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Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF)

The Knowledge and Skills Framework is used to support the development review process for Agenda for Change staff. Staff will have an annual meeting with their reviewer to review progress, agree a personal development plan and evaluate learning.

The KSF Post Outline will support discussion at the meeting, providing an outline of potential development activity.

Guidance and Support

KSF FAQs

Click on a question to go to the answer for that question.

Click on a section name to go to that section


KSF/Personal Development Plans & Review Meetings 


Q1 - What happens if an employee is on secondment, will it be necessary to have two meetings with two separate managers?

A - There is national guidance on this that will soon be incorporated into the draft NHSGG&C KSF Policy. The current situation is that depending on the nature, base and length of the secondment, it may be necessary to undertake two meetings as every effort must be made to ensure that an individual maintains the agreed knowledge and skill necessary for their substantive post in addition to developing new skills in their seconded post.

It may be possible to incorporate the two reviews into one, however, the focus must remain on the substantive post and will depend on the nature, scope, length and local arrangements for the secondment.

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Q2 - At a PDP/Review meeting is tangible evidence required?

A - Although tangible evidence is the preferred method as far as possible, what constitutes evidence must have previously been agreed between the reviewer and member of staff. Some knowledge and skills will be difficult to evidence with documentation and it may be that verbal and/or observed evidence is acceptable.

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Q3 - If the manager doing the review is not of the same profession, can the professional lead be involved?

A - PDP and R is designed to be a line manager process therfore it is not neccesary for the Professional lead to be present. If however there are clearly identifiable benefits, then this approach can be taken. It is not anticipated to be the approach adopted in many areas.

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Q4 - If a member of staff is in a rotational post, who conducts their review?

A - As far as possible use existing Managerial arrangements. This may mean that a number of rotational staff will be assigned one Reviewer who will facilitate the annual KSF/PDP process. It is likely that this may involve the designated Manager having pre-discussion with the other Managers involved in the rotational period.

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Q5 - KSF Review - is evidence required to demonstrate the indicators or the examples of application?

A - It is the indicators for each Dimension (Core and Specific) that must be evidenced. The examples of application demonstrate how the agreed knowledge and skills can be appplied in that area and can help identify and agree evidence.

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Q6 - If a member of staff is at the top of their band, what is the point in undertaking a KSF/PDP?

A - Staff, although at the top of the pay band, are required to consistently demonstrate that they are applying the knowledge and skills required for the post. It is recognized that processes, technology, equipment etc change over time, and staff must be supported to develop the additional knowledge and skills required. Annual personal development reviews are an integral part of terms and conditions of employment.

Focus beyond 2nd gateway may move more towards personal and career development although need to maintain knowledge and skills in the full outline for the post.

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Q7 - Is there a library of PDPs available?

A - No, PDPs are individual and personal, however e-KSF has a Library of KSF Outlines.

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Q8 - How can I use my CPD/PREP Portfolio along with KSF?

A -  A CPD/PREP Portfolio may be useful evidence of acquired skills, however, this will require to be supported with evidence of how these skills are applied in practice.

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Q9 - My department wishes to use other things, such as qualifications or other competences, for the second gateway rather than the NHS KSF - can we do this?

A - No. The National Agreement specifies that it is the NHS KSF that forms the basis of the second gateway. Qualifications and other competences, for example, may be used as evidence towards the achievement of the dimension and levels if they are agreed and applicable, but they cannot replace the NHS KSF.

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Q10 - Is the KSF/PDP&R the same as appraisal?

A - No, the KSF and PDP/Review process is focussed on development needs being identified and met, relating to how the individual applies the knowledge and skills described in the KSF Outline.

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Q11 - My Manager has set a date for my KSF based PDP/Review meeting, but I really don't know much about KSF yet, what should I do?

A - There are various options for finding out more about KSF:

  • Speak further with your Manager
  • Contact your Learning and Education adviser. Ring 01412014303 (14303) if you're not sure who this is.
  • KSF e-Learning Module for staff is now available on Staffnet
  • Contact your Trade Union/Professional Organisation or KSF Staff Side Adviser Ross McCulloch - 01412767200 or email [email protected]

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Q12 - What will happen about my KSF based PDP if my Manager is a Consultant/Senior Manager/Social Work Manager?

A - They require the same support (KSF PDP & R Training for Managers/Reviewers) as any other Reviewer before meeting with you to discuss and agree your PDP. If you would like some support and advice in this contact Marion Henderson. Tel 01412014303 (41303) or email [email protected]

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Q13 - When do new staff need a KSF based PDP in place?

A - Within the first few weeks in post, the Manager should arrange a meeting with the member of staff to discuss and agree prioritised development needs for the first 12 months and develop a PDP. In addition, there must be a 6 monthly review before the first full review in 12 months time.

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Q14 - What is evidence and how do I gather it?

A - Evidence must be naturally occurring in the workplace and must not become a paper chase (i.e. no one will be asked to artificially produce evidence solely for the purposes of the review.) The development review is about what an individual does at work and evidence must relate to their work e.g.:

  • Verbal feedback and/or discussion at the meeting
  • Written work produced as part of normal duties
  • Electronic work produced as part of normal duties
  • Records showing individual's contribution (e.g. minutes of meetings)
  • A portfolio/CPD (Continuing Professional Development) folder - although it is not necessary to have one nor does a portfolio contain all the information required for a review. This is because evidence must demonstrate that an individual can apply the agreed knowledge and skills for their post. To acquire knowledge and skills for example by attending a course does not necessarily demonstrate application.

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Q15 - I have heard others talk about "passing" or "failing" a KSF PDP meeting, what does this mean?

A - It means nothing and is completely wrong! The KSF PDP process is a positive and supportive process for all of us, introduced to ensure that we have opportunity to sit with our Manager/Reviewer at least once a year to discuss and agree any development needs and support we may require.

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Q16 - I am still confused about evidence - how do I find it and do I have to take it to my first KSF PDP Meeting?

A - It is not necessary to take evidence to your first KSF PDP meeting although some choose to in order to discuss fully with their reviewer what sort of evidence will be required in 12 months time at the first full review meeting:

  • any current/previous PDP in place will be reviewed and finalised
  • the KSF outline for your post will be used to identify and agree prioritised development needs for the next 12 months and how those will be met
  • with your reviewer, you will discuss and agree easily accessible evidence that will be acceptable for the first full review in 12 months time

    Q17 - I don't actually want to develop further, I'm happy doing my job and I don't want to climb the career ladder, why do I need a PDP?

A - The primary purpose of KSF is to provide opportunity for an individual and their Manager/Reviewer to meet at least once a year to focus on the knowledge and skills that must be consistently applied in their current post.

However, service demands change and may mean that the knowledge and skills that an individual has to apply one year may require to be updated in subsequent years as technology, treatments, patient expectations etc. change. The KSF PDP process ensures that staff are supported with access to necessary development opportunities to keep their knowledge and skills up to date and in line with service need.

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Service Objectives

Q1 - How should Appendix 4 (Service Objectives) of the paperwork be used? Is it necessary to complete it?

A - Appendix 4 - Service Objectives is an optional part of the KSF PDP process. It is there as an acknowledgement that many areas have a process for cascade of service objectives in addition to identification and action of personal development needs.

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