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Knowledge and Skills Framework

To support career progression and personal development, the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) forms a key part of Agenda for Change. The KSF is linked to annual development reviews of all NHS staff and personal development plans. All nursing staff should have a personal development plan and their development will be checked against two gateways on the pay spine.

Aims of the KSF

The aim is that all staff should:

  • have clear and consistent development objectives
  • be helped to develop in such a way that they can apply the knowledge and skills appropriate to their level of responsibility
  • be helped to identify and develop knowledge and skills that will support their career progression.

The expectation is that most nurses will progress on an annual incremental basis.

Pay progression update

Following agreement at the NHS Staff Council, there are changes to pay progression and increments, in England only, that impact on the use of KSF at the workplace in the NHS.  A copy of the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook 2014 Annex W (England): Pay Progression can be found on the NHS Employers website.

Guidance review

Simplified guidance on the KSF was issued in 2010, making it more flexible and easier to use. The guidance, developed by the NHS Staff Council, includes a range of tools, templates and FAQs.

The review has not altered the KSF but makes it clearer that the KSF can now be tailored and adapted to meet local needs and integrated with local performance indicators. The main elements that have changed in the recent KSF review are:

  • a new, simplified process for using the core dimensions, including easy to use summaries
  • a new dimension on leadership and management in a simplified and more flexible format
  • the KSF development review process is more closely aligned with the performance management and appraisal systems
  • some aspects of original guidance have also been re-emphasised, for example that a KSF outline need only comprise the six core dimensions and so remain relatively simple.

The six dimensions

The six dimensions are:

  1. communication
  2. personal and people development
  3. health, safety and security
  4. service improvement
  5. quality
  6. equality and diversity.

The review aims to help organisations deliver on their commitment in the NHS Constitution to the training and development of every member of Agenda for Change staff. The simplified KSF provides a flexible, adaptable tool that can be tailored to meet local needs.

The guide is available on NHS Employers website.

The review is based on recommendations for change in a report by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), which was commissioned by the NHS Staff Council. The report is available on the IES website.

Review of Agenda for Change 2013

Following on from the agreement made at NHS Staff Council the following changes have been agreed to the use of KSF at the workplace:

  • progression through all incremental pay points in all pay bands to be conditional on individuals deomonstrating that they meet locally agreed performance requirements in line with Annex W (England) of the handbook.
  • for staff in bands 8C, 8D and 9, pay progression into the last two points in a band will become annually earned, and only retained where the appropriate local level of performance is reached in a given year.
  • The removal of accerlerated pay progression associated with preceptorship for staff joining pay band 5 as new entrants.

The RCN has produced a number of short guidance booklets on using the KSF. The guidance should be read in conjunction with the NHS KSF handbook.

[see how to access PDF files].