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The new probation training: realising the potential

Nellis, M. (2001) The new probation training: realising the potential. Social Work Education, 20 (4). pp. 415-432. ISSN 0261-5479

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A new probation training qualification, separate from social work but still connected to higher education, was created in England and Wales in 1997 and undoubtedly has the potential to produce more knowledgeable and better skilled officers than its generic predecessors. Whether this potential is realised depends on a proper balance being struck between the intellectual integrity of the higher education component (an undergraduate degree) and the practice demands of the probation service (a 12-module NVQ). Given the managerialist pressures on the probation service, and indeed on higher education itself, it is not certain that the potential will be realised. Debate on the nature of the integration between the intellectual and practical components of the qualification has thus far been poorly conceptualised. This paper seeks to extend debate by distinguishing between "underpinning" and "overarching" knowledge and thereby to strengthen and legitimate the position of higher education in the new arrangements.