Building a portfolio can be a great way of showcasing the skills a keeper has developed during their working life. Sometimes the evidence in a portfolio is collated as part of the assessment process for a qualification, but it can also be used as a record of competencies purely for the keeper and/or their employers.
A portfolio can be presented in many ways, but is most often folder of documents, images, statements and other items, each of which provide evidence that an individual is able to demonstrate a particular competency or task. Often the competencies described in a portfolio are quite specific, for example focusing on feeding particular species rather than more generally whether the keeper is able to feed animals. This is because evidence that a keeper can feed an elephant does not necessarily provide evidence that they can feed small rodents for example. A portfolio can include a variety of different types of evidence, such as:
- Witness statements from managers or other competent people describing the competency and how the keeper has demonstrated it. A witness statement would usually be dated and signed by both the keeper and the person witnessing that they are competent in a particular area. Unless both signatures are present, the statement is considered invalid or not verified.
- Keeper statements that describe the competency and give examples of where they have demonstrated it. This should ight include a description of the competency and how they have demonstrated it, what they learnt and their own reflections on how they might improve further. Unless the keeper testimony is corroborated by other evidence or a signature from someone who has observed them or tested their knowledge it is helpful for keeper statements to include more description to demonstrate a keeper’s understanding of the subject.
- Photography and video can be used to support statements and descriptions of the competency or presented as stand alone evidence that a keeper is able to deliver certain aspects of their role. It can be particularly useful when building enclosures or creating other physical items such as enrichment devices.
- Copies of documents from their work might demonstrate skills in a more direct way than the witness or keeper statements. For example, body condition scoring documents they have completed, diet sheets they have prepared or designs for new enclosures would all demonstrate skills in these areas. Keepers should normally get permission from their organisation before copying and collating these sorts of documents as technically the information belongs to the Organisation that employs them and some data could be considered as sensitive.
- Peer reviews, where one keeper observes and records another, could also be included. Find out more about how to conduct peer reviews effectively here.
A log of the competencies demonstrated and the evidence collected helps to monitor progress and gives the keeper something they can show to future employers. You can view some examples of completed portfolios by clicking on the links below, but keep in mind that there are many different ways of making a portfolio. Some portfolio evidence may contain personal data so please respect this when viewing the information and regard it for your personal use only when viewing. (The keepers concerned have given their permission for it to be used to assist you in developing your own portfolio). Keepers and managers should consider the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in connection with the use of personal data.