Framework Fantasies: Continuous Professional Development
Much has been said about Continuous Professional Development. The government and ALS/Capita keep repeating that one of the “problems” with the “old system” was that interpreters did not do CPD. While it’s true CPD was not compulsory, most of us attended CPD courses frequently and invested quite a lot of time and money on improving our skills.
Just to give you an example, in the last year I attended: a 60-hour course on Interpreting and Child Protection, a 25-hour training on Interpreting in Mental Health, several one-day workshops on remote interpreting, several one-day workshops on criminal law and medical interpreting, 2 webinars in my source language, not to mention several conferences on interpreting and/or translation and quite a few workshops and webinars on translation related topics.
I also know I am not the only one to take CPD very seriously, many RPSIs understand that CPD is an important element of our careers and believe that we should keep up to date and seek to raise standards.
In the last week of May I attended one of ALS’s “CPD workshops”.
The trainer was David Joseph who, according to his own admission, has been reading many books and academic papers on interpreting “in the last few months”, but doesn’t have experience of legal interpreting and therefore lacks the practical knowledge of the job.
Of the 21 people who attended the “CPD workshop” only 3 were registered interpreters. When Joseph asked the group who had experience in statement taking, only 3 people (RPSIs) raised their hands. The other 18 were bilingual people, a few were translators, some were students, some had the Community Interpreting Course Level 2/3, a couple sat the DPSI but failed some of the units, some had other qualifications unrelated to interpreting/translation. Most started working in courts in February when they registered with ALS, and before that had never been to a court. Many had a poor level of English, and some didn’t seem to know what direct speech is.
Many admitted openly they were intimidated and nervous when they work in Crown Courts and that they are “scared” when standing behind “the glass”.
The whole training was based on an analogy between interpreters and air traffic controllers. Joseph said “the interpreter is the air traffic controller, and the judge or Chief Inspector is the pilot.”
Joseph divided the interpreting session in 3 parts:
1. Take off - How to prepare for the interpreting session. He mentioned things linguists need to prepare before the journey and what they should take with them to an assignment. Once in court, he advised them to isolate themselves.
2. The flight – the interpreting session. Joseph presented some basic principles of interpreting plus some courtesy ideas, e.g. not to offend the bench and to respect physical privacy. He also said we ought to “translate and not interpret.”
3. Landing – after the interpreting session. Joseph explained what to do with the notes and timesheets.
Joseph gave interpreters what he called an “introduction to parties” leaflet. (Please see below) He said all ALS interpreters must carry this leaflet with them at all times and always read the introduction.
Joseph then proceeded to explain how interpreters should take statements in police stations. He handed out Witness Statement Forms and explained how to fill them in.
Joseph said ALS would implement a CPD programme, and that over the next 4 years many CPD workshops like this one will take place. David Joseph has now left ALS.
This is what the Framework Agreement says about Continuous Professional Development (Page 11):
“1.10 The Contractor will ensure that the Interpreter/Translator attend continuous professional development training and, where appropriate, undertake training in specialist areas relevant to the provision of tier 1 and tier 2 requirements.”
On April 29th 2012 ALS said the following:
“Assigning qualified and experienced linguists to assignments and insisting on continuous professional development, while reducing operational inefficiencies, remains our focus.”
On 30th April 2012 Jonathan Djanogly, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said:
“Under the current Ministry of Justice agreement relating to language services, the contractor must ensure the continuous training and development of interpreters and all interpreters are required to abide by a comprehensive code of conduct which emphasises that they should only undertake assignments for which they are competent.”
I do not know what Jonathan Djanogly considers to be “continuous training and development”, but what I saw at ALS’s workshop at the end of May was certainly not continuous professional development, it was basic interpreting training. The things covered in this workshop are what an interpreter learns in the first couple of weeks of the DPSI preparation course. It’s basic interpreting skills/knowledge and one would think that anyone working in court, or anywhere, as an interpreter, would know this.
Would you employ a solicitor and then provide basic training?
Is this really the “CPD” ALS proudly announced on their website? Is this really the CPD the MoJ keeps mentioning?
It simply cannot be CPD by definition, and yet again ALS promised the MoJ something they wanted to hear, something ALS linguists lack – that very same thing professional interpreters of the previous system diligently followed.
(Below is the ALS leaflet in Russian)