to find out more…

Does the award have any external scrutiny/validation?
It is accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) at level 10 (equivalent to Honours degree level) and it ensures a framework to enhance the quality and consistency of all Reporter training. SQA has continuous involvement with SCRA and our PDA and periodically carry out inspections of our materials, processes and evidence. Upon completion of each unit, candidates receive certification from SQA and then a completion certificate from SCRA when they have completed all seven units and are recognised as an Accredited Reporter.

What are the benefits of the award?
On completion, candidates have an excellent, thorough and well rounded knowledge of the role. Those who have achieved the Award speak of their increased confidence and experience having completed the PDA. Quite often previous candidates will offer support to new candidates and often say that they still refer to some of their work for the PDA as they are excellent reference materials.

The candidate/new member of staff also has the benefit of a dedicated assessor to discuss practice issues and the course material they are working on, in addition to the Senior Practitioner or colleagues in their team. This provides another source of support for a new Assistant/Reporter.

What topics does the PDA cover? Do colleagues have to complete assignments/exams?
The PDA provides an agreed standard for all Reporters to work towards. The Award covers all areas of the Reporter’s role across seven units. Assistant Reporters complete two of the units which cover all aspects of their role. This provides candidates with a thorough knowledge of their role and the ability to evidence their competence, knowledge and understanding through assignments, presentations, professional discussion with their assessor and direct observations of their practice.

The main areas covered include:

  • The Assistant Reporter/Reporter operating in the system and being aware of the roles and responsibilities of all agencies and other participants in the context of the child.
  • The Reporter operating effectively in the assessment, identification and decision making on referrals received.
  • The Assistant Reporter/Reporter operating effectively within Children’s Hearings.
  • The Reporter operating effectively in court.

Which members of staff have to complete it and how long do they get to achieve it?
The programme is currently delivered to Trainee Reporters, newly appointed Reporters and Assistant Reporters who secure a permanent contract. Depending on their work pattern, a Reporter candidate working full time will have two years to complete the Award. Those with a contract of two years or more are able to be put forward for the PDA by their Locality Reporter Manager and if there is assessor capacity they may be able to undertake the Award on an elective basis.

Do staff get support as they complete it?
An assessor is assigned to each candidate to support, guide and assess their work throughout the programme. The assessor group are made up of experienced Reporters, Senior Practitioners and Locality Reporter Managers who provide ongoing support and guidance to the candidates. The assessors support the training the candidate receives within their team and practice training. The assessors meet every two months to ensure that their methods of assessment are standardised across the group by using case sampling and similar tools. We also review the materials and ensure that it remains relevant and up to date.

The Award is very much a development award, and if a candidate has a training need identified at any point during their studies, this will be fed into supervision with their Locality Reporter Manager and become part of their personal development plan. The practice training core modules directly link to the materials and units of the PDA and support the candidate’s use of practice direction and their own research. Each unit has an allocation of study days which varies depending on the course content and amount in total to 49 days. There is an expectation that some personal reading will take place in a candidate’s own time but the study days are a good resource and with good assessment planning with their assessor, the candidate can ensure most work is completed within the allocated time. The study days are an excellent way to ensure candidate’s continue to learn and develop during those early years of their career.

Share this: