Thames Reach
Friday 17 November 2017
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Monitoring progress

Photo of a former trainee
Mark Whiteford, a former service user trainee, is now a project worker at Thames Reach's Robertson Street hostel

All organisations should have some way in which to assess a service user trainee’s progress and development. Your assessment tools could take a variety of forms, e.g. a series of key areas, list of tasks or a set of competencies. 

Thames Reach’s experience

The creation of a service user employment project propelled Thames Reach towards the development of a comprehensive assessment tool – a 'competencies framework' – to assess trainees' progress and identify gaps in learning and development. (The full framework can be downloaded from the traineeship resources page.)

The set of core competencies describe the behaviours, skills and knowledge trainees are expected to develop to enable them to gain employment in their designated role (e.g. support worker, IT administrator) at the end of the traineeship.

The competencies are designed to interlink. This encourages a holistic approach to the learning and development process.

We also hoped that piloting the new framework within the GROW project would lay the foundation for developing and rolling out of the competencies framework across the whole organisation.

The framework consists of:

  • Guidelines on how to work with the framework
  • Set of trainee/support work competencies
  • Competencies table: a snapshot of progress
  • Set of grids to record work completed
  • 3, 6 and 9 month review sheets

All trainees, placement supervisors, placement team managers and life coaches received training on the how to implement the framework.

Lessons learnt

Case study: Implementing the competency framework

The competency framework was extremely useful and very clearly set out. As a template it needed only a little adjustment and clarification for the trainee to make it work.

Hackney 180, Thames Reach’s day centre, made the competencies work by urging the trainee not to think about it for the first two to three weeks, and instead concentrate on getting to know the service. Once this initial period had elapsed the competency framework was then discussed formally with an eye to ensuring that:

  • The framework is clear

  • Both trainee and placement supervisor are working to the same goals

  • Dates and targets are being set for 3 and 6 month reviews

  • The trainee is offered the chance to give feedback and reflect on practice

  • How the competency framework fits into the Hackney 180 induction is assessed

The placement supervisor attended planning meetings within Thames Reach to assess the effectiveness of the framework at different stages during the placement. This enabled positive feedback from the team’s experience to be reported, and gave him the chance to learn from other teams' experience of accommodating a trainee into the framework and their project.

Both the trainee and the placement supervisor found the competency framework to be clear and the colour coded layout bright and helpful.

"The framework may need some additional work to accommodate more experienced staff simply being inducted into a new organisation and developing skills in a new role. They will need to recognise that there is a difference between such a worker and a trainee coming in fresh."

Martin Harris, Day Services Co-ordinator, Hackney 180