October 5, 2021

Advisory Panel on Probation Learning: Bringing Innovation and Expertise

Sonia Flynn CBE
Chief Probation Officer

In this article, Sonia Flynn CBE, Chief Probation Officer, talks about the establishment of a new advisory panel, helping to shape and bring innovation to learning and development for the Probation workforce.

The Advisory Panel on Probation Learning (APPL) was established in 2021 and comprises of academics, partners, voluntary sector organisations, senior leaders, and people with lived experience of probation, bringing together subject matter expertise and innovative thinking from across the Criminal Justice System. This is the first of what we hope will be a series of blogs from panel members in which we want to share some of the topics covered, the challenges we face and the exciting opportunities that are arising through working together.

The Advisory Panel provides the Probation Learning Design Faculty (part of the Probation Workforce Programme) with the opportunity to seek input into the development of a learning product at an early stage, utilising expert advice right from a product's conception. Since the start of the year the panel has met four times and has covered a wide and varied range of topics related to probation learning.

An example of how the advice of the panel has already had an impact is in the development of a learning product on Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) for probation staff. The panel advised across a range of areas including recommendations on improving links with the College of Policing, incorporating content around unconscious bias into the product, developing staff confidence in presenting at multi-agency settings, and how to ensure that the voice of the person on probation is heard within the MAPPA process.

For each new learning product, working groups established to support its development and the Design Team are keen for these groups to include representation from different grades of probation staff. If you are a practitioner who would be interested in being involved in supporting the development of future learning and development products, then look out for opportunities in Probation News.

In addition to providing expertise on individual learning products, the Advisory Panel also advises on wider learning considerations for example:

  • The PQIP curriculum for trainee probation officers
  • Continuous professional development
  • Developing a learning culture in the organisation
  • Diversity, equality and belonging considerations in probation learning and development

It has been invaluable to have such a range of views and expertise from the Panel’s broad membership, using expertise from both in and outside of the Probation Service  to inform our thinking on these big questions. For example, the panel has helped the Probation Workforce Programme in thinking through the evidence base for the skills and knowledge that are most effective in probation practice and has supported the understanding of where the evidence is strongest.

Stay tuned for further updates on the work of the APPL through the Insights blog.

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