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melody defi ned by both our profession and the contexts for practice. Confl icts of interest may arise in this dance due to real world constraints on time and money and the professional benchmarks that AFT and the UKCP set as irreducible standards. This creates a context of pressure on existing standards; for example, to reduce requirements or break up courses into smaller and cheaper units. Economic and political changes impact on the profi le of the workforce, widening access for some, but reducing it for others. The courses are currently set at post-graduate and post- qualifying level and are designed to be a dual professional qualifi cation. Changes to workforces and workplace profi les create emerging needs for training frameworks that can refl ect the changing workforce without losing the professionalism and high standards that AFT aspires to uphold through rigorous and accountable course- delivery. Tensions also arise when courses need to design fl exible training-delivery to meet some local training need that may not meet current national guidance; for example, for duration, criteria for entry, content etc. For these reasons, consultation, planning and review of the training framework needs to happen more frequently than it has in the past where, for example, one set of accreditation guidance was in place for ten years. The pace of change in today’s professional and political contexts requires responsive coordinated action, albeit without being reactionary. A wide and inclusive scope to


consultation and co-ordination assists in mediating confl icts of interest that arise in the spaces between rigour and fl exibility. In CRED work, we have tried to coordinate with these tensions through dialogue within the CRED committee as well as between CRED and courses who are applying for and undergoing accreditation. We need to focus our work on the current mandate and guidance for training courses as well as keep in mind the potentials within diff erence and diversity. As we are responsible for ensuring parity, equal opportunities, and conformity with UKCP requirements, we cannot re-interpret guidance. We are mindful that too loose an interpretation of the guidance and recommendations could be seen as creating contexts for inconsistent or discriminatory CRED practices of accreditation. Our focus has


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been on protecting existing standards and practices for training in family therapy and systemic practice, and keeping these at the heart of discussions and recommendations. In representing all interests, we seek to work with courses to engage in dialogue and coordination around these contexts of rigour for course accreditation.


Developing CRED practices to create refl exive dialogues


To achieve this, we draw upon systemic


values, practices and discourses in three ways: being transparent, being collaborative, and engaging in refl exive dialogue. We see this as a long-term developmental process, one which we inherited from the many conscientious colleagues who came before us and who we continue to work alongside in CRED. Our story here is simply a recent punctuation of a long-standing tradition of evolving culture and practice in CRED, within AFT.


1. Being transparent In our own experience of applying for


accreditation of our courses, we were reminded how the evaluation context brings forth a modernist discourse and, with it, anticipation of a critical, expert gaze, hierarchical power-relationships and responses which speak to those discourses. For this reason, we try to talk about the talk in ways that invite transparency about the impact of an evaluative context on us as colleagues and peers. We invite such transparent talking as a way to begin to construct relationships during the accreditation process, which enables us to move from an objectifying context towards an inter-subjective approach to the task. In this process, we seek to move towards a post-modern interpretation of evaluation as a construction within an evolving reflexive-discourse that can be talked about in a transparent way. In this process, we enable a movement towards a relational understanding and from a representational or objectifying understanding, through shared subjectivity (Hoffman, 2007, p. 9).


2. Being collaborative We draw upon the collaborative


approach of Harlene Anderson (1999, 2007) in educational settings to invite


empowering relationships between CRED panellists and courses during the accreditation process. Within the constraints of a framework of quality, we try to find spaces in which we can negotiate how we go on together in the process in ways that are facilitative. We want to enable course staff and students to engage in constructive ways with the evaluation discourse, and to see our voices as making a contribution to the development of the course. For example: • At the beginning, we might invite participants to engage in a refl ective conversation about what courses want to achieve through our dialogue, including preferences for a particular focus or kinds of feedback which may be useful to courses


• Thinking about ways to highlight and share examples of good practice


• Making the accreditation report and process iterative so that changes made in response to feedback are accommodated into the fi nal report. • Creating refl ective spaces in the process so that learning through refl exive dialogues can be generated both for course participants and for CRED.


3. Inviting refl exive dialogue about accreditations As part of developing refl exive practices


in CRED, we seek to create spaces where we can be taught by participants’ experiences of the accreditation. In a chapter on ‘standards’, bell hooks (2003, pp. 75-76) describes how the culture of standard setting can construct hierarchical contexts of power, dominant and subordinate groupings. She challenges this polarisation, saying, “In actuality, to intervene in dominator culture, to live consciously, we must be willing to share with anyone knowledge about how to make the transition from a dominant model to a partnership model. If we want to change, we must be willing to teach”. In CRED, we seek to understand how we, as a group of panellists and committee members, can keep to the foreground ideas about constructive accreditation, and to do this through learning with participants, peers and colleagues about how to achieve a partnership model at the same time as conforming to professional standardisation. In this way, we hope to contribute to a culture of empowerment for all voices and participants in these


Context February 2012


Refl exive dialogues in CRED accreditations


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