We'll never stand alone

November 17, 1995

In his article on probation training (THES, November 3) Mike Nellis is correct to assert that probation training should remain within higher education. However, his view that the arguments against the changes proposed by higher education have been "confusing and misguided" is wrong.

The issue of whether probation training within higher education is better situated in social work departments or other subject areas such as criminology is ultimately an academic issue and for universities and practitioners themselves to debate.

Probation training in universities is still bound by the statutory requirement for new probation officers to possess the diploma in social work (a requirement which the Government is now seeking to overturn). Teaching quality assessments have confirmed that much of the provision in social work departments is of the highest quality.

The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals has not confused the issues; it is precisely because these are academic issues in which the Government should not be involved that we continue to oppose the proposed changes to probation training. Our case has rested on the argument that probation training, like other areas of high-level professional education and training, is properly located within higher education.

We have not sought to set limits on how this should be achieved as this is quite properly a matter for individual institutions to determine in partnership with the probation service. The decision on November 7 to grant the National Association of Probation Officers leave to seek a judicial review of the proposed changes gives us all further opportunity, together, to focus our efforts on convincing the Government of the strength of our case.

Gareth Roberts

Chairman, CVCP

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