If you are a legal practice interested in helping your support staff – those in front line contact with clients – to build their skills in client service management, time is running out on a fully government funded initiative that probably gives you what you want.
As a legal practice, you can put 15 or more of your own support staff (provided they don’t already have higher level qualifications like a university degree) through this programme; or you could collaborate with other local legal practices to get at least 15 candidates together. That would work too, with a minimum of 3 people from each practice so that co-workers can share their thinking, support each other and introduce new initiatives.
This is available to people of all ages now, but anyone aged 24 years or above will not be eligible for this funding after 31st July 2013; so if you want total flexibility in who should take part, you need to apply and be accepted by that date. There is a pre-assessment, so we’ve set a final deadline for applications to be received by 12 July to allow enough time.
This is a 12-month Diploma in Legal Client Service Management whereby your people will need to attend just 2 or 3 workshops out of the office during the year (so there is minimal disruption at work) to learn new techniques; then they are assigned a tutor to work with them on directed assignments based on service improvement themes. Then they are helped to apply this to their job roles and working environment. I would think that ongoing engagement with a tutor focused on factors that impact on service would have substantial value in any legal practice today – enabling you to develop “Client Service Champions” who can focus on this and influence others.
As part of the training process, Personal Learning and Training Skills (PLTS) are explored and evaluated. These are generic skills that are essential to life, learning and work. PLTS have a significant impact on ability to make a confident contribution, both within and outside of the delegates working environment. They comprise six groups of skills:
- Independent enquiry
- Effective participation
- Team working
- Reflective learning
- Creative thinking
Typically evidence to demonstrate these skills will occur naturally during the programme. This is mapped at outset and it will be the role of the tutor to plan, support and log evidence.
NVQs are assessed at work or in a simulated workplace. The tutor will plan for each unit or theme with the candidates, then observe and ask questions as they perform a task. In addition, they will create, under guidance, a portfolio of work which will provide evidence of learning and application in the workplace. This might include written statements, testimonials from line managers, emails or other organisational documentation, customer feedback – even video and voice recordings. Once complete, this will confirm that the candidate has got the skills to do the job well.
- An online assessment tool called Smart Assessor enables candidates to manage all aspects of their programmes. Smart Assessor is a web-based system used by Rocket to report and manage progress throughout the programme.
- With Smart Assessor, everything is online. Rather than working with bulky paper portfolios, learners and assessors access a web-based e-portfolio that contains all their relevant course materials.
- Individual users upload NVQ evidence and VRQ assignments to the system allowing those involved in the learning process to plan, give feedback, assess, verify and finally award the qualification.
- Smart Assessor offers flexibility, customisation and total security for each programme and every learner on that programme.
Functional Skills are assessed through simple online tests. Initially candidates will complete a diagnostic assessment to identify if they have any development needs. If there is no further development needed, they can have a go at some sample tests before completing their final assessment. Where the diagnostic indicates particular development is required in either Maths or English, the course tutor will discuss how this can be provided most effectively by understanding personal learning preferences, before entering a candidate for final assessment.
If you want to explore this further, the first steps to take:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 929 8355 to let us know that your practice is potentially interested, with an estimate of the number of support staff you want to involve. (minimum of 3)
- Complete an “expression of interest” form – which we will send to you on request.
- Potential candidates and their manager/s (or similar) would attend a 1 to 1½ hour “Discovery Workshop” to make sure they really want to do it.