A Critical Review: Integrating Knowledge and Practice

Published 13/03/2002
Type Article
Author(s) Sarah Jarvis
Corresponding Authors Sarah Jarvis, West Yorkshire Probation Service

Now having completed a ‘Rolls Royce’ training programme (Schofield, 1999) the time has come to critically review the product of this new probation training. Have I become the ‘paragon’ of reflective practice that probation trainers dream of? Or rather the Frankenstein creation of a trainee production line, a Home Office automaton, as the most cynical of service colleagues would dare to suggest? The new probation training has been described by some as, ‘too good, too thorough, too complex and too expensive’ (ibid), but its innovation has been its approach to the integration of learning and working. The training combines a degree with a Level 4 National Vocational Qualification and has sought to encapsulate the skills, knowledge and values of probation officers, as defined by both employers and employees, over a two-year period of work-based learning. The following review of my experiences as a student, trainee and employee over the last two years will attempt to provide an account of my professional development located within the framework of the training programme. Furthermore, this review will explore my experience of a programme that has sought to combine the development of criticality, reflection and analysis with a competency-based approach. This dual aim in many ways replicates dilemmas inherent in current probation practice where practitioners are similarly faced with the constant balancing of conflicting priorities.