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School Risk Management CPD

Stages of Competence for School Risk Management

This informal CPD article Stages of Competence for School Risk Management was provided by David Gregory at Xcursion, a risk management training provider focused on school excursion & activity safety.

Today we’re going to look at the different stages of competency for any skill that you might be developing. So why is this important for risk management?

In terms of understanding the level of competency, we can understand where our staff and our team members are at in their understanding of risk and what sort of training and development they need to move to the next level and ultimately gain mastery and really understand what they need to do when managing any sort of risk and applying it to good decision making in the field. Let’s start with the four stages of competency.

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence

You don’t know what you don’t know! Everybody starts at this point whenever they’re starting a new skill. No matter what it is, we all start at some point. That’s where we don’t know anything about this new skill where we’re kind of feeling awkward and kind of hesitant to try and get to the next level. It is the most difficult phase to move from the unconscious incompetence to the next phase, which is the conscious incompetence.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence

We essentially go from not knowing what we don’t know to knowing there’s a huge amount that we must know to effectively develop a skill or apply that skill to whatever context. This is where the most frustration and growth happens as we know we need to understand so much more and we realise the skills we have don’t cover it adequately. The next stage from there is conscious competence.

Stage 3: Conscious Competence

This stage means we’ve done a lot of training, we’ve upskilled, we’ve built systems and we’ve put systems in place to be able to effectively be competent in the skill or task. Or in terms of risk management, we can effectively and competently manage risk. We’re still going to be using prompts, hints, lists and a range of things like that to help us along the way and we still require further experience and training. However, this is where it’s really good to have confident, competent staff in this area, because then they self-manage into the next stage.

Stage 4: Unconscious Competence

The final stage is unconscious competence. You basically just do the activity or do the action without even thinking about it. If you’ve ever been to a piano concert, and the concert pianist is on stage. There is no music, and they’re just playing. They’re just attacking the keyboard, and they go up and down that piano feverishly. The music that is being created is passionate, emotive, and amazing. This is unconscious competence at its best. It is someone who is feeling and living that music. That’s ultimately where we want to be for any of our skills.

Originally, when I first started to learn to ski, I was in this unconscious incompetence, didn’t know anything and was falling over all the time. However, through practice and experience, I built my way up through different stages. I’m sure you’re the same with all sorts of activities in your own life. However, for risk management, because it’s so new to people, people are often quite surprised as to what they actually have to do to effectively manage risk.

To move from one stage to the next to the next, it’s really important to have an idea of what training is needed and have that progression planned out for you and your staff to ensure that you can build that culture of risk management within your school or organisation. You can get your teachers on board, understanding what they need to do and providing those training opportunities for them to do it. From there, you can develop their skills through each of those different stages, from unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence, to conscious competence, and right up to the ideal place of unconscious competence, where they just know what to do no matter what the situation is, and they make great decisions in the field. As a result you can be confident that they are running safe and effective programs for your students all the time.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Xcursion, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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