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In consideration of the content of this piece of work with an adult learner, I was referred to, who for the purposes of this document will be called John, I identified a number of areas of interest in the way that he was treated and the issues he faced after choosing to change his career and become a Police Officer at 53 years of age. Through discussion with John, his supervisors and peers, I identified a number of interesting issues in this complex case study, as not only does John have to deal with the complex and unpredictable learning experience that adult learners can face when returning to study (Haggis, 2002), but also the added pressure of having to learn a new job, cope with technology, retain high levels of fitness and study all within a set timeframe or risk losing his job without any means of appeal. I intend to describe the difficulties faced by john and the support mechanism (or lack of) that are in place for him. I also intend to analyse if the equal opportunity policies of the bodies that are there to ensure inclusiveness for Police Officers are effective.
John was referred to me by his Sergeant, because he was' slow' and struggled with the use of ICT; this affected how he performed within his role as a Police Probationer. John was contacted and we arranged to meet at the Force training centre, away from his normal work place.
He had just completed the compulsory 15 weeks at the Scottish Police College and was one of the oldest recruits in the Colleges History. His time at the college was difficult due to family commitments, but he worked hard to achieve the required fitness levels and pass all his exams, allowing him to pass out alongside his peers.
On returning to the Force he completed two weeks mandatory post ITC training which covered the IT applications that were required for his role. He found the ITC difficult but didn't think that he had struggled anymore than anyone else - although he admitted that he was slow.
Prior to joining the police he had never used a computer and had only recently purchased one so that he could practice at home. His keyboard skills were poor and he didn't understand what would be deemed as 'the basics'. This lack of knowledge had a detrimental effect on his work performance, making it difficult to perform some of the simplest tasks such as replying to e-mail, and attaching statements. Additionally, he was missing deadlines, which potentially could result in his cases, being thrown out by the procurator fiscal.
John felt the main problem was his typing skills, lack of knowledge with saving documents and knowing where to file them. During our session he was shown' the basics' to ease the pressure at work. Another session was recommended, however, he was due to start a compulsory four week long police driving course, but stated he would contact me as soon as it finished. He was given links to a number of websites to allow him to practice his typing skills at home and also a number of step by step guides to assist him. After four weeks, I contacted John but he was unable to commit any time due to studying and pressures of work.
His Supervisor was advised and confirmed that John was now on an action plan because operationally he needed to take on more of a workload. Unfortunately, for a Police Officer, an action plan during the two year probationary period can mean the start of a process known as Regulation 13.
Subject to the provisions of this regulation, during his period of probation in the force the services of a constable may be dispensed with at any time if the chief officer considers that he is not fitted, physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or that he is not likely to become an efficient or well conducted constable. www.opsi.gov.uk
This means that a Police Constable can be dismissed within the two year probationary period without any right to appeal. Not only did this put John under immense pressure, it also meant that he had no extra time to get the IT support that he desperately needed.
Outline of policies
The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 came into force from 1 October 2006, making it unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their age (This has now be superseded by the Equality Act 2010)
Police forces could no longer set a maximum upper age for new recruits and working hand in hand with forces and the Police Colleges, equality policies should in practice, ensure a more inclusive workforce. However, whilst Police forces and Colleges adhere to the legal requirement, it has to be questioned whether their policies are inclusive.
The vision of Inclusiveness is that although learners come from a wide ranging diverse background with individual needs; they should still be able to have their needs, abilities and aspirations recognised, understood and met within a supportive environment. In such an environment students should make real progress and achieve their goals. (Beattie, 1999).
Like, like all recruits John had to undergo a rigorous selection process to confirm that he was deemed a suitable recruit. However at no point throughout the process were his individual needs catered for.
Inclusion means treating people fairly, but not necessarily treating people the same. It is about receiving fair treatment, that is, a response which meets individual needs (HMIe, 2006)
He was required to undergo 15 weeks training at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan.Students are expected to reside on campus on week days, while this is not compulsory, they are not advised of this fact . The reasoning behind this approach is that travelling might impact negatively on necessary study time, additionally; there would be less opportunity to bond with other students. This unwritten rule has been critisised by (HMIC, 2007). (Putnam, 2000) Refers to this type of social capital as bonding (exclusive), it can be argued that a sense of belonging and the concrete experience of social networks (and the relationships of trust and tolerance that can be involved) bring great benefits to people.
However this policy is exclusive as it restricts certain individuals such as: single parents, those parents whose partners work away from home or have no extended family from applying to join the Police.
Policy also dictates the length of time that the training of a Police Constable will take and there is no flexibility with certain aspects of the training. For example after fifteen weeks, each recruit that successfully passes out from the Police college, is then required to attend at their respective force to receive two weeks Post ITC training, prior to be allocated a station to work from. However, there is no flexibility in that time scale, therefore when it was identified that John was slower than others, there was no opportunity to give extra tuition or support prior to 'going live'.
Discussion of issues arising
John decided to join the police at an age when most Police Officers are either considering or forced into retirement. Regulation A19, which is contained in the Police Pensions Regulations 1987, states that officers who have served 30 years or more can be "required to retire" if their retention would "not be in the general interests of efficiency".
As career and job changes are now common place, adults today must be capable of obtaining and digesting new information to be able to survive. There are a number of misconceptions about the impact that age has on our ability to learn, and memory, however, if a person is fit and healthy they should be able to continue to learn in adulthood. (Withnall, 2004). That said it is widely accepted that the transfer of learning to the workplace will only occur when the trainee has both the ability and motivation to acquire and apply new skills. (Wexley, 1991)
It has been suggested that adults who choose to leave one life world to enter the
world of learning face the 'existential anxiety' (Barnett, 1999, p. 38) of 'inhabiting two discourses at once' (Elliott, 1999, p. 24)
Furthermore, the admission of
being in a state of learning can amount to an unsettling disclosure of lack of
knowledge, especially to one's organisation and work colleagues. In such
circumstances, according to Barnett, learning opportunities can be perceived
bythe individual as threatening. There are also contradictions flowing from being an
adult and a student at the same time. The adult identity is autonomous, responsible
and mature whereas that of the student identity is incomplete, dependent and in
Journal of Further and Higher Education 89
Barnett, R. 1999. Learning to work and working to learn. In Understanding learning at work,
ed. D. Boud and J. Garrick. London: Routledge.
Boud, D., and N. Solomon. 2003. ''I don't think I am a learner'': Acts of naming learners at
work. Journal of Workplace Learning 15, no. 7&8: 326-31.
Boud, D., and C. Symes. 2000. Learning for real: Work-based education in universities. In
Working knowledge: The new vocationalism and higher education, ed. C. Symes and J.
McIntyre, 14-29. Buckingham: Open University Press.
In addition to the adult/student tension, Boud and Solomon observe a further set
of contradictions that arise between worker and learner. Their findings emerged from
a study of four occupational groups engaged in workplace learning and explore the
way they spoke about learning using metaphor to try to avoid the tension of being
both worker and learner at the same time. They suggest 'that having an identity as a
learner may not be compatible with being regarded as a competent worker' (Boud and
Solomon 2003, 326). They suggest that the problem of 'naming oneself as a learner' is
complex and contains issues relating to position, recognition and power.
Police probationers are given appraisals at 6,12,18 and 24 month periods, this appraisal is given by the Sergeant, based on feedback from the Probationers Tutor Constable, it also includes information from the Scottish Police College. Johns appraisal from the College showed a glowing report of an officer who was highly motivated and seen as a leader by some of the other recruits, however on returning to the force the appraisal indicate that Johns performance had dipped. His Tutor constable was a younger dynamic officer who reportedly got frustrated at constantly being asked questions, therefore, John stopped asking for his assistance and appeared to lack motivation. Despite the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, there is evidence that stereotypical age discrimination still exists within police forces (Redman, 2006)
Our findings suggest that police officers experienced a negative effect of perceived age discrimination on job and life satisfaction, perceived power and prestige of the job, and affective and normative commitment. These findings provide considerable support for the view that age discrimination acts as a stressor, with adverse psychological consequences. (Redman, 2006)
Additionally, there have been studies of appraisal performance showing that older employees receive lower performance ratings than their younger colleagues (Saks, 1998). It has also been suggested that negative stereotypes held by the appraiser may override the actual performance when determining appraisal outcomes. Evidence also indicates that older employees are more likely to experience discrimination in access to training and development. (Newton, 2005)
(Keep, 1989) argues that investment in training sends a powerful message, which reassures employees that they are valued, this in turn enhances employee motivation and commitment to the organisation.
Predudices and stereotypes
Being singled out
HMIE's inclusion reference manual stresses the importance of inclusion in life long learning because it allows the learner a as not only does it relate to engagement and involvement in specific activities and experiences at the current time, it also enables future and continuing participation and involvement in the community, and personal development and empowerment.
Additionally, it confirms that defines equity as meaning that treating people It also equity is about treating people fairly and according to their individual needs.
does not necessarily mean receiving the same treatment. The term 'equity' tends to imply 'natural justice' rather than a legislative approach.
'Adult education must not be regarded as a luxury for a few exceptional persons here and there, nor a thing which concerns on a short span of early manhood, but that adult education is a permanent national necessity, an inseperable aspect of citizenship, and therefore should be both universal and lifelong' ((1919), 1956)