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West Midlands Police Federation

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Tutoring: rewarding and challenging role

Jon Steed has always maintained that he likes a challenge.
Guiding new West Midlands Police recruits through their early days on the job during a pandemic has really put that claim to the test.

Jon began his policing career as a PCSO with the Force in 2008 and applied to be a police officer in 2015, joining in 2017.

Now a response officer on D Unit in Coventry, he has recently joined the PDU to help new student officers through their response police training as a tutor.

Pete Bock, whose progress we have featured in our magazine, is one of the students under Jon’s wing.

Jon’s wish to become a tutor came as a result of an influx of new student officers, like Pete, and a desire to tackle a challenge and learn how to lead and motivate others.

“I enjoy a challenge and see this as an opportunity to instil a firm grounding for the students to start their own careers and develop professionally as well as gain professional development for myself too,” says Jon.

“Last year I applied to follow my ambition to become a traffic officer during the opening of the traffic academy but sadly just dipped under the required mark during my interview for the role.

“I feel by now putting myself forward to tutor, I will gain a lot of experience around leadership and motivating others in order to answer confidently those ‘harder-to-answer’ interview questions, the next time around.

“I am considering doing my sergeant’s exam next year and, if I decide to go for that, I feel tutoring will set me up well for any structured board interview I may need to face.

“I also want to tutor because it wasn’t all that long ago that I was in their shoes as the ‘new person on the shift’. It was a huge, steep learning curve, especially when you first get handed the keys to a patrol car on your first day of independent patrol.

“I want to be able to help the new recruits entrusted to me to feel confident in themselves as they move on in their career. It will be very rewarding to watch them move in different directions in the Force and know I had a positive influence on their progress by helping them find a firm grounding to build their skills.”

Jon is looking after Pete and fellow new recruit Beth Stuart and he is full of praise for both of them since they missed much of the usual practical training at Tally Ho in the build-up to starting their new roles.

The pandemic has certainly created challenging timeframes for both his students and himself as their tutor.

“I’m happy and proud of both of them with their achievements so far,” says Jon, “My students have had less Tally Ho classroom time due to COVID-19 and they have had to do more distance learning as a result, which hasn’t helped, but we are managing the challenges.

“If less Tally Ho initial training is the new norm, then much more on the job training needs to be factored in for the future.”

Pete and Beth both arrived with limited basic training and limited access to police systems which presented Jon with a challenge to help them reach ‘competent independent status’ in around six sets of shifts.

A modified induction, a talk with a custody sergeant and a blue light run to a suicidal male was packed into a busy few first days.

Feedback, discussions around conflict, paperwork and arrests were soon covered length and for Jon, more marking of their Eportfolio at home too, so he could create more time to be out on jobs with his students, as opposed to being in the station doing his administration tasks.

“Back when I joined, I had 18 weeks at Tally Ho and was then expected to go out and be guided along the way,” says Jon. “It’s a much different picture nowadays. Beth and Pete are doing very well considering the timeframes and everything is now beginning to fall into place for them.”

Jon says he has really enjoyed his own role in Pete and Beth’s progression, despite the demands and pressures involved.

“I don’t think a tutor’s role is a job for all officers because it’s not a job to do if you don’t really have an interest in doing it,” he added. “It is hard work. I have been going home with headaches from concentrating that much harder because I have been watching both students working.

“Ensuring that everything is done correctly and having to be ready to interject quickly if I spot something that is not going so well makes it quite demanding. I also need to note any things that have been missed and ensure everything required to be done at a job is completed before leaving a job.

“When I’m not doing a job the way I would do it, but watching another do it their way I have to constantly process what’s being said and done and where this is leading.

“It is also new to me and I am too having to self-assess and ask the students for their feedback to see if I am explaining things well and not being too harsh with any criticism.

“But it really has been very rewarding seeing them progress and knowing I have had a positive influence in their development.”