BACP recognises and values different entry routes to the counselling and psychotherapy profession. The diverse range of backgrounds, approaches, philosophies and professional training that our members bring to their work is a huge strength of BACP, and we believe SCoPEd would further enhance and embed that diversity. Ensuring fair access to the profession is critically important for trainees and clients, and a key part of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy.

Some members have asked us if they would have to complete higher and expensive training as part of their professional development to move between columns. We’ve been able to reassure them that this is not the case. The gateways within the draft SCoPEd framework mean that members would be able to progress between columns by evidencing their knowledge and skills if they choose to do so, without having to retrain.

Unlike many professions that have moved away from vocational training and put an emphasis on academic levels of achievement in order to gain professional recognition, the draft SCoPEd framework protects and encourages those who undertake vocational training.

Far from disadvantaging those who cannot afford a more academic route, the draft framework sets out in very clear terms the huge range of skills of those who do undertake vocational trainings. We have never been able to represent those skills as clearly as we can now, with the column A competences and practice standards. We know these vocational trainings attract a more diverse student group – diverse in terms of class, social and economic status, culturally, educationally and in many other ways too. They are more affordable, more accessible (both geographically and in other ways) and sit very close to the communities they serve. This is a fantastic feature of our training landscape that we value highly, and SCoPEd would support and strengthen that.

The draft framework will enable members who enter via this route to access other columns via mechanisms that enable them to evidence having acquired further knowledge, skills and competence without having to embark on higher-level academic training, which may be expensive. This is currently very difficult, if not impossible, in some cases. As the framework is currently in draft form, we’re not able to provide the details of these gateways or mechanisms. We’re committed to communicating these to members once developed.

While it is likely that top-up trainings will emerge to help people access other columns, there will also be other routes for those who acquire the competence and experience in other ways. This is where the framework would foster and enable diversity in ways that are more flexible. Furthermore, BACP is developing a full EDI strategy that will actively support progression for those who may have started with a vocational diploma mapped to column A and who wish to benchmark themselves to another column.

The skills and abilities of those in column A have never been captured or understood so clearly and this is something to celebrate as it will enable BACP to advocate for access to more paid opportunities. The SCoPEd framework embeds the principle of progression for all, rather than offering a single entry point, as in some other professions, and this, over time, will help increase diversity at every level.

Suky Kaur, Head of Stakeholders Relations at BACP, says, ‘It’s vitally important that we work to remove barriers to entry to the profession and look at what representation should look like, so that the profession can reflect and serve the public. We need to ensure that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to train and thrive; therefore we’ll look to pilot a bursary scheme to support fully paid access to training at entry level and also to enable progression within the profession, alongside supporting trainees with mentoring support.’