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Knowledge and Skills Framework

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The Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) is the career development tool that was launched as part of the new pay system for the NHS, Agenda for Change.

It will ensure every member of staff gets annual appraisals with agreed set targets because it is linked to annual development reviews and personal development plans.

Employers have to draw up a KSF outline that benchmarks the skills and knowledge that an employee would be expected to achieve to do their job competently. It identifies what is lacking and ensures training to help the employee improve.

It covers six dimensions that are defined as being ‘core’ to all NHS jobs: communication; personal and people development; health, safety and security; service development; quality; and equality, diversity and rights.

There are another 24 dimensions that can be added to each outline depending on the nurse’s responsibilities, grouped under four headings: health and well-being; information and knowledge; general; and estates and facilities.

A bonus of the system is that nurses are guaranteed an annual appraisal, something that not everyone had before Agenda for Change.

Under the KSF, nurses will have their development assessed at an annual review in which they will spend time with their manager looking back at what they have done to develop their skills in the past 12 months as well as discussing their training needs for the coming year.

The KSF also allows nurses to start moving up the points of the pay bands as it provides the basis for pay progression.

Alongside the KSF, there are ‘gateways’ by which an employee moves up the pay band in they have been placed.

The idea is that each pay band has two points or gateways, which serve as a trigger. When a person reaches those points, this means an automatic assessment of their knowledge and skills using elements of the KSF. If the person is judged to be doing their job well and is competent, then they move through the gateway and up the pay band.

The KSF should promote equality for all staff because every member of staff uses the same framework, has the same opportunities for learning and development open to them and has the same structured approach to learning, development and review.

It also promotes effectiveness at work because managers and staff should be clear about what is required within a post and how an individual can be more effective thanks to appropriate learning and development opportunities.

Updated: September 2006

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